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Aston Martin Vantage V550, V600 & Le Mans: Buying guide and review (1992-2000)

Aston Martin Vantage V550, V600 & Le Mans: Buying guide and review (1992-2000) Classic and Performance Car
Aston Martin Vantage V550 Aston Martin Vantage V550 Aston Martin Vantage V550 Aston Martin Vantage V550 Aston Martin Vantage V550
The euphoria that greeted the launch of the Virage in 1989 didn’t last very long. The first completely new Aston Martin in two decades had been warmly welcomed by the press, and by Aston’s loyal fanbase, but within a couple of years sales had fallen off and the mood had changed. The general feeling was that the Virage lacked both firepower and road presence.
The boys in Works Service were first to respond to the clamour for something a bit ballsier, and in January 1992 began offering a 465bhp 6.3-litre engine conversion, together with bigger brakes, firmer suspension, wider wheels and tyres, and bulging wheelarches. 
It was a bit of a hotrod, but it worked. The press lapped it up, and Works eventually converted 40 cars. (At around £60k a pop, on top of the £132,000 it cost to buy the standard Virage, the boost to Aston’s coffers was as welcome as the boost to the Virage’s image.)
Meanwhile, the engineering department was developing the ‘official’ super-Virage, and in September 1992 it made its debut at the British motor show. Simply called Vantage, everything about it seemed right, its wide, low, muscular stance oozing presence but also sophistication, from its jutting chin and fared-in headlamps (three per side, a system borrowed from the late-80s Alfa SZ), through its sculpted sills and evocatively flared arches, to its subtly flicked-up tail and four round tail-lights. John Heffernan and Ken Greenley had worked a remarkable transformation on their original Virage design (in fact only roof and doors were carried over). 
Under the newly louvred bonnet, the big news was the addition of twin superchargers, lifting the output of the standard-capacity 5.3-litre V8 to 550bhp, with a matching 550lb ft of torque at 4000rpm. It was by some margin the most powerful production car the company had yet built and, at the time, the world’s most powerful production engine. The top speed was 186mph (measured, not claimed) and the 0-100mph time, despite a kerbweight of almost two tons, just 10.1 seconds. Aston Martin was back in the supercar business.
Tellingly, nowhere in the launch blurb was the Virage name mentioned; this was, as far as Aston was concerned, a wholly new model. The interior had been redesigned and now had airbags as an option for the first time (though the air-bagged steering wheel was particularly ugly). The rear suspension ditched the Virage’s complex A-frame and went back to the classic de Dion set-up, while springs, dampers and anti-roll bars were all beefed-up. The 18in wheels, the Goodyear Eagle tyres, the mammoth 362mm front discs and Group C calipers, all were unique to the Vantage, as was the ZF six-speed gearbox, one of very few deemed robust enough to handle the torque. Final development miles were completed by one Jackie Stewart, at the time a member of the Aston Martin board.
Deliveries started in late 1993, and, while the Vantage was never going to sell in huge numbers (that was the soon-to-be launched DB7’s job), it hit the mark with well-heeled customers of the old school. Road testers loved it, and schoolboys everywhere had a new poster car. 
There was even more to come. In 1998, Works announced the V600 upgrade, which, as the name suggested, lifted peak power and torque to 600bhp and 600lb ft respectively, achieved mainly by adding extra intercoolers to keep the intake temperature down and thereby increase boost, with a little extra help from a freer-flowing exhaust. The extra power, combined with a five-speed version of the gearbox with longer ratios that allowed the V600 to hit 61mph in first, dropped the 0-60mph time to just 3.9sec and 0-100 to 9.9sec, while the quoted top speed was now ‘over 200mph’. The full V600 package included gargantuan 385mm front discs with six-pot AP Racing calipers, while the suspension had stiffer springs, revised rebound rates and an uprated front anti-roll bar connected by spherical joints. 
The full package cost £43,000, which, when added to the cost of a stock Vantage, brought the total to £232,950. Initially you had to buy and register your standard Vantage (retrospectively known as the V550), then take it back to Works for the upgrade, but after a few months it was decreed new cars could be registered as V600s. It’s a moot distinction. If you want to be sure a car is what it purports to be, give the chassis number to the Aston Martin Heritage Trust.
The last hurrah for the supercharged Vantage, and for the great V8 engine first sketched by Tadek Marek in the early ’60s, was the Le Mans. Unveiled in 1999 to mark the 40th anniversary of Aston’s famous win in the 24 Hours, it had a unique grille treatment, new wheels, revised suspension and special trim. Just 40 were built, and that rarity has certainly supercharged their recent rise in value. 

