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Aston Martin Virage & Vantage

Aston Martin Virage & Vantage Published: 5th Mar 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Aston Martin Virage & Vantage
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This much needed replacement for the withering DBS/V8, in the late ’80s, still used its basic platform, albeit revamped and is the final link between the old and new Astons. Sadly, the Virage was conceived during one of Aston’s leanest of times and it showed, being depressingly lacklustre despite a 330bhp 32-valve V8. The substantial rethink of 1993 led to the Vantage which righted most of the wrongs as well as almost doubling the engine power, care of twin superchargers.

Driving

Any Aston is an experience, it’s just that the early Virage was not the greatest of them. Often accused of being overweight and underdeveloped, this V8 monster didn’t have the brutal charm of its V8 forebear and contemporary press reports were less than favourable. It depends what you’re after – there’s still that V8 brawn and 150mph pace, remember – and driven like most classics are, will satisfy many. The handling suffered major criticism at the time but this was transformed with the Vantage, after reverting to the more familiar DBS/V8 rear suspension and brakes. The size and girth of this car make them more suited to high speed cruising, especially the Volantes.

Values

At the turn of the last decade, you’d find Virages selling for £10,000 – now it’s closer to £40K for average cars mainly due to the rising prices of the earlier DBS/V8. Top cars hover around the £80,000 mark with a standard model predicted to break 100K soon. Typically, an equivalent Vantage is valued at least two-thirds more and the Le Mans cars are appreciably more, with the V550 and V600 late runs already hitting the £200K mark and then some. However, one Aston expert says these models tend to stick around so don’t pay a lot of attention to some lofty advertised prices…

Timeline

1988 First all-new Aston Martin for 20 years, although the engine and gearbox and the main chassis carried over. Power – all 330bhp of it – comes from new four valves per cylinder heads and there’s a new de Dion rear suspension format with outboard rear brakes fitted

1990 Drophead Volante is unveiled, initially in two-seat form – within a year a 2+2 is optional. Also released in 1990 is a wide-body option, giving a far muscular look

1992 Vastly improved Vantage replaces Virage with old style DBS rear IRS. Vantage features two Roots superchargers, producing 550bhp and 550lb ft of torque

1998 Most extreme Virage evolution released capable of 200mph – the Vantage V600

1999 Run out Le Mans special edition with 550 or 600bhp power; only 40 are made

Best models

Vantage


Widely regarded as chalk and cheese compared to the Virage, these command the most value; early cars can prove hard to sell

V cars


Acknowledged as the pinnacle of the design with 600bhp on offer yet some recommend less manic V550 for its smoother pace

LE & 6.3


If you insist on a Virage then two of note include the special LE (only nine exist), special RS Williams conversion and the Vantage-looking 6.3

Top five faults

General


Look for a solid service history. Because they can be relatively cheap to buy, but not to maintain, some haven’t had the care they demanded

Body


Inspect entire body, Virage is all-aluminium draped over a chassis that was zinc-bathed at the factory. Aluminium corrodes and then things can get expensive. It costs £1200 to replace the scuttle panel beneath the windscreen and £7000 at least for repairs to the A and B posts, new inner/sills and door steps…

Engine


Check for weeping from the cylinder liner seal holes. Move down the block and look for weeping around the head gasket – if you find any, budget for a £3000 head gasket job

Suspension


Take a look at the de Dion tube outer mounting points. The square-section cast aluminium can develop cracks here and it makes the car dangerous to drive; proper repairs will amount to £5000

Electrics

Tend to cause the most financial pain. Don’t be fobbed off by excuses about a blown fuse as the whole dashboard binnacle can fail and that’s several thousand pounds for the parts alone



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