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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
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  • 2016 Aston Martin Vantage GT8

    POA POA

    7-Spoke Satin Black Alloys, Gloss Carbon Fibre Aero Package (Carbon Fibre Rear Wing & Carbon Fibre Elements Added To Front Splitter), Black Textured Titanium Exhaust, Exposed Carbon Fibre Lower Valances, Carbon Fibre Mirror Cap, Carbon Fibre Tailgate, Racing Green Special Q Commissioned Paint, Polycarbonate Rear Window, Reversing Camera, Pure Black Alcantara Seats, Glass Switches, Gear Knob & Gaiter, Yellow Brake Calipers, Leather ECU Pouch, 1 Owner From New, UK Supplied, Exceptional Example! Carbon Fibre Fascia & Piano Black Trim Pack, Satin Lacquer Carbon Fibre Door Panels, Carbon Fibre Manual Gearshift Surround, Aston Martin Lightweight Seats With Manual Adjustment, Vantage GT8 Badge Embroidered On Seat Headrests, Bluetooth Audio Streaming, Satellite Navigation, DAB Radio, iPod/iPhone Interface, Automatic Climate Control, Automatic Headlights, Electrically Adjustable/Heated/Folding Exterior Mirrors, Rain Sensing Wipers, Obsidian Black Alcantara Steering Wheel, Black Pedals, Special Edition Vantage GT8 Sill Plaque, Clear Rear Lamps, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System.

    • Mileage: 625 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
    Romans International
    01737 742 805 View contact number
  • Aston Martin Vantage

    £56,995 £56,995

    Air Conditioning, Bluetooth, Climate Control, Colour SatNav, Comms Pack, Dual Climate Zones, Full Leather, Powered Folding Mirrors, Rain-Sensing Wipers, Xenon Headlamps, Alarm, Anti-Theft System, Central Locking, Immobiliser, Locking Wheel Nuts, Remote Central Locking, Colour Coded Interior, Electric Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Head Restraints, Sports Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Cruise Control, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Parking Sensors, Power Steering, Stability Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Brake Assist, Multiple Airbags, Auto Lighting, Colour Coded Body, Headlamp Jetwash, Metallic Paintwork, Rear Spoiler, Auto-dip Rearview, Automatic Electric Windows, Electric Front Windows, Electric Mirrors, Push Button Start, CD Player, MP3 Player, Radio, Steering Wheel Audio Controls, Stereo, 19'' Alloys, Full main dealer service history An absolutely stunning and extremely rare Aston Martin Vantage finished in a fabulous colour combination. This car has an incredible specification including Factory Satellite Navigation System, Cruise Control, Climate Control, Bluetooth Telephone with steering wheel controls, Front & Rear Parking Sensors, Special Order Paint Finish, Double Stitched Leather Trim, Suede Headlining, Power Folding Mirrors, Paddle Shift Gearbox and much more. This car is amazing value at this price! It has a full Aston Martin main dealer service history ( 3 stamps )and is totally as new!! You simply won't find another one like this!!

    • Mileage: 22337 mi
    • Engine size: 4735
    For sale
    £56,995 £56,995
  • ASTON MARTIN Vantage S Coupe Spitfire 80 Edition 1 Of 8 Worldwide

    £249,950 £249,950

    Spitfire 80 is a unique tribute by Aston Martin Cambridge to the Supermarine Spitfire. Strictly limited to eight models the V12 Vantage S Spitfire 80 makes its excellence clear with unique Q by Aston Martin styling to match original Spitfire aircraft celebrating 80 years of this magnificent aircraft and Great British Engineering Seats In Kestral Tan stitched in Raven Black Corse Thread Dashboard In Pure Black Alcantara Stitched in Kestral Tan Corse Thread Carpets & Steering Wheel In Pure Black Exposed Satin Carbon Fibre Door cards with ‘Release’ Graphic Door Armrest Pad Assembly in Kestral Tan Door Armrest Pull Strap In Red Webbing with ‘Remove Before Flight’ print Interior Door Pull Finished In Satin Black Anodised Handbrake Grip In Spitfire Red Anodised Centre Rotary Switch With RAF roundel And ‘Spitfire 80’ etching Rear Cabin Finisher – Aluminium Strip – Hole Punched to match strut behind pilot’s head in Spitfire (part made by Aircraft Restoration Company Duxford) Tread Plates And C-Struts finished in ‘Cockpit Green’ As Well As Under Bonnet Struts Spitfire 80 Logo Embroided Into Headrests Sat Nav ‘Splash Screen’ With Spitfire 80 Logo Printed Leather Headlining Of Duxford Aerodro

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 650 mi
    For sale
    £249,950 £249,950
  • 911 R

    £379,900 £379,900

    Features 911 R C16 UK Supplied Taxes Paid Colour: Please Call For Information Interior: Please Call For Information 6-Speed GT Sports Manual Transmission 911 R Single Mass Flywheel 918 Buckets With Houndstooth / Black Extended Leather PCCB’s Sport Chrono Package Plus Navigation System Telephone System Bluetooth Connectivity Bose Sound Package I-Pod Connectivity DAB Full Interior Carbon Trim **Includes A Plethora Of Other factory Supplied Options Front Lifting System. Registered: () Owners: 1 Miles: 1,160 Colour: Metallic Paint Interior: 918 Seats BHP: 500 Print Details Enquire Part Exchange

