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Aston Martin Virage

The Aston Martin Virage is an automobile produced by British luxury automobile manufacturer Aston Martin as a replacement for its V8 models. Introduced at the Birmingham Motor Show in 1988,[2] it was joined by the high-performance Vantage in 1993, and then the name of the base model was changed to V8 Coupé in 1996.

Aston Martin Virage/Vantage/V8 Coupé/V8 Volante LWB
Aston Martin Virage.jpg
1991 Aston Martin Virage
Overview
ManufacturerAston Martin Lagonda Limited
Production
  • 1989–2000 (1,050 produced)
  • 2011–2012
Assembly
Designer
Body and chassis
ClassGrand Tourer (S)
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Chronology
PredecessorAston Martin V8 Vantage (1977)
Successor

The V8-powered model was intended as the company's flagship model, with the 6-cylinder DB7, introduced in 1994, positioned below it as an entry-level model. Although the DB7 became available with a V12 engine and claimed a performance advantage, the Virage remained the exclusive, expensive and hand-built flagship of the Aston Martin range. It was replaced in 2000 with the Vanquish. By the end of the 2000 model year, 1,050 cars in total had been produced. The V8 Vantage name reappeared on a new entry-level model in 2005.

A new Virage model was introduced at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, to fit into the middle of Aston Martin's then current lineup but was discontinued in 2012 due to many similarities between the brand's other models.

Virage/V8 Coupé and Works Service modelsEdit

Virage
 
Overview
Production1989–2000 (411 produced)[3]
Body and chassis
Body style2-door 2+2 coupé
Powertrain
Engine
  • 5.3 L V8
  • 6.3 L V8
Transmission
Dimensions
Wheelbase2,610 mm (102.8 in)
Length4,735 mm (186.4 in)
Width1,855 mm (73.0 in)
Curb weight1,790 kg (3,946 lb)
 
Aston Martin Virage engine bay
 
Interior

When compared to the preceding V8, the design was fresh and more modern. The Virage was more similar in design language to the Lagonda than the V8 it replaced. Indeed, the chassis was an evolution of the Lagonda's, with a de Dion tube rear suspension, located by triangulated radius rods and a Watts linkage, and a double wishbone unit at the front.[4] To cut costs, many of the less-important pieces came from other companies, as had been the case for Aston Martin automobiles of the past. The sleek headlights and taillights were sourced from the Audi 200 and the Volkswagen Scirocco respectively, while General Motors, Jaguar, and Ford provided the steering column, climate control panel, wing mirrors and dash switches. In fact, Ford had purchased Aston Martin and Jaguar shortly before the Virage debuted and it became the first model to be introduced under the new ownership.

 
Rear 3/4 view of Virage

The Virage was a large, heavy car in spite of its all-aluminium body, but the 32-valve 5.3 L (5,340 cc) V8 engine's 494 N⋅m (364 lb⋅ft) torque elevated its performance to near sports car levels. "Acceleration just never seems to run out", claimed Sports Car International during a first test. They also praised the "eager and quicker revving" nature of the 330 hp (246 kW; 335 PS) 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 attain a top-speed of 254 km/h (158 mph). The automatic variant could accelerate to 97 km/h (60 mph) from a standing start in about 6.5 seconds (7.4 seconds for the manual version).[2][3] An engine power upgrade to upgrade to 350 hp (261 kW; 355 PS) was announced at the 1996 Geneva Motor Show.[5] English actor Rowan Atkinson owned a Virage Coupé which featured on the front cover of Car (magazine) May 1990.[6] In the article he commented how the modern climate control system provided heating efficiency beyond the veteran Aston driver’s dreams and couldn’t believe warm air would emanate from the footwell within 90 seconds of start up.

The five-speed ZF Friedrichshafen manual was fitted to about forty percent of the cars produced. The more popular automatic option was the Chrysler three-speed Torqueflite transmission. For the 1993 model year, the three-speed unit was replaced by a four-speed automatic unit.[5] The six-speed manual from the Vantage also became optional at the end of the Virage's production run.[7]

Works ServiceEdit

In January, 1992, Aston Martin introduced a conversion service, upgrading the car into a Virage 6.3. As the name implies, the centerpiece of the conversion was a bored and stroked 6.3 L (6,347 cc) V8 derived from the AMR1 racing car. This engine has a power output of 500 hp (373 kW; 507 PS) at 6000 rpm and 480 lb·ft (651 N·m) of torque at 5800 rpm, allowing the car to attain a top speed of 282 km/h (175 mph).

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.

Virage Shooting Brake

A shooting brake (estate) version of the Virage was offered in limited numbers. It debuted at the March 1992 Geneva Motor Show. Unlike prior Aston Martin Shooting Brake models, however, the Virage was produced in-house by the company's Works Service, with six believed to be constructed in total. The cars were priced at GB£165,000. The cars are believed to have retained Virage chassis numbers, except two that received chassis numbers of the type "DP/2099".[8]

Lagonda Virage Saloon

The Lagonda Saloon is a long-wheelbase four-door Virage model that was built in very limited numbers to customer orders, reviving Aston Martin's long-dormant second marque. Introduced in 1994, it was manufactured by Aston Martin Works Service with a 12-inch (30 cm) chassis extension, although two were ordered with an 18-inch (460 mm) extension. The name refers to the four-door Aston Martin Lagonda. The Lagonda Virage cost about GB£250,000 and only eight or nine are believed to have been produced, with some being conversions of regular Virages.

