ALL THE ROAD CARS 1970s-1990s
Lagonda saloon 1974-1976
Based on the AM V8 but with a stretched wheelbase, the 1974 Lagonda saloon was the first car since the 1961 Rapide to wear the Lagonda badge, and it was not a success. Most of the blame can be attached to the 1974 oil crisis, which seriously limited the appeal of any V8-powered supersaloon, let alone one that would rarely see mpg in double figures. In fact the Lagonda was an impressive and capable machine, but during the two years of production just seven were sold (though another was later assembled from parts).
One of the most extraordinary cars ever to reach production, the William Towns-designed Lagonda caused a sensation when it was unveiled in 1976. Its advanced but troublesome electronics delayed production for almost two years, and the price was stratospherically high (£50,000 in 1980), but it eventually found a market in the Middle East and stayed in production for more than a decade, during which 645 were sold. Under the bonnet was the familiar V8, its performance somewhat blunted by the two-ton kerbweight.
Virage/virage Volante 1989-1996
By the mid-’80s the AM V8 and its Vantage big brother were living on borrowed time, and, under the direction of Victor Gauntlett, Aston began work on a replacement. The Virage was largely still based on the V8, but its new body (by John Heffernan and Ken Greenley), an updated 32-valve fuel-injected V8 and other refinements were enough to give Aston new impetus. In 1992 came the Volante version, and also a Works-developed 500bhp 6.3 monster with widened bodywork. Sales of all variants reached 1050.
V8 Vantage/vantage Volante 1977-1989
Often described as ‘Britain’s first supercar’, the Vantage of 1977 was based on the AMV8 but was now a model-line in its own right. With a 375bhp version of the 5.3-litre V8 (later 405bhp) and a top speed of 170mph, it was pitched head-to-head with the Ferrari Boxer and Lamborghini Countach for the title of world’s fastest car. Distinguished by its blanked-off grille and bonnet scoop, deep air dam and bootlid spoiler, it certainly looked the part. By the time production ended in 1989, 534 had been built, 192 of them Volantes.
V8 Zagato/zagato Volante 1986-1989
Resurrecting the partnership with Italian design house Zagato in the mid-’80s was a masterstroke by Aston’s then-boss Victor Gauntlett, especially when all 50 coupes were immediately snapped up at £87,000 a pop (37 convertibles were also built). The ’80s Zagato couldn’t match the beauty of the ’60s original, but its performance was sensational. Based on the V8 Vantage but with even more power and considerably lighter, it broke 5sec from 0-60mph and was verified at 185.8mph, making it the fastest Aston yet.
Vantage (supercharged) 1993-2000
The wide-bodied 6.3-litre V8 had shown the appetite for a faster Virage, and in 1993 came the full-house Vantage version, extensively restyled (only roof and doors were carried over) with a twinsupercharged version of the 5.3-litre engine providing 550bhp and 550lb ft – at the time the most powerful production engine in the world. In 1998 came the V600, with an additional 50bhp – enough to propel this near-two-ton monster to a reported 200mph. A final run of 40 ‘Le Mans’ special editions brought total production to 279.
SPECIFICATION Engine 5340cc, V8 Power 432bhp @ 6250rpm Torque 400lb ft @ 5000rpm 0-60mph 4.8sec Top speed 186mph
SPECIFICATION (V600) Engine 5340cc, V8, twin s/c Power 600bhp @ 6200rpm Torque 600lb ft @ 4400rpm 0-60mph 4.6sec Top speed 190mph+
SPECIFICATION Engine 5340cc, V8 Power 280bhp @ 5500rpm Torque 301lb ft @ 3000rpm 0-60mph 8.8sec Top speed 143mph
SPECIFICATION Engine 5340cc, V8 Power 330bhp @ 6000rpm Torque 350lb ft @ 3700rpm 0-60mph 6.0sec Top speed 155mph
SPECIFICATION Engine 5340cc, V8 Power 375bhp @ 5500rpm Torque n/a 0-60mph 5.3sec Top speed 170mph
SPECIFICATION Engine 5340cc, V8 Power 280bhp @ 5500rpm Torque 301lb ft @ 3500rpm 0-60mph 6.2sec Top speed 149mph