    For sale
    £379,900 £379,900
  • Aston Martin Vantage Coupe Sportshift II

    £62,550 £62,550

    Registered 2014 Mileage 23,971 miles Engine Size 4.7 l Transmission Automatic Fuel Type Petrol Fuel Consumption 21.9 mpg Registered 2014 Registration RO63WGA Previous Owners 1 Fuel Consumption 21.9 mpg Tax Band M Tax Cost £535 Colour Black Interior Trim N/A Exterior Colour Onyx Black Doors 3 Fuel Type Petrol Bodystyle Coupe Mileage 23,971 miles Engine Size 4.7 l 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 Reversing Camera Auto Dimming Interior Rear View Mirror Automatic Headlights Alarm & Immobiliser 6 CD Autochanger Xenon Headlamps Memory Front Seats Powerfold Mirrors Glass Switches Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Electric Adjustable Front Seats 2014 Model Year Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) Front and Rear Parking Sensors Traction Control (TC) Heated Rear Screen LED Rear Lamps Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) Tyre Pressure Monitoring Seatbelts - Warm Charcoal Auto Wipers Climate Control 19 inch V Spoke Silver DT Wheels Electri

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 23971 mi
    For sale
    £62,550 £62,550
  • Aston Martin Vantage V12 Roadster

    £119,950 £119,950

    Registered 2013 Mileage 6,750 miles Engine Size 5.9 l Transmission Semi Auto Fuel Type Petrol Fuel Consumption 17.3 mpg Registered 2013 Registration Y6DCB Previous Owners 1 Fuel Consumption 17.3 mpg Tax Band M Tax Cost £535 Colour Silver Interior Trim N/A Exterior Colour Skyfall Silver Doors 2 Fuel Type Petrol Bodystyle Convertible Mileage 6,750 miles Engine Size 5.9 l Transmission Semi Auto 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 Bluetooth Telephone Preparation 10 Spoke Forged Black DT Alloy Wheels 6 CD Autochanger 700W Aston Martin Premium Audio System with Dolby Alarm Upgrade Volumetric & Tilt Sensors Alarm & Immobiliser Automatic Headlights Brake Calipers Black Bright Finish Grille Bright Tailpipe Finisher Carbon Ceramic Brakes Reversing Camera Carbon Fibre Interior Door Pulls Carbon Fibre Splitter and Diffuser Carbon Gear Surround Clear Rear Lamps Contrast Stitching Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) Emergency

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 6750 mi
    For sale
    £119,950 £119,950
  • 2011 (11) ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE COUPE 5.9 V12 3DR

    £75,995 £75,995

    DESCRIPTION AMARI is thrilled to offer you this outstanding example of the Aston Martin Vantage V12 5.9 featuring the Manual Gearbox, which is a 2011 / 11 Registered Example, in Morning Frost White with Obsidian Black Interior, having covered only 13,412 Miles by 4 Owners from New. EXTERIOR The exterior is presented to you in the gleaming Morning Frost White which is in a great condition all around. INTERIOR The interior is upholstered in Obisidan Black featuring contrasting stitching in Silver, and Headlining in Tailors Grey. Also in an excellent condition. SPECIFICATION The already huge specification of the Vantage is enhanced by the following options: Morning Frost White Obsidian Black Interior 10 Spoke Graphite DT Wheels w/ Corsa Aston Martin 700w Premium Audio Facia Trim - Piano Black Front Parking Sensors Garage Door Opener Seatbelts in Warm Charcoal Heated Front Seats Sports Seats Silver Stitching Headlining in Tailors Grey HISTORY The Service History is as follows: 30/03/2012 - *,*** Miles - Aston Martin Main Dealer 30/04/2013 - 4,478 Miles - Aston Martin Main Dealer 21/05/2014 - 10.060 Miles - Aston Martin Main Dealer 23/06/2015 - 11,954 Miles - Aston Martin Main Dealer 15/11/2017 - 13,420 Miles - Aston Martin Main Dealer The car has just had an MOT and the next is not yet due until the 25th October 2018. TYRES The car sits on ****** Tyres all around. Front: * Rear: * TYRE DEPTHS Front Right: *mm Front Left: *mm Rear Right: *mm Rear Left: *mm We have the original Owners Guide, 2 Keys. To arrange a viewing, please contact our team on 01772 663 777. Viewing strictly by appointment. Prior to offering for sale, all cars are subject to the AMARI Inspection, a stringent 170 point investigation of the car cosmetically, electrically and mechanically. Our resident master technicians attend to all issues prior to offering the car for sale, using the very latest and best diagnostic equipment, state of the art tools and methods. Our highly qualified master technicians can carry out servicing on all road cars, from the standard family hatch back to the latest Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston Martin... We are the only independent dealer with full Ferrari SDX Diagnostics and the Lamborghini LARAS Diagnostics systems. Our fully equipped workshop enables us to attend to any electrical, and mechanical issues, from intricate electrical repairs and renewals, to brake disc Skimming and air conditioning recharging. Before collection all cars go through our exhaustive detailing process (can take up to three days) using only the worlds finest Swissvax products, carried out by our professional certified Swissvax trained technicians, covering every aspect of the car inside and out. Collection and delivery throughout the UK can be offered through the most reputable manufacturer championed company who use only the very latest covered car transporters with extensive experience of transporting cars across the world. Vehicles are supplied with a three month warranty *Exclusions Apply. We offer part exchange and finance facility on most cars. AMARI Lifestyle Limited T/As AMARI SuperCars is authorised & Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (663066)

    • Mileage: 13412 mi
    • Engine size: 5.9
    For sale
    £75,995 £75,995