Lagonda Virage Shooting Brake

The five-door Lagonda Virage Shooting Brake debuted at the same time as the Lagonda Virage. It was made by Aston Martin Works Service in only one or two examples, and has been spotted bearing "Vacances" badging at the rear.[9]

V8 Coupé
Aston Martin V8 Coupé

A less extreme V8 Coupé replaced the standard Virage from 1996 onwards having the updated styling inherited from the more powerful Vantage. Lacking the superchargers and the more aggressive body style of its sibling, the engine in the V8 Coupé has a power output of 350 hp (261 kW; 355 PS) and 369 lb·ft (500 N·m) of torque. In total, 101 examples of the V8 Coupé were built from 1996 through 2000.

Virage Volante/V8 VolanteEdit

Virage/V8 Volante
 
Overview
Production
  • 1992–1996 (Virage Volante)
  •   224 or 233 produced
  • 1997–2000 (V8 Volante)
  •   63 produced
Body and chassis
ClassGrand tourer (S)
Body style
Powertrain
Engine5.3 L V8
Transmission
 
1993 Aston Martin Virage Volante Widebody, rear view
 
Aston Martin V8 Volante Long Wheelbase

The convertible version of the Virage, called the Virage Volante debuted at the 1990 Birmingham Motor Show as a strict two-seater, but a 2+2 version was shown at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show.[2] Production examples, first appearing in 1992, were all to feature 2+2 seating. Sources state that either 224 or 233 examples had been produced when production ended in 1996. The last 11 examples already had the naturally aspirated 1995 version of the engine found in the later V8 and V8 LWB Volante models with the improved four-speed and overdrive Torqueflite automatic and a power output of 359 PS (264 kW; 354 hp), which may be part of why there is some disagreement to the production numbers.

1992 was also when Aston Martin introduced its 6.3-litre "Works Service" package, which included wider fenders to accommodate the larger OZ wheels and 14-inch disc brakes, additional vents, deeper sills, and other appearance modifications. This was immediately available on the Coupé as well as the Volante.[10] Aston Martin soon introduced a strictly cosmetic version called the Wide Body featuring the regular 5.3-liter engine; this was mainly intended for the United States market as the 6.3 was not certified for sale there. 13 of these were built for the United States, whereas only seven regular Virage Volantes were delivered there. In contrast to the "all show, no go" Wide Body Volante, the Prince of Wales chose to equip his 1994 Volante with the standard bodywork coupled with the 456 bhp (340 kW; 462 PS) 6.3-litre engine and a manual transmission.[11]

A new V8 Volante Long Wheelbase, with updated styling of the V8 Coupé was produced from 1997 to 2000 on a lengthened chassis. Only 63 units were built by the time production came to a halt.

VantageEdit

Vantage/Le Mans
 
Aston Martin Vantage V600
Overview
Production
  • 1993–2000
  • Vantage: (280 produced)
  • Volante: (8 SWB, 1 LWB)
Body and chassis
ClassGrand tourer (S)
Body style
Powertrain
Engine5.3 L twin-supercharged V8
 
Rear 3/4 view

As with many other Aston Martin models, a high-performance Vantage model of the Virage would later be introduced. First shown at Birmingham in September 1992, the Vantage was produced from 1993 through 2000 and, like many other Aston Vantage models would soon became the only variant available. The Virage name lasted just a few years, with its final descendants inheriting the simple and familiar V8 name.

The Vantage had new styling with only the roof, doors and wing mirrors shared with the Virage. The wing mirrors were later replaced in favour of newly styled wing mirrors exclusive to this model. The Vantage is wider, lower, used four round tail lights (later adopted for the base V8 Coupé), and featured new rear suspension and interior electronics. Like the 6.3, the Vantage used record-sized 362 mm (14 in) brake discs and 18 inch wheels.[7]

 
Engine compartment

The biggest change to the Vantage was inside the engine compartment. The 5.3 L (5,341 cc) V8 engine now used twin superchargers. Power output was now 558 PS (410 kW; 550 hp) (and homologated at 593 PS (436 kW; 585 hp)), and the torque was equally high at 555 lb·ft (745 N·m) at 4,000 rpm. Top speed was 300 km/h (186 mph), with acceleration to 97 km/h (60 mph) taking 4.6 seconds.[7] For the 1998 V600, the engine was upgraded to 608 PS (447 kW; 600 hp) at 6200 rpm and 600 lb⋅ft (813 N⋅m) of torque at 4400 rpm.[12] The earlier version is often referred to as "V550" to set it apart from the later, more powerful V600 model.

In 2000, Aston Martin's "Works Service" unit built nine bespoke Vantage Volante models (convertibles), one of which was built to long wheelbase specifications.

