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The hand-built Aston Martin V12 Vantage is considered by many automotive enthusiasts to be the most beautiful cars ever designed. Employing the age old hot rodder’s trick of installing a manufacturer’s largest engine possible in its lightest chassis available, the V12 Vantage is one of Aston Martin’s highest performing models. Actually though, before we go too much farther, we should say the Aston Martin Vantage is considered one of the most beautiful cars ever designed, as the V12 Vantage is visually identical to its V8 Vantage sibling—for the most part.

Introduced in 2003 as a concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the production version of the Aston Martin Vantage was first shown at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The V12 version of the Aston Martin was unveiled in 2007. The main difference between the two cars is the 510-horsepower, 6.0-liter V12 engine, which is capable of generating some 420 ft-lbs of torque. Zero to 60 is quoted at 4.1 seconds and top speed is quoted at 190 miles per hour.

To ensure optimal weight distribution, the six-speed manual gearbox is mounted at the back of the chassis near the rear wheels. Rear drive and the manual transmission are the only configurations offered for the palatially appointed 2 + 2 grand tourer. Visually, the V12 can be distinguished from the V8 by the louvers in the carbon fiber engine cover of the V12 Vantage. Stiffer front springs were fitted to the Vantage to support the additional weight of the V12 engine.

Standard bits of kit include a set of 19-inch alloy wheels, a set of carbon-ceramic brakes, xenon headlamps, and rear parking sensors. Interior niceties include an automatic climate control system, exceptionally supple leather upholstery, a pair of power-actuated seats with memory settings, Bluetooth streaming technology, a Garmin-sourced GPS navigation system, and an extremely realistic-sounding 160-watt audio system—with a six-disc CD changer, an iPod adapter, and an auxiliary audio input port.

For the 2015 model year, spokespeople for Aston Martin have announced the V12 Vantage S will replace the V12 Vantage. The new V12 engine in this version of the car will produce 565 horsepower and 457 ft-lbs of torque. Its top speed is quoted at 205 miles per hour and its zero to 60 time is quoted at 3.8 seconds.  The V12 Vantage S is being touted as the fastest roadgoing Aston Martin ever offered—save the limited production One-77 Aston Martin which commands a one million dollar sticker price.