Performance and specs

Engine V8, 5340cc, twin-supercharged 
Power 550bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque 550lb ft @ 4000rpm
0-60mph 4.6sec (V600 3.9sec)
Top speed 186mph (V600 200+mph)
Transmission Six-speed manual (five-speed in V600), rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2610mm
Length 4745mm
Width 1924mm
Height 1330mm
Kerb weight 1990kg

Common Problems

• Crash damage is one of the things you need to be alert to, as is rust. The Virage family was built on the classic V8 platform, specifically a shortened version of the ’80s Lagonda. The triangulated chassis sections under the sill pods tend to trap water, and it also gets in the B-pillar, so you get rust inside the door-shuts. You can also find it bubbling up on the leading edge of the front wing.
• Pay particular attention to the chin spoiler because if it needs to come off it means removing the intercoolers and oil coolers and all the pipes that go with them, so it’s a really big job.
• The spoiler might have been bashed because the front springs sag, and the car is very nose-down. Even if the miles are very low – and that applies to most of them – springs, dampers and bushes degrade over time and need replacing. With all the weight, bushes get a hard time generally, as do the gearbox and differential mountings with all the torque.
• Look for oil weeping from the head gaskets and also the oil supply pipe at the back of the engine; it’s enormously difficult to get to because it’s right up against bulkhead, so it’s probably something you’d live with until you needed to pull the engine forward or remove a cylinder head for other work.
• The good news is that the engine itself and both manual gearboxes are generally robust and give few problems. The rare auto is less suited to the massive torque. 
• You rarely see issues with the superchargers, though belts and pulleys do wear – a whistling sound is the clue here. The water pump is a weak point, as it takes the strain of all the auxiliary belts. 
• Make sure all the electrics work. Some of the little black boxes are fiendishly difficult to get hold of or are very expensive. 
• Servicing requirements are essentially the same as any other V8-engined Aston of the ’80s and ’90s. Budget around £1800-£2000 for routine servicing, with another £1500 a year for non-service items that will inevitably need replacing. Tyres, for example, are £500 a corner.  
• Fuel thirst is almost comically extreme: when Autocar tested a V550, they recorded an average of 11.6mpg. But then no-one buys a Vantage for its fuel economy. It’s the last of the old-school handbuilt Astons, a dinosaur in some ways, but definitely T Rex. With twin superchargers. 

Owners’ clubs, forums and websites

• www.amoc.org – Aston Martin Owners’ Club
• www.amocna.org – North American Aston Martin Owners’ Club
• www.astonmartinworks.com – Aston Martin Works

Summary and prices

To put current values and running costs into context, it’s worth recognising that with a new price of £177,600 in 1993 (V600 £232,950 in 1998), this was one of the most expensive cars on the market. Where are values today? Expect to pay £175,000-£350,000 for the V550 and V600, while the extra special Le Mans is £450,000-plus today. In May’s Bonhams Works sale, an as-new LM sold for £449,500, and the same car today might well fetch half a million. 
The real problem for a potential Vantage buyer is actually finding one. A total of just 244 V550 and V600 models means there’s usually only a handful for sale at any one time, and their prices, too, have climbed steeply over the last 18 months or so. 
Words: Peter Tomalin // Images: Matthew Howell
Aston Martin Vantage V550 Aston Martin Vantage V550 Aston Martin Vantage V550 Aston Martin Vantage V550 Aston Martin Vantage V550
Last updated: 20th Jan 2017
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Aston Martin Vantage
36990 125000 GBP
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £59,990 £59,990

    Variant name:V8 Roadster S ,Derivative:S ,Variant: S 2dr Sportshift Aston Martin Vantage S 2dr Sportshift

    • Year: 2011
    • Mileage: 42423 mi
    • Engine size: 4.7
    For sale
    Dick Lovett-Aston Martin Bristol
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £36,990 £36,990

    #BenzBavarian #AstonMartin #theta360 #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA Specification Parking Aid (Rear) Climate Control In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD Autochanger) Alarm Leather seats Airbags Electric windows Height adjustable drivers seat Traction Control System 19″ 7 Spoke Alloys

    • Year: 2006
    • Mileage: 45800 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage Reserved


    Aston Martin V8 Vantage presented in Onyx Black comes with a full Aston history and the following specification; black leather with red stitch, electric heated seats with memory, multi-function leather steering wheel, climate control, satellite navigation, bluetooth phone, rear park assist, cruise control, Xenon headlights, wind deflector, power fold exterior mirrors, red calipers and 19" alloy wheels. Part exchange welcome, competitive finance available. Viewings welcome by appointment only. Body: Convertible Transmission: Automatic Mileage: 26,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2007 (57) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 4.3 Finished in: Onyx Black

    • Year: 2007
    • Mileage: 26000 mi
    For sale


    Stratton Motor Company are pleased to offer this lovely example of Aston Martins Vantage V8 Roadster. Finished in Onyx Black Metallic Obsidian Black Leather with Red Stitching Taylors Grey Headlining Bluetooth Cruise Control Piano Black Facias Premium Audio Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror Electric Memory Seats Heated Seats Power Fold Mirrors Sat Nav 19" 7 Spoke Alloy Wheels Wind Deflector Fantastic condition inside and out. For more details and to arrange a viewing please call Roger Bennington or Jonathan on 01508 530491

