It’s sometimes hard to explain why a particular car is cool. Some are just inexplicably are. Recently, as we took in the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza, a reality-distorting show that hosted multiple Lamborghini Miuras, the most expensive new car in the world, and one-off concept cars, I kept getting drawn back to a dark red, 34-year-old Aston Martin Vantage. This generation of Vantage was cool enough already, having been featured in the James Bond movie The Living Daylights. But this particular car was owned by a certain Sir Elton John, who’s recently been back in the spotlight thanks to the new biopic, Rocketman.
The story goes that, in early 1985, John was in the Knightsbridge neighborhood of London when he happened to walk past the Aston Martin showroom on Sloane Street, a Vantage catching his eye. After reaching out to Aston and some back and forth, Sir Elton spec’d out this example with Royal Cherry paint over a Magnolia interior with matching Royal Cherry piping. John also chose the BBS wheels and Sony stereo. Production of his car was completed in July 1985 and it was registered two months later.
Sir Elton used the car regularly, mainly for trips to see Watford football club play. An avid fan of exclusive British cars such as Jaguars, Bentleys, and Rolls-Royces, John also had a special place in his heart for Aston Martin, as the marque was his first foray into car collecting. After seven years of ownership, it seemed the 390-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 engine wasn’t adequate for the “Rocket Man” any longer. So, in 1992 an RS Williams upgrade was installed, uprating the engine to a whopping 7.0 liters and 510 horsepower. Let’s not forget: A Lamborghini Diablo at that time only had 485 horsepower.
After 10,000 miles of ownership the Vantage was still standing. It went up for auction at Christie’s in 2001 along with a Jaguar XJ220, Ferrari 512TR, and Rolls-Royce Phantom VI. Since its sale in 2001 the car has racked up more than 30,000 miles. The current owner, an avid Aston Martin collector based in Paris, has owned the car for more than three years. Maik Hessmert, who helps curate that particular collection, said when owner saw this car, “he immediately had to have it.”
Even while displaying the ex-Elton John Vantage at the concours, the owner drove to the event in his white Vanquish Zagato Volante, as one does. The Vantage was entered in Class F, Baby You Can Drive My Car: Musical Star’s Cars, which included Little Tony’s Lamborghini Miura (which took home the class win) and Bizzarini GT, as well as Elvis Presley’s BMW 507.