As­ton Vi­rage

Shrewd buy­ers have started to look past the last old-school As­ton’s short­com­ings

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As­ton’s Vi­rage of 1988 has al­ways been a wall­flower. While the glam and svelte DB cars have mush­roomed in price, the chunky Vi­rage has flat­lined. Maybe it’s the cock­tail of parts-bin en­gi­neer­ing that put en­thu­si­asts off – Audi 200 head­lights, Volk­swa­gen Scirocco rear lamps, Ford Taurus airbag and those more ob­vi­ous Blue Oval bits.

Ford may have been ul­ti­mate owner of As­ton Martin by the time the Vi­rage hit show­rooms in 1990 but its orig­i­nal ges­ta­tion was or­ches­trated by As­ton boss Vic­tor Gauntlett, who had cho­sen its bru­tal styling from a de­sign ten­der by two Royal Col­lege of Art tu­tors, John Hef­fer­nan and Ken Green­ley.

Gaunt­let also had the 5.3 V8 re­worked us­ing We­ber-marelli in­jec­tion and Call­away (of Corvette-tun­ing fame) cylin­der heads. So in many ways the Vi­rage was one of, if not the, last hand-built As­ton cre­ated us­ing New­port Pag­nell’s time-hon­oured party trick of plun­der­ing every­body else’s parts in­ven­tory. Even the steer­ing col­umn had a Gen­eral Mo­tors part num­ber.

But as an end-of-an-era As­ton we should stop be­ing sniffy about the Vi­rage. Only 1050 units were built (37 of which were lhd) mak­ing it ac­tu­ally rarer than the DB4 or DB6, and that ea­ger-revving 330bhp V8 is good for 160mph and sixty in 6.5 sec­onds.

But most of all we should look at what’s hap­pen­ing to prices. Last year Sil­ver­stone Auc­tions sold a 45,000-mile ’94 coupé with to­tal his­tory in Mid­dle­sex Green for a bar­gain £38,475 but since then in­ter­est seems to have gal­vanised. Luigi Mo­tor Ser­vices in Cheshire has a blue ’91 auto coupé with 80k for £50k while Clas­sic­mo­bilia in Bucks has chas­sis 7, the 1990 fac­tory press car with 15,000 miles, for a solid £97,500. Van­tages, Volantes, Works Ser­vice 6.3s and wide-body cars are all ris­ing too. The EX-HRH Prince Charles ’94 6.3 Volante sold by Bon­hams in 2012 for £119,100 is now up at a blis­ter­ing £350,000. Be quick and you might still bag an early sen­si­ble-mileage man­ual coupé (60% were au­tos) for less than £50k; find a well-trav­elled auto in a less-de­sir­able colour be­ing sold pri­vately and it’ll com­mand even less. I’m not ex­pect­ing those kind of bot­tom-rung price op­por­tu­ni­ties to hold for much longer.

‘We should all stop be­ing sniffy about the As­ton Vi­rage – the smart money al­ready has’

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