No Buyers Fees
When Aston Martin released the Virage unto the world in 1988, it made waves. A tall, broad car that enjoys enviable road presence, it was a demonstration of how Aston designers were looking to push the way the brand was perceived. Certainly, the Virage and Vantage of this era were seen as being more Lagonda than Aston Martin, which was no bad thing. The outgoing DBS had become dated and while still a brilliant car, wasn’t in keeping with the offerings of Aston’s peers. As such, the bold new direction of the Virage was what was needed.
The car for auction here is a wonderfully curious model, and one that takes the best of two schools of thought. Look at it, and there is no mistaking the wider, more aggressive bodywork with its flared arches and deep spoilers. The barrel-like three-piece OZ split rims serve to further back up this car’s wide, muscular looks. However, under the bonnet you will not find the 6.3 litre V8 you might expect. Instead, you’ll find the more tame and arguably more usable 5.3 quad-cam V8. Though take the word ‘tame’ with a pinch of salt - there is still some 329bhp and a more than ample 350lb ft. More than enough to shuffle this car to a limited top speed of 155mph. But in a more usable, less frantic and intimidating way than offered by the bigger 6.3 version. In terms of transmission, this 5.3 model features a four-speed Torqueflight automatic.
Then of course, there is the crowning glory of this particular car, the element that earns it the name of Volante. For hard-nosed apex hunting, the coupe is arguably the car of choice. However, in the real world, a convertible is the way to go, which is what Volante means in Aston language.
The combination of Volante designation, the wide body and the 5.3 make this a rare machine indeed. It’s approximated that around 240 Virage Volantes with the 5.3 were produced. However, the number with the ‘Works Service’ package, which this car has in the form of the wheels, the wider wings, spoilers and additional vents, is thought to be significantly lower.
As you would expect for such a car, there is plenty of service history included. Over its twenty-five year life, this Virage Volante has been left wanting for very little if anything at all. This is proven by the included spreadsheet overview that details every item of work carried out, including invoice totals - over this car’s life, some £21,000 has been spent on its upkeep, which serves to prove this car has never been left wanting. The most reven work, carried out in 2019, was a complete service by classic and specialist vehicle experts, Road Rally Race of Paignton.
While at Road Rally Race the Virage received a new fuel tank sender, new injector seals, new plugs, new wiper switch, new gearbox oil and filter, new differential oil, new rear wheel bearings and even a new stereo. This was all on top of what the Aston Martin service schedule required.
Over its life, this Virage has benefitted from a radiator recore, specialist wheel polishing, a new limited-slip differential in 2008, and myriad maintenance works such as new oil seals, a new battery and every service item required.
The level of detail and dedication that has gone into this car’s uptake should be more than enough to inspire confidence. Combine this with the low mileage and you’re left with a car that, while some twenty-five years old, has many, many more years ahead of it.
The overall condition of this Virage Volante is, as you would expect given the low mileage of just 29,600, generally excellent. With the exception of one small stone chip (see images) on the nearside corner of the bonnet, the metallic blue bodywork is immaculate. The current owner informs us that, to his knowledge, the car has never needed to have any paintwork. The condition of the car would certainly back that up. The paint gleams with a deep lustre and the panels show no flaws or imperfections. The only issue we could see was some slight bubbling/corrosion on the wing mirror bases. However, it is only slight and in no way detracts from the overall presentation.
Under the bonnet, the engine is presented in excellent, original condition. By no means a concours engine bay, this is instead honest and representative of a car that has been owned and enjoyed. There are no signs of any leaks, the bonnet lining is still complete and in good condition and the engine itself still wears its charmingly aged build plaque with pride. In the case of this 5.3 quad-cam V8, assembly was completed by Ron Russell.
As you’d expect with such low mileage, the interior is in outstanding condition. This car was specified with deep blue carpets, cream hand-stitched Connolly hide with contrasting blue piping and of course, acres of highly polished burr walnut. There is the faintest bit of wear to the outermost bolster of the driver’s seat (pictured), along with minor wear from use on the handbrake and gear selector. The leather is free from damage and imperfections, the carpet too. The dashtop is arrow-straight with no evidence of sun damage.
The electronically-operated mohair roof is in perfect condition and shows no damage or wear. The internal headlining of the roof may benefit from some sort of cleaning or treatment, as there are signs of age, but nothing that affects the integrity of it. If anything, its current condition is befitting of the car’s age. The cover for the roof when folded is present and again, is in excellent condition. All fixing and fasteners are present and functional.
At the rear of the car, the boot is dry and clean with all carpet panelling still in place. The tool kit and space saver spare wheel are also still present and correct, as is a raft of Aston Martin documentation including the leatherbound Technical Guide. The only negative to be identified is the sign of some corrosion around the number plate light mounting area, which will need treatment at some point in the future.
Underneath, there is nothing of concern to report. As you may expect of a car of this design, there is some light scaping on the lowermost edge of the chin spoiler, and the exhaust silencers show some slight damage from contact with bumps in the road. Other than that, the underside seems to be free from any serious corrosion or damage, the suspension is in good order as are the visible bushes, and there are no signs of any concerning leaks.
The beauty of this Virage Volante is that 5.3 engine. It still packs an impressive and eager amount of power, but without being as intimidating or as ‘full on’ as the 6.3 version. In the real world, on real roads, the 5.3 is the engine to go for.
As you can hear in the included video, the V8 is in rude health and sounds nothing short of glorious as it burbles through those twin exhausts. On the road, the noise of the engine as it rises and falls through the gears is captivating. Drive this with the roof down and, good though the Sony stereo is, you won’t need or want it.
The car pulls cleany and quickly though all four gears, and shifts without hesitation. Kickdown engages without fault, and the car feels pleasingly stable throughout any aggressive acceleration.
The steering is direct, with the wheel offering a great deal of feedback to the driver. The power assistance works well, especially when you consider the work involved to keep the wider front tyres pointing where the driver wants! Well-suited to the drive of the Virage, the steering is well weighted and engaging.
The suspension is in good order, and while perhaps not as hard-nosed as some later Astons, it’s suited to the car perfectly, with just enough roll and softness to make this a proper GT car rather than a race car without a roof. Make no mistake though, the Virage is well planted and you quickly build confidence with it. There’s a level of communication through those big, wide tyres, too. It’s very much a car you feel intrinsic to the drive of, you’re not just a passenger.
Back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, the Virage of this era was a car that was lost on many, and it struggled to find a market. Today, however, that has all changed, and for the better. The Virage in any guise is a car that collectors seek to own. A car like this, with the rare ‘Works Service’ treatment, astonishingly low mileage and desirable trim specification is a car that will no doubt send collectors into something of a frenzy. For many, this car, in this specification, is the perfect Aston Martin of the ‘90s era.
The car’s once sudden and surprising aesthetic has softened with time, and we now look at it as its designers once did. We see it today as a wide, purposeful muscle car of sorts. The high back, the wide wheels under flared arches, the always communicative V8 engine - these are things we crave from cars today, but today’s cars leave us lacking. We have to look to the past. And usually, that brings with it a level of compromise. Mileages, condition, so on and so forth. But such concerns don’t exist here. The mileage is just 29,600. The condition is, bar some minor age-related flaws, remarkable. This is possibly as close as the discerning Aston Martin fan of 2020 can get to a new car from 1995.
**Please note; Private plate not included in sale.**
**Update: The seller has advised there will be a fresh MOT provided with this vehicle**