ALL THE ROAD CARS 1970s-1990s

VANTAGE - - The Specialist | Gtc Engineering -

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).

Lagonda 1978-1990

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

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