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