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 31000 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £66,900 £66,900

    Variant name:V8 Roadster ,Variant: 2dr Sportshift 19 inch Alloys Satellite Navigation Electric Heated Seats Stunning Low Mileage Example John Holland Winner of Dealer's Dealer of the Year at the National Car Dealer Awards 2014/15 is delighted to offer for sale this beautifully presented low mileage Aston Martin Vantage V8 4.7 Roadster Manual. Finished in the best colour combination on the market today of Tungsten Grey Metallic, Black Hood and complimenting Obsidian Black Full Leather Upholstery with White Contrast Stitching and Piano Black Interior Inlays. This stunning example comes with a huge specification to include, unmarked 19" Diamond Faced Alloy Wheels, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, Multi Function Leather Steering Wheel, Cruise Control, CD with iPod Connection, Tyre Pressure Control, Brake Calipers in Black, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Heated Electric Front Seats, Electric Folding Mirrors, Xenon Headlights, Day Time Running Lights plus much more. Serviced at Aston Martin Leeds at 2065 miles 07/13.. Supplied with 2 keys and all its original owners manuals and wallet.John Holland has been established for over 40 years supplying a premium level of service in the sale of sports, prestige and collectors cars.

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 3557 mi
    • Engine size: 4.7
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage Roadster Manual

    £56,950 £56,950

    Registered 2012 Mileage 22,380 miles Engine Size 4.7l Transmission Manual Fuel Type Petrol Fuel Consumption 18.8 mpg Registered 2012 Registration MX12DWW Previous Owners N/A Fuel Consumption 18.8 mpg Tax Band M Tax Cost £515 Colour Silver Interior Trim N/A Exterior Colour Meteorite Silver Doors 2 Fuel Type Petrol Bodystyle Convertible Mileage 22,380 miles Engine Size 4.7l Transmission Manual MPG figures are obtained from laboratory testing and intended for comparisons between vehicles. They are unlikely to represent real world efficiency. Left Right Tailor Your Finance Vehicle Features Warranty Technical Spec Tailor Your Finance Vehicle Features Fitted Options Garmin Satellite Navigation Electric Lumber Support Front arm rest with storage compartment Climate Control Powerfold Mirrors Power Hood 6 CD Autochanger Alarm and Immobiliser Aston Martin 12 Month Warranty Tyre Pressure Monitoring Aston Martin Service History Bluetooth Phone Connection Automatic Headlights Steering Wheel in Leather with Mounted Remote Controls Multifunctional Display and Trip Computer Contrast Stitching Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 22380 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £49,989 £49,989

    Variant name:V8 ROADSTER ,Derivative:VH2 ,Variant: V8 Vantage ROADSTER Sportshift Black Leather, 19" 7 Spoke Anthracite Alloy Wheels, Bi-Xenon headlamps, M/F Steereing Wheel, Telephone Preparation, Vantage Premium Audio, Electric/Memory/Heated Seats, PowerFold Mirrors, Reverse Park Assist, Aston Martin History

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 18123 mi
    • Engine size: 4.3
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £88,950 £88,950

    Bluetooth, Full Leather, iPod Connectivity, Memory Seats, Satellite Navigation, Xenon Headlamps, Parking Camera, Parking Sensors, Cruise Control, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Heated Seats, Electric Seats Boss Motor Company have the pleasure of presenting this beautiful 2016 model year Aston Martin V8 Vantage S - Roadster. Finished in the rare colour of Ceramic Grey with Full Obsidian Black Hide and distinct outer stitching in silver.Full Aston Martin Service History.Excellent Specification Includes: Carbon Fibre Pack - Carbon Fibre Front Splitter, Carbon Fibre Rear Diffuser, 7 Speed Sport Shift II, Black Hood, Obsidian Black Rokona Headlining, Steering Wheel in Obsidian Black with Silver Stitching, Alarm Upgrade, Aston Martin 700W Premium Audio, DAB Digital Radio, Brake Calipers in Black, Full Length Grand Piano Black Wood, Bright Finish Front Grille, Front Park Sensors, Reverse Camera, Headlamp Silver Bezel, Piano Black Interior Trim Pack, Memory Seats, Meshes in Magnum Silver, Headrest Embroidery 'Vantage S' in silver, Heated Sports Front Seats, Black Textured Tailpipe Finisher, Alloy Wheels 5 Spoke Silver, Convertible Wind Deflector. - VIEWING STRICTLY BY APPOINTMENT ONLY - PART EXCHANGE WELCOME- FINANCE AVAILABLE THROUGH OUR WEBSITE.

    • Mileage: 4000 mi
    • Engine size: 4735
    For sale
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