V8 Vantage Le MansEdit

 
Vantage Le Mans

The new European emission and safety regulations made Aston Martin decide to end production of the V8-Vantage line and the final model was called "V8 Vantage Le Mans". Honoring Aston Martin's 1959 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the prototype of a limited run of 40 was presented in Geneva in 1999 on the 40th anniversary of the win.

The engine delivers 612 PS (450 kW; 604 hp) and 820 N⋅m (605 lbf⋅ft) of torque, supported by a suspension reinforced with special Koni shock-absorbers and stiffer anti-roll bars. The bodywork featured a blanked-out front grille and modified side vents – replicating the side vents of the Le Mans winning DBR-1 – as well as a bigger front spoiler and rear skirt. The interior was reworked with a gigantic rev-counter, a special Titanium finish on some parts, and features such as heated windshield, parking radars, traction control, heated electric seats, and full Connolly leather upholstery with matching Wilton wool carpets. Wheels were the same Dymag magnesium units as seen on most V600s. Performance included a claimed top speed of 320 km/h (199 mph) and 0 to 100 km/h acceleration being achieved in 3.9 seconds. The keyholder was in sterling silver and a map from Newport-Pagnell to the legendary Le Mans track was provided in the delivery documents. Each car was made upon special commission and fitted with a number plate indicating also the name of the first owner.

U.S. availabilityEdit

The Virage would not become available in the United States until the summer of 1990 and the Virage Volante convertible became available later in 1992. Shooting Brake versions and the Virage Vantage were not officially offered for sale in the U.S. The car's availability ended after the 1993 model year, due to the lack of passenger airbags and inability to meet emissions regulations.[13]

Virage (2011–2012)Edit

Virage
 
Overview
Production2011–2012
Body and chassis
ClassGrand tourer (S)
Body style2-door 2+2 coupé or convertible (Volante)
LayoutFront mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive
PlatformVH Generation II
DoorsSwan
Related
Powertrain
Engine5.9 L V12
Transmission6-speed ZF 6HP26 (Touchtronic II) automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase2,741 mm (107.9 in)
Length4,719 mm (185.8 in)
Width1,905 mm (75.0 in) (without mirrors)
Height1,280 mm (50.4 in)
Curb weight1,740 kg (3,836 lb)[14]

A new generation of the Virage was introduced at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show by Aston Martin. The Virage capitalised on the technology from the DBS and united it with the comfort and refinement found in the DB9 and Rapide. The Virage was intended to sit in the narrow slot between the basic DB9 and the flagship DBS. Aston Martin announced that the second generation of the Virage would be discontinued after 18 months of production, as the distinctions between it, the DB9, and the DBS were simply too slim.[15]

 
Virage Volante (rear view)

The car has a 2-seat or 2+2 seating configuration. The Virage's 5.9-litre V12 engine has a power output of 497 PS (366 kW; 490 hp) and 570 N⋅m (420 lb⋅ft) of torque. It is capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds, and has a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). The Virage was available in two bodystyles: Coupé or Volante (convertible).[16][17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Virage". Aston Martin. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (March 1991). Automobil Revue 1991 (in German and French). 86. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 163. ISBN 3-444-00514-8.
  3. ^ a b McCourt, Mark J. (November 2016). "1991-1992 Aston Martin Virage". Hemmings. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Virage". Autocar & Motor: 29. 15 August 1990.
  5. ^ a b Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (6 March 1997). Automobil Revue 1997 (in German and French). 92. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 151. ISBN 3-444-10479-0.
  6. ^ "Car Magazine". May 1990. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ a b c Automobil Revue 1997, p. 153
  8. ^ "Virage Shooting Brake in Aston Martins.com". AstonMartins.com. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Virage Lagonda 5-door Shooting Brake". Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  10. ^ "1993 Aston Martin Virage Volante 'Wide Body'". Monterey, CA: RM Sotheby's. 15–17 August 2019. Lot 118. Archived from the original on 8 August 2019.
  11. ^ Wakefield, Steve (10 May 2012). "Driven: Aston Martin Virage Volante 6.3-Litre". Classic Driver. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014.
  12. ^ Nick D & Richard Michael Owen, ed. (20 April 2016). "1998 Aston Martin V8 Vantage V600". supercars.net. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  13. ^ Mateja, Jim (22 June 1997). "DB7 is a shout from long-hushed Aston Martin". Chicago Tribune.
  14. ^ "Aston Martin Virage: Specifications". Car & Driver. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  15. ^ Ramsey, Jonathon (4 September 2012). "Aston Martin Virage discontinued after short lifespan". AutoBlog. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  16. ^ Cropley, Steve (23 February 2011). "Aston brings back the Virage". Autocar. UK. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  17. ^ Knapman, Chris (23 February 2011). "Aston Martin brings back the Virage". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
1. Kevin Blick (September 1990). "Anglophyle Style". Sports Car International. 6.9: 22–27.
2. Covello, Mike, updated by, Standard Catalog of Imported Cars: 1946–2002, Krause Publications, Iola, WI, U.S.A., 2002.

External linksEdit