ACR V8 Vantage Coupe: First Impressions

Alpha Classic Racing's pair of bright red V8 Vantages share the company's signature widebody kit. The convertible has been used for pictures and social media for quite some time and it was the one posted in the Aston Martin group on Facebook. In front of me was the coupe. Same color. Same body kit. Very different builds.

The convertible has air suspension to make it easy to drive on streets and able to drop down low for pics. It's also got a GMR supercharger kit on it. It's a wild-looking car and has the power to back up the style with performance when running around on the streets. The coupe, however, is built for the track.

Coupe vs Convertible

While ACR’s convertible is a slammed, supercharged monster of a thing, the coupe is closer to a Vantage GT4 than the production V8 Vantage it started out as. The GT4 race car is surprisingly similar to the road car. The main differences are the suspension, brakes, safety equipment, and absolute eschewment of creature comforts.

This car follows suit.

The interior is stripped out with just the bare necessities remaining. It’s function over form, and there is no form. Open the door and you’re greeted by a battle-worn racing bucket seat, a bare-bones OMP Alcantara steering wheel, diamond plate floor panel, a roll cage, and that one specific white shift knob I’ve only ever seen in JDM cars or those that aspire to be them.

ACR interior.jpg

To ensure it qualifies for racing, the engine is pretty close to factory specification. Sections of the emissions system have been reduced or eliminated, but it’s still a standard naturally-aspirated 4.3L V8 engine. It hasn’t been supercharged like the roadster.

Also in line with racing specification, the suspension is a traditional coilover setup rather than the air suspension found on the other car. That’s right - this car is super low but it isn’t sitting on the ground, for pics or otherwise.

The golden wheels are made by OZ Racing for the Vantage GT4. They don’t fill out the widebody like the Vossen set that are on the car for photoshoots. These again are used to satisfy race series requirements and are wrapped in Advan A048 tires. A set of 6-piston front and 4-piston rear Brembo GT-R brakes with slotted two-piece rotors are tucked inside the OZ Racing wheels.

But enough of all that stuff. We’re here for the body, aren’t we?

The ACR Vantage Body Kit

Check this thing out…

The body kit draws inspiration from a few Aston Martins, including the GT3 and GT4 race cars and GT8 and GT12 road cars. That divisive diffuser hanging off the rear? It’s inspired by the even more-wild rear diffuser of the Vantage GTE race car. Also, it’s adjustable so you can tuck it like Buffalo Bill if you’re self conscious about what you’ve got dangling down there.

Between the prominent front splitter and maximally-extended diffuser, the ACR V8 Vantage is 120mm longer than a standard one. The car’s width is increased by 90mm by swapping out the front fenders for the ACR versions and adding width to the rear quarter panels.

While the front fenders are replaced by new ones, the rear quarter panels are modified. The widebody rear fender flares are riveted onto the factory body. Akane-san then had the body smoothed to make the quarter panels and fender flares look like one piece, and he recommends the same to his customers.

Smooth rear quarter panels.jpg

I’ve seen cars with widebodies installed this way develop cracks over time as the body flexes. I asked Akane-san about the potential issue.

It depends on installation. If it’s very good, there will be no issues. It is much more difficult to do but I wanted it to look like it was part of the car.
— Hiroyuki Akane

Luanna, his translator, then translated as Akane-san elaborated in Japanese. They explained that while their convertible is built for show, the coupe is built to race. Despite being put through those conditions, it hasn’t had any issues with cracking paint or fender flare separation.

(Author’s note: I saw this car again a few months later when it was racing at Fuji Speedway and even at the end of that race Akane-san’s comments proved true.)

The rear quarter panel flares are molded into the new rear bumper cover as well, with a sharply-curved overhang that copies the styling of the front fenders, which themselves were inspired by the GTE and GT8. My favorite part of the rear, however, is the carbon fiber ducktail spoiler on the trunk lid.

Dat Booty.jpg

It’s larger than any other aftermarket trunk lid spoiler I’ve seen for these cars, and sculpted to beautifully exaggerate the factory lines while suiting the ACR widebody’s styling perfectly. It comes down over the rear edge of the trunk lid but still accommodates the center brake light.

The trunk spoiler on this car is notched out to allow the use of aerocatches for the trunk lid, but the 'standard’ version of it comes with an unbroken leading edge.

Notched trunk lid spoiler.jpg

In front of the rear wheels are a pair of large inlets, styled like those of the GT12 road car. They’re functional, and scoop in air that can be routed to the rear brakes to help keep those cool. From those inlets to the front tires are a set of side sills that fill in some of the car’s newfound width. The leading edge of the sill is similar to the carbon fiber side sill of the GT4 race car (that part is now also used as part of the AMR Aero Kit), but it angles out to meet the outside edge of the inlet at its rear.

Front profile.jpg

The front fenders are a blend of two others. The vent and vent strake are that of a road-going Vantage, but the extra width and overhang are from the GT8 and GTE race cars. On the race cars, the fender vent is missing -it’s just a smooth panel there. The side strake on this car has fittingly been replaced with the carbon fiber version, which weighs considerably less than the standard chrome one.

A set of canards adds functional downforce to the nose of the car. When I saw the car this time it only had the pair, as you see in these pictures. When I saw it a few months later, it had two pairs and it looked awesome.

The giant front splitter is aggressive but blends in with the rest of the styling perfectly. In person the car just looks right and the splitter isn’t too small or too large. It actually fits. The subtle frame around the lower front bumper inlet by comparison looks a little thin, though I don’t think it’d look any better if extruded further.

Looking at the car from the front shows more race car inspiration. The hood badge (and trunk badge out back) are inspired by the limited run of national flags made for WEC. In this case, the wings badge has a bit of red in its center to honor the Japanese flag.

Front view.jpg

What I found interesting about this particular car is that the front bumper armature is still in place, but the vertical sections are gone. So, the armature still maintains the majority of its functionality and safety use, but the center is gone. That necessitates the removal of the air intake system main inlet and the use of an Aston Martin Racing grille, but the rest of the armature is still in tact.

The yellow laminate over the headlights is another racing touch, and the various imperfections around the car make it clear that yes, this car does race.

Go to the next page to read about what’s involved if you want an ACR body kit for yourself.