Aston Martin V8 Vantage V550

Aston Martin V8 Vantage V550

Aston Martin V8 Vantage V550

  • 186MPH

    Top speed

  • 4.6 seconds

    0-60 time

  • 550BHP

    Power

  • £100,000

    Value


No car of the 1990s could propel its occupants with such speed and in such opulent comfort as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage V550.

A rebodied Virage – only the roof and doors were carried over – the V550 name denoted the colossal power that saw one of Newport Pagnell’s last hand-built cars surge to 186mph, passing 60mph in just 4.6 seconds.

That this is slightly slower than a Lamborghini Diablo or Ferrari 550 Maranello should be put firmly in context; the Aston is no lightweight racer, it’s a grand tourer pushing two tonnes, nearly half a tonne heavier than the Italians.

Pound for pound then, the V550 was pure supercar in a large coupe body – in terms of output the most powerful car of its day thanks to its twin supercharged 5340cc V8 engine.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage V550
Aston Martin V8 Vantage V550

But that immense power married to a much softer suspension than that found in a pure-bred sportscar provided its own problems: the V550 could be less than stable and it took experience to handle it.

Even Jeremy Clarkson, who loved the sumptuous big-engined Brit, admitted: “The Vantage is not a car that you can jump into and drive quickly straight away – you’ve always got to remember the huge weight. Go into a corner too fast and it’s going to plough straight on.

“This is a Roll’s Royce…with attitude.”

Stopping such a heavy car from such high speeds was left to the 362mm-diameter, AP Racing front discs and callipers – at the time, the largest fitted to a production car.

Priced at close to £200,000, and with the all-new and significantly more modern DB7 launched in 1994, it’s not surprising that fewer than 250 standard V550s were built.

But rather than give up on the car, in 1998 Aston decided to boost the power to 600bhp with a matching 600lb ft of torque.

Then, in 1999, with European emission and safety regulations looming, Aston gave one last hurrah to the last of their coachbuilt cars, producing 40 V8 Vantage Le Mans specials to commemorate four decades since the marque’s win in the race.

The Le Mans came with Koni shocks, Eibach springs, and stiffer anti-roll bars, with the car distinguishable by its blanked out front grille, larger spoilers and modified side vents.

It was without doubt the most powerful production car in the world at the time, and Aston claimed a top speed of 200mph and 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds.

By the turn of the millennium, it was time for a new breed of sleek, V12-engined Astons to take the brand forward.

Here’s Clarkson enjoying himself in the V550:

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