Rare Rides: The 1990 Aston Martin Virage - End of Aston Independence
The Rare Rides series featured a vintage Aston Martin once before, when we took a look at the luxurious Lagonda sedan from 1984. Today we move forward in history a few years to see a luxurious, large coupe that’s more along the lines of what you’d expect from the Aston Martin brand.
It’s a Virage, from 1990.
The Virage occupied an interesting time in the history of Aston Martin with regard to both ownership and product offerings. Throughout the 1980s, the company continued producing the same vehicles it made since the middle Seventies. The aforementioned Lagonda debuted in 1974, and the V8 coupe (regular and DBS) had been available since 1969. The only other mainstream model the company offered was the V8 Vantage, which was new for 1977.
As the 1980s drew to a close, Aston Martin prepared a single new car to hold the banner for the brand. That car was the V8 Virage. Introduced for 1989, the Virage would end up the last model developed while Aston Martin was still under the ownership of Victor Gauntlett. Gauntlett was a wealthy petroleum executive who revived the Aston Martin brand in the early Eighties. Before that, Aston suffered through three different owners between 1970 and 1979.
When it debuted at the Birmingham Motor Show in 1988, Aston Martin pitched the Virage as its new flagship. More than that, it would be its everything for the first few years of production. From 1989 to 1992 the Virage was the only Aston Martin offering, joined by the higher performance (and identical looking) V8 Vantage in 1993, and the Ford-funded DB7 in 1994. By that time the company came under Ford’s corporate umbrella. The DB7 was in the works under Gauntlett’s ownership, but the cash required to develop an all-new model was more than he wanted to bear. Ford purchased a small stake in Aston in 1987, and Gauntlett stayed on as the chairman through 1991. That year, with DB7 development heating up, Ford took a controlling stake in Aston Martin. Gauntlett stepped aside for Walter Hayes, VP for Ford of Europe.
As one might imagine, the development of the Virage occurred on a bit of a budget. The chassis was a variant of the old Lagonda’s design. Keen eyes will recognize the tail lamps from a Volkswagen Scirocco and switches from European Fords. Powered by an aluminum 5.3-liter V8, 330 horsepower propelled the 3,946-pound coupe to 158 miles an hour. Finding 60 in 6.5 seconds even with an automatic transmission, it was a very quick car for the time. A five-speed manual was optional, and was selected about 40 percent of the time. The automatic in Virage examples before 1994 (like here) was the ever-popular three-speed TorqueFlite from Chrysler. Living on through 1995 (365 produced), the original Virage morphed slightly into the V8 Coupe that ran through 2000.
Today’s Rare Ride is located in the Netherlands, and asks about $96,700. Generally, for examples located in North America with low miles, asking prices are between $75,000 and $90,000.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- SCE to AUX Good summary, Matt.I like EVs, but not bans, subsidies, or carbon credits. Let them find their own level.PM Sunak has done a good thing, but I'm surprised at how sensibly early he made the call. Hopefully they'll ban the ban altogether.
- SCE to AUX "Having spoken to plenty of suppliers over the years, many have told me they tried to adapt to EV production only to be confronted with inconsistent orders."Lofty sales predictions followed by reality.I once worked (very briefly) for a key supplier to Segway, back when "Ginger" was going to change the world. Many suppliers like us tooled up to support sales in the millions, only to sell thousands - and then went bankrupt.
- SCE to AUX "all-electric vehicles, resulting in a scenario where automakers need fewer traditional suppliers"Is that really true? Fewer traditional suppliers, but they'll be replaced with other suppliers. You won't have the myriad of parts for an internal combustion engine and its accessories (exhaust, sensors), but you still have gear reducers (sometimes two or three), electric motors with lots of internal components, motor mounts, cooling systems, and switchgear.Battery packs aren't so simple, either, and the fire recalls show that quality control is paramount.The rest of the vehicle is pretty much the same - suspension, brakes, body, etc.
- Theflyersfan As crazy as the NE/Mid-Atlantic I-95 corridor drivers can be, for the most part they pay attention and there aren't too many stupid games. I think at times it's just too crowded for that stuff. I've lived all over the US and the worst drivers are in parts of the Midwest. As I've mentioned before, Ohio drivers have ZERO lane discipline when it comes to cruising, merging, and exiting. And I've just seen it in this area (Louisville) where many drivers have literally no idea how to merge. I've never seen an area where drivers have no problems merging onto an interstate at 30 mph right in front of you. There are some gruesome wrecks at these merge points because it looks like drivers are just too timid to merge and speed up correctly. And the weaving and merging at cloverleaf exits (which in this day and age need to all go away) borders on comical in that no one has a bloody clue of let car merge in, you merge right to exit, and then someone repeats behind you. That way traffic moves. Not a chance here.And for all of the ragging LA drivers get, I found them just fine. It's actually kind of funny watching them rearrange themselves like after a NASCAR caution flag once traffic eases up and they line up, speed up to 80 mph for a few miles, only to come to a dead halt again. I think they are just so used to the mess of freeways and drivers that it's kind of a "we'll get there when we get there..." kind of attitude.
- Analoggrotto I refuse to comment until Tassos comments.