1992 Aston Martin Vantage V550/600


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"Brutal" was a word used more than once to described the fastest Aston Martin ever on its introduction in 1993, but as the Vantage had no less than 550 bhp available to propel its two tons, the choice can only be judged fair comment.

After almost 20 years in production, Aston's V8 had been updated for the 1990's as the Virage. A consummate fast tourer, The Virage left room at the top of the range for an out-and-out sports car, hence the Vantage. Although the two models appear superficially similar, few panels are shared and beneath the skin of the Vantage chassis boasts the kind of extensive re-engineering required to cope with the massive increase in performance. The latter comes courtesy of a blown version of the Aston 5,340cc V8, twin mechanically driven Eaton superchargers being preferred to turbo-charging on the grounds of superior throttle response. Quite apart from its stupendous maximum output, remarkable enough in itself, the engine is monstrously torquey, producing 550lb/ft at 4,000rpm, a figure that makes even the mighty Chrysler Viper V10's 450lb/ft seem puny by the way of comparison and the ZF manual gearbox's six-speeds an unnecessary luxury.

On test with "Autocar" magazine, a development Vantage raced to 60mph in a Ferrari 512TR-destroying 4.6 seconds, reaching the "ton" just 5.5 seconds later.

The standing kilometre was achieved in 23.1 seconds with the speedometer registering close to 150 mph (242km/h) and although a true top speed figure proved unobtainable, the car was reported as having already recorded 191 mph (308km/h) while test in France. "Autocar" summed up the Vantage as, a real Aston Martin; a big, very beautiful, very fast, albeit expensive GT with so much appeal and purpose behind it that it is more an experience than it is mere transport.