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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 cars for sale

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Aston Martin Vantage
32950 428000 GBP
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £64,000 £64,000

    Used condition, Franchise approved,

    • Mileage: 23792 mi
    • Engine size: 4735
    For sale
    Aston Martin Leeds
  • Aston Martin 1996

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. -----------------------------

    • Year: 1996
    For sale
  • 2015 Aston Martin Vantage 2dr Sportshift [420] 2016 Face Lift Model with Clear Lenses 1 Owner From New 19 inch Alloys Red Calipers Satellite Navigation Bluetooth Heated Electric Seats FAMSH

    £69,900 £69,900

    Multi award-winning prestige car dealership John Holland is delighted to offer for sale this beautifully presented Face Lift 1 owner from new Aston Martin Vantage 2dr Sportshift [420]. Finished in Onyx Black with complimenting Black Leather Upholstery with Ivory Alcantara Headlining with Piano Black Centre Console Interior Trim. This stunning example comes with a fantastic specification to include, 19" Diamond Faced Multi spoke Alloy Wheels with Red Calipers, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, Multi Function Leather Sports Steering Wheel, Paddle Shift, Cruise Control, Climate Control, DAB Radio with ipod Connection, Heated Electric Front Seats with Memory, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Electric Folding Mirrors, Auto Lights, Xenon Headlights with Face Lift 2016 Clear Lenses. Also benefiting from a full service history completed on the 22/03/16 at 6880 miles and again on the 27/03/17 at 23048 miles exclusively at the supplying dealer Aston Martin Edinburgh. Supplied with 2 keys and 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. We have a team of exper

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 14628 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage GT12

    £428,000 £428,000

    Registered 2015 Mileage 170 miles Engine Size 5.9l Transmission Automatic Fuel Type Petrol Fuel Consumption 19.8 mpg Registered 2015 Registration KY65ZZL Previous Owners N/A Fuel Consumption 19.8 mpg Tax Band M Tax Cost £535 Colour Green Interior Trim N/A Exterior Colour Aston Martin Racing Green Doors 3 Fuel Type Petrol Bodystyle Hatchback Mileage 170 miles Engine Size 5.9l Transmission Automatic 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 Full Titanium Exhaust Alcantara - Contemporary Alarm & Immobiliser Aston Martin Tracking by Cobra Auto Dimming Interior Rear View Mirror Black Headlamp Bezels Black Window Surround Brake Calipers - Yellow Carbon Bonnet Louvres Carbon Ceramic Brakes 700W Aston Martin Premium Audio System with Dolby Carbon Exterior Pack Clear Rear Lamps Carbon Fibre Splitter and Diffuser Xenon Headlamps Carbon Side Strakes Tyre Pressure Monitoring Climate Control Cruise Control Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) E

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 170 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £45,500 £45,500

    Full Leather, Xenon Headlamps, Satellite Navigation, Memory Seats, Bluetooth, Climate Control, Cruise Control, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Parking Sensors, Electric Seats, Heated Seats, Aston Martin Premium Audio Boss Motor Company are extremely proud to present this Aston Martin Special Edition Showcase car - 4.7 V8 Vantage Sportshift. Finished in DBS Storm Black with Full Obsidian Leather Throughout - Stitched in Iridium Silver and Tailors Grey Headlining. FULL ASTON MARTIN SERVICE HISTORY - Last Serviced In May 2017. NEW 'No Advisory' MOT.Extensive Specification Includes:Sports Pack with 10 Spoke Forged Alloy Wheels, N400 Side Sills, Bright Finish Grille, Front Park Sensors, Mangum Silver Bonnet and Side Strake Meshes, Clear Rear Lamps, HDD Satellite Navigation, Black Brake Calipers, Tracker, 700W Aston Martin Premium Audio System with Dolby Pro Logic II, Memory Seats and Exterior Mirrors, Heated Seats, Blueooth Telephone Preparation, Auto-Dimming Interior Mirror, 6 CD changer. - VIEWING STRICTLY BY APPOINTMENT ONLY - PART EXCHANGE WELCOME- FINANCE AVAILABLE THROUGH OUR WEBSITE - 6 MONTHS RAC WARRANTY

    • Mileage: 54000 mi
    • Engine size: 4735
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage V12 Roadster Manual

    £109,900 £109,900

    Registered 2012 Mileage 24,880 miles Engine Size 5.9l Transmission Manual Fuel Type Petrol Fuel Consumption 17.2 mpg Registered 2012 Registration KX62BWL Previous Owners 1 Fuel Consumption 17.2 mpg Tax Band M Tax Cost £535 Colour Grey Interior Trim N/A Exterior Colour Ceramic Grey Doors 3 Fuel Type Petrol Bodystyle Coupe Mileage 24,880 miles Engine Size 5.9l 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 Carbon Fibre Lightweight Seat 6 CD Autochanger Alarm & Immobiliser Aston Martin Service History Front and Rear Parking Sensors Reversing Camera Xenon Headlamps Auto Dimming Interior Rear View Mirror 12 Month Aston Martin Approved Warranty Brake Calipers Black Carbon Ceramic Brakes 1000W B&O BeoSound Audio System Carbon Fibre Interior Door Pulls Carbon Fibre Splitter and Diffuser Climate Control Powerfold Mirrors Front arm rest with storage compartment Clear Rear Lamps Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 24880 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £64,995 £64,995

    Variant name:Convertible ,Variant: Vantage Roadster 4.7 V8 Manual 2013 '63' reg with 5,195 miles. Stratus White with Obsidian Black Leather, Silver Contrast Stitching, Piano Black Facia, Black Hood, Aston Martin 700W Premium Audio, Bluetooth Telephone Prep, Black Brake Calipers, Cruise Control, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Satelite Navigation, Heated Seats, Sports Seats, Clear Rear Lamp Lenses. Perfect Aston Martin Service History and Excellent Condition.

