Archive gem: Boris Johnson reviews the 2005 Aston Vantage V8

Published: 25 July 2019

► Aston Martin V8 Vantage tested by new PM
► Future prime minister Boris Johnson in 2005
► Piers Morgan also reviewed the car...  

Picture the scene in October 2005: the Arctic Monkeys are number one in the charts with I bet you look good on the dancefloor, just about holding off the Pussycat Dolls’ Don’t Cha, and Kanye West’s Gold Digger.

In the Formula One world, Schumacher and Ferrari’s five-year streak of domination has been ended by Fernando Alonso. In the lower racing tiers, British sensation Lewis Hamilton has just dominated the Formula 3 Euro series, winning 15 of the 20 rounds.

And over at CAR magazine – in the same issue as our scoop on the Bugatti Veyron – then magazine editor Jason Barlow has commissioned Boris Johnson MP to review the all-new Aston Martin V8 Vantage….

With Johnson now installed at 10 Downing Street, we decided it was the perfect time to remind our readers when our new PM was a humble motoring correspondent. Trawling deep through CAR’s basement archives we managed to dig up this 'review' from our October 2005 issue, where the now leader of the nation was let loose on the streets of London with Aston’s newly launched V8. What could possibly go wrong?

Aston Martin Vantage V8 (2005) review

Boris Johnson reviews the Aston Martin Vantage V8 for CAR magazine

As soon as the editor of this magazine handed over the keys to the new Aston, I could tell he was having second thoughts.

‘Do be careful, 007,’ he said, as I prised myself into the all-leather buttock clutchers of the Vantage.

‘Careful?’ I said, flicking a few switches with Bond-style nonchalance, trying to find the ones for the oil slick and the tin tacks, not to mention the ejector seat. ‘Of course I’ll be careful.’

After a while I gave up flicking the switches and admitted defeat. I couldn’t find the ignition. 

‘Really, 007!’ said Q. ‘There’s £80,000 of car here. I’m worried you’re going to scrape the alloys.’

I looked at him steadily. ‘Just show me how to turn it on,’ I said.

You’ve got to understand how it is with me and Jason. We’re co-car reviewers for GQ, which means that — to some extent — we think of ourselves as rivals. The GQ car team believe Jason is the guy who deserves to get the fruity sports cars, the ones the chicks want to drape themselves all over. When they have a mouldy American people carrier, they send for Johnson. 

Jason gets the Lamborghinis and the Ferraris and the Astons. I get the 12-seater Chryslers. So when he told me he was going to get me the latest Aston Martin Vantage, the king of the road, I gasped at his kindness. After we had finished the photos, I naturally held out my hands for the keys and asked when he wanted the car back.

‘Next Monday all right?’ I said. 

Er, well, actually, said Jason, that wasn’t the plan. The idea was that I would just be photographed with the car, inhale the bouquet of its leather-and-walnut interior, marvel at the snaking innards of the engine and cobble together a piece on that basis. They hadn’t actually scheduled for me to drive it, not as such. 

I am afraid to say that I bristled. We motoring correspondents have our pride. I kept my hand held out for the keys; and as I noted in the beginning, it was with some trepidation that Jason handed them over. 

The deal was that I could drive my kid home to Islington — a distance of no more than a couple of miles — and back. Triff, I said, and away we roared. 

Yeeow, we went up Doughty Street, and I was able to pronounce this Vantage a world-class car, quite extraordinarily nippy over the 400-yard dash for the Gray’s Inn road traffic light. 

Zooom, we went up Margery Street into Islington, and here alas, we entered the territory of the Lib Dems. Not only have these swines corduroyed the roads with speed bumps. They have also installed chicanes. 

Just as I was accepting the admiring glances of some drinkers in a pub I noticed I was entering one of these irritating traffic calming devices, and remembered how exceedingly wide-rumped the Aston is. Crunch. I looked at my son. He looked at me. We both knew what it meant. 

‘Oh well,’ I said to Jason, when we got back. ‘At least it proves that I drove it and really enjoyed it.’   

‘Yeah,’ said Q fingering the abraded alloy. 

‘Anyway,’ I said, ‘I blame the Liberal Democrats’.

‘Yeah,’ said Q.

By Boris Johnson

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