The Virage of 1988 was Aston Martin’s first new production car for eighteen years, and it still used the trusty V8 engine that had powered so many of its extended family. As a new flagship, it was fresh, modern, and understated; clearly a heavyweight supercar but, in contrast with a succession of increasingly flamboyant competitors from different manufacturers, it still embodied a gentlemanly elegance forever associated with Aston Martin. Some critics called it ‘lacklustre’. In fact its design was both beautiful in its own right, and a practical base for a whole raft of versions, developments and editions that were either already on other people’s drawing boards, or at least a steady gleam in an automotive parent’s eye. These would emerge during the Virage’s official production life as a Lagonda, Volante, Shooting Brake and yet another Vantage performance version, among others, many of which continued in production after the V12 Vanquish displaced the Virage.
The 5.3 litre V8 engine got a makeover, too. The Connecticut tuning specialists Callaway Engineering improved aspiration by developing new cylinder heads with four valves per cylinder. This overcame the inevitable drain in power from using the catalytic converter already mandatory in the US, and allowed the use of lead-free petrol in any country. With computers now refining structural, engineering and transmission elements, the Virage was quieter, more comfortable, smoother and quicker for less outlay than its predecessors. And if that wasn’t good enough for people expecting ostentation for their admittedly big money, by the time production orders could be fulfilled there was a 6.3 litre Volante version (March 1992) with a top speed of 174 mph (280 km/h) and 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 5.4 secs. It was, nevertheless, a Virage.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1988 (until 1994)
5,341 cc V8
Top speed of 157 mph (253 km/h);0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.0 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Aston Martin Virage, like all its predecessors, continued to save money by borrowing parts from other cars. Among many small components too expensive to manufacture independently, the rear light clusters came from the VW Scirocco and the headlamps from the Audi 100.