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 5195 mi
    • Engine size: 4.7
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £84,950 £84,950

    Variant name:V8 Coupe Special Editions N430 ,Derivative:N430 ,Variant: N430 2dr Sportshift II Aston Martin Edinburgh present this fully Aston Martin approved 2016 V8 Vantage N430 Sportshift in Alloro Green with Obsidian Black leather interior. This vehicle comes with the balance of the manufacturer's warranty. This beautiful N430 will give you great driving pleasure with the added peace of mind from the manufacturer's strict testing programme and warranty. Contact our team for more images of this vehicle. Tailored finance packages available. Nationwide delivery available.

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 3206 mi
    • Engine size: 4.7
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage GT8 Manual

    £260,000 £260,000

    Registered 2017 Mileage 170 miles Engine Size 4.7l Transmission Manual Fuel Type Petrol Fuel Consumption 20.6 mpg Registered 2017 Registration LB66VZN Previous Owners N/A Fuel Consumption 20.6 mpg Tax Band M Tax Cost £535 Colour Green Interior Trim N/A Exterior Colour DBR Racing Green Doors 3 Fuel Type Petrol Bodystyle Hatchback Mileage 170 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 7 Spoke Satin Forged Alloys Wireless Music Streaming Alarm & Immobiliser Alcantara - Contemporary Aston Martin Tracking by Cobra Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror Automatic Headlights Balance of Aston Martin Warranty Black Headlamp Bezels Black Vaned Front Grille Black Window Surround Aero Pack Carbon Side Strakes Clear Rear Lamps Memory Front Seats Climate Control Electric Adjustable Front Seats Cruise Control Reversing Camera Tyre Pressure Monitoring Low Armrest Xenon Headlamps Carbon Door Cards Power Wash Headlamps Dynamic Stability Co

    • Year: 2017
    • Mileage: 170 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £49,989 £49,989

    Variant name:V8 ,Derivative:VH2 ,Variant: V8 Vantage 4.7 Coupe Sportshift Lightening Silver with Obsidian Black Leather and Silver Contrast Stitching, Sportshift Gearbox, 19" Anthracite Multispoke Alloy Wheels, Satellite Navigation, Telephone Preparation, Black Brake Callipers, Vantage Premium Audio System with Sub, Heated Front Seats, Electric Memory Seats, Power Fold Mirrors, Cruise Control, Bi-Xenon Headlamps, Front and Rear Park Assist, Contrast Stitching, Piano Black Veneer. All Aston Martin Main Dealer History. P/Exchange Welcome. Pls Ask For A Finance Quotation.

    • Year: 2010
    • Mileage: 16000 mi
    • Engine size: 4.7
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £74,950 £74,950

    Variant name:V8 Coupe S ,Derivative:S ,Variant: S Manual 2dr Aston Martin Edinburgh present this 2015 V8 Vantage S Manual finished in Onyx black with a beautiful Lords red leather interior. This vehicle was build and supplied new by ourselves and has one keeper and a full service history. This V8 S carries the balance of Aston Martin's warranty until November 2018. Contact our team for more information on the model. Tailored finance packages available. Nationwide delivery available

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 14054 mi
    • Engine size: 4.7
    For sale
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £40,995 £40,995

    Aston Martin Vantage 4.3 V8 This Two Keeper Car Not Only Has An Incredibly Low Mileage Reading, But Also Boasts The Perfect Aston Martin Past Service Inventory With Visits Recorded At 199, 734, 1578, 2300, 4599, 6414, 7190, 8019, 8519 And 8999 Miles, With The Last Carried Out In March 2017. Chiltern Green Metallic, Presented In The Out Of Range Chiltern Green Metallic With The Phantom Grey Leather Sport Seating Delicately Detailed With Dark Grey Twin Needle Stitch Work, Tailors Grey Suede Roof Lining, Phantom Grey Leather Dash That Wraps Around This Dynamic Internal Space And Beautifully Finished With Dark Alloy Interior Inlays. This Perfect Example, Has The Folllowing Build Options To Include 19" 7 Spoke Alloy Wheels Which All Sit On Branded Tyres, Dual Zone Climate Control, Rear Distance Park Control, HID Xenon Headlights With Levelling And Wash Function, Bright Silver Front Grille, Dark Grey Embossed Aston Martin Brake Calipers, Phantom Grey Leather Bound Multi Functional Steering Wheel, Cruise Control, Chromed Twin Exhaust System, Push Button Start, Heated Front Screen, Power Fold Mirror Function, Full Colour Information Screen With Satellite Navigation System, Warm Charcoal Seat Belts, Electric Front Seating, Variable Heated Seats, Remote Central Locking With Alarm, Aston Martin Steel Pedal Set And So Much More. Presented To The Next Keeper With A Complete Booklet Pack Set, A Full Key Set And A Cleared Hpi Report...This Has To Be One Of The Best Examples Available In Today`s UK Market Place, So To Register An Interest, Then Please Contact Either Jonathan Or Mark On 01623 622627. Attractive Funding Options Are Also Available Upon Request - £40,995

    • Year: 2006
    • Mileage: 9415 mi
    • Engine size: 4.3
    For sale
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