Aston Martin Virage


Aston Martin Virage

__NOTOC__The Virage was Aston Martin's replacement for the decades-old V8 models. Introduced at the Birmingham Motor Show in 1988, it was joined by the high-performance Vantage in 1993, and the name of the standard car was changed to V8 in 1996.

This V8-powered car was intended as the company's top model, with the 6-cylinder 1994 DB7 slotted below it. Although the DB7 switched to a V12 engine and claimed the performance crown, this V8 model remained the exclusive, expensive, and hand-built king of Astons. It was replaced in 2000 with the Vanquish. The V8 Vantage name reappeared on a new entry-level model in 2005. By the end of the 2000 model year, 1,050 of all Virage related models had been produced.

The design was fresh and modern, looking more like a Lagonda than the V8 Vantage it replaced. Indeed, the chassis was an evolution of the Lagonda's, with its de Dion tube rear suspension and double wishbones in front. To cut costs, many of the less-important pieces came from other companies, as had been the case for many an Aston past. The sleek headlights and taillights were Audi 200 and Volkswagen Scirocco units, respectively, while General Motors, Jaguar, and Ford provided the steering column, climate control panel, and dash switches. In fact, Ford purchased Aston Martin and Jaguar shortly after the Virage debuted.

The Virage was a large, heavy car, but the 32-valve 5.3 L (5340 cc) V8 engine's 350 ft·lbf (475 N·m) torque elevated its performance to near supercar levels. "Acceleration just never seems to run out", claimed "Sports Car International" on a first test. They also praised the "eager and quicker revving" nature of the 330 hp (246 kW) engine with its Callaway-designed heads and Weber-Marelli fuel injection. "Nothing sounds quite like an Aston V8," they concluded. The 1790 kg (3946 lb) car could reach 158 mph (254 km/h).

Volante

The Virage Volante convertible debuted for 1992 as a 2-seat car, but all production examples featured 2+2 seating. Sources claim 224 to 233 examples produced when the series ended in 1996. A new V8 Volante, with styling based on the V8 Coupe and supercharged Vantage was built from 1997 to 2000 on a lengthened chassis. 63 long chassis V8 Volante's were built.

Works Service

In January, 1992, Aston Martin introduced a conversion service, transforming the car into a Virage 6.3. As the name implies, the centerpiece of the conversion was a 6.3 L (6347 cc) V8 derived from the AMR1 racing car. This engine produced 500 hp (373 kW) at 6000 rpm and 480 ft·lbf (651 N·m) at 5800 rpm, allowing the car to reach 175 mph (282 km/h).

Other changes included 362 mm (14 in) ventilated disc brakes, the largest used in a passenger car until the Bentley Continental GT, and 18 in (457 mm) wheels. Visually, the 6.3 had wide flared bumpers, low sills and air dams, and side air vents.

In true British tradition, a shooting brake (estate) version was offered in extremely limited numbers beginning in 1992. Unlike prior Aston Shooting Brakes, however, the Virage was produced in-house by the company's Works Service. Estimates place the number of Virage Shooting Brakes at four.

Another rare Works Service car was the "Lagonda Saloon". Four of these long-wheelbase 4-door Virages were built as a special customer order, reviving Aston Martin's long-dormant second marque.

The final Virage variant was the ultra-limited "V8 Vantage Volante" of 2000. Nine of these high-performance convertibles were produced.

Vantage

As with many other Astons, a high-performance Vantage model of the Virage would later appear. First shown in 1992, the Vantage was produced from 1993 through 1999 and, like so many other Aston Vantages, soon became the only variant available. Indeed, the Virage name lasted just a few years, with its final descendants inheriting the simple and familiar V8 name.

The design was freshened, leaving only the roof and doors of the car intact. The Vantage was wider, appeared lower, and used four round "grapefruit" tail lights. Like the 6.3, the Vantage used record-sized 362 mm (14 in) brake discs.

The most radical change to the Vantage, however, was inside the engine compartment. The 5.3 L engine now sported twin superchargers. Power output topped the industry at 550 hp (410 kW), and torque was equally impressive at 555 ft·lbf (746 N·m). Top speed was 200 mph (320 km/h), with a dash to 60 mph (97 km/h) taking just 4.2 seconds. Considering that the kerb weight of the car was almost two tons, this was no mean feat. The engine was later uprated to 600 hp (447 kW) for the 1998 V600. The final 40 Vantages were sold with the Le Mans name to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Aston Martin's victory at that race. Like the V8 Vantage of the 1970s, these cars featured a blanked-out grille and modified side vents.

A less extreme V8 Coupe was also built. Lacking the superchargers, and the more aggressive body style of its big brother Vantage, the coupe produced 349 hp (260 kW) and 369 ft·lbf (500 N·m). 101 were built from 1996 through 2000.

U.S. Availability

The Virage did not become available in the United States until the summer of 1990 and the Virage Volante convertible would become available in 1992. Shooting Brakes and the Virage Vantage were not officially offered for sale in the U.S. No 1995 models were imported to the United States. 1996 was the final year of availability for the Aston Martin Virage in the U.S.

References

:1. cite journal|title=Anglophyle Style|author=Kevin Blick|journal=Sports Car International|volume=6.9|month=September | year=1990|pages=22–27:2. Covello, Mike, updated by, "Standard Catalog of Imported Cars: 1946-2002", Krause Publications, Iola, WI, U.S.A., 2002.:3. cite web|url=http://www.astonmartins.com/virage/index.html|title=Virage and Derivatives|work=AstonMartins.com|accessmonthday=June 23 |accessyear=2005


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