To understand the future, at times it is needed to take a trip down the memory lane and open the window wide enough to take a sneak peek into the past.
On this occasion 1987 is our window, when Ford bought a 75-percent stake in Aston Martin, which led the way for Ford to buy Aston Martin outright In 1994. This was shortly followed by possibly the most idiotic move in part of Ford to roll the new acquired range into already failing Premium Auto Group in 1999.
The Premium failing Group (I am sure I am burning few bridges here) was a loose mishmash of other lines already owned by Ford which included Lincoln, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercury, and the new Aston Martin line.
Throughout 1980s and way into 2000 saw Ford injecting a large amount of cash into Aston Martin development just to give up ownership soon after. 2001 saw the assembly line roll out the V12 Vanquish and the press went wild about how Aston was finally entering the 21st century,
There is no doubt that Aston Martin build cars which are luxurious and comfortable, this was true in the past and still one of the main selling points of the range even today. They might not be the feat of engineering on paper, but they will turn heads through the sheer presence they have.
The above statement might not hold true, simply due to rarity of old Aston’s on the road, especially if we mention the 1990 Vantage model which I am sure most people won’t even remember, Which is weird, because by the end of its production run it was the most powerful car in the world.
Let’s go even further back to 1989 and take a look at the Virage, when Aston started selling this magnificent car.
The Virage chassis was steel, but the body was aluminum. The 5.3 liter V8 engine was the same block Aston had used in previous models, but it was updated to house a new 32-valve head.
There were some curveballs thrown in to make things interesting. Virage got little interior and exterior parts from GM (stalks), Ford (buttons and switches), Jaguar (doorhandles), Audi (headlights), and Volkswagen (taillights).
Another reviewer captured this perfectly, “It was the kind of car where the leather would be quite possibly the finest in the business, enough to put a Jaguar to shame and threaten a Rolls Royce, but the parts bin headlight dial would flex in your hand.
It was the kind of car where all the instrument gauges would be beautifully designed, but the slightest bit of sunshine would make them invisible. And one of the dials would read in the opposite direction from all the others for no discernible reason”.
The Virage had 330 horsepower, the Vantage had 550. That’s right, Three hundred and thirty and Five hundred and fifty. Just to get this into some sort of perspective, in 1993 this was as much power as you would get in a 200+ mph midengine supercar, but jammed into the front of a large, four-seat coupe.
That’s right, Three hundred and thirty and Five hundred and fifty.
How did they do it? Simple really, they twin-supercharged it. Not one, but two superchargers, working in tandem . One housed on each set of valve covers.
Aston pulled all the plugs and went overboard . They hardened up the suspension, they widened the tires, they added a new transmission with a sixth gear, and they added spoilers front and rear to keep the car stable, however the handling still sucked to no end.
The Vantage was a Jeremy Clarkson kind of a car — nostalgic, loud, a bit of a blowhard. Naturally he loved it, when he reviewed it on one of Top Gear episodes.
So how does Aston Martin deal with all the issues? Yet another simple solution was found, they just gave the it more power.
The cooling system for the big supercharged V8 wasn’t as efficient as it could have been, so they just added an additional intercooler, then they added a new exhaust, and a pinch of pixie dust and BOOM, 50 extra horsepower.
In 1998, Aston offered a V600 package hiking power up to, you guessed it, 600 bhp. Apparently 56 people bought the package, meaning there are 56 more people out there with Jeremy Clarkson power hungry mentality, which is rather worrying.
Aston Martin was faced with a dilemma, with upcoming emissions regulation, they knew the Vantage sale would grind to a halt. So they made a decision, they made a special limited edition, and It was called “Le Mans”, and it was to be the last hand made Aston named after the company win in 1959. They built 40 copies, Priced just shy of £230,000.
Le Mans came packing a 600 bhp, 600 lb-ft of torque. Koni shocks, Eibach springs, AP Racing 6-piston calipers on ventilated discs, stiffer anti-roll bars. Top speed was a claimed 200 mph and 0-60 also cited at 3.95 seconds.
Le Mans came packing a 600 bhp, 600 lb-ft of torque.
Those figures were never really verified, some French journalists attempted to max out one 1970s V8 Vantage on an illegal highway run, but could barely reach 185, under the quoted 186.
So, It wasn’t a good car by any real measure, nor was it a car that many people wanted to buy.
Now, however it is back again. Aston Martin has announced a limited run of previous-generation V12 Vantages, and by limited run, we really mean limited. Aston is building just seven coupes and seven roadsters.
All are customer-commissioned, it’s also a goodbye to the current-generation Vantage before the face-lifted 2019 model arrives.
There are some unique design features which include a carbon fiber rear diffuser, darker grille, exclusive center-lock forged aluminum wheels, and a more pronounced hood and side strakes inspired by the 1998 car.
The car’s interior is different as well, themed around dark aluminum and carbon fiber with a new leather seat design pattern.
The limited-edition V12 gets a naturally-aspirated 6.0-liter V-12 pushing 600 PS (591 mechanical horsepower), hooked up to a seven-speed manual transmission. Other notable upgrades include a dual independent wishbone suspension and a quad-exhaust system.