In spite of the appeal of the V8 saloon and Volante, Aston Martin had become a cash-strapped marque that was falling behind its rivals as it stubbornly kept the models -- which had been around since the Sixties -- in production as the Eighties drew to a close. A change was long overdue or Aston would be in danger of consigning itself to the history books.

Instead of the constant updates it had been giving to the old V8, Newport Pagnell finally replaced the car in 1989 with a radical and rather special new model -- the Virage. With a bold and imposing new body accompanied by a far more potent 5.3-litre V8 mated to a five-speed manual (an optional three-speed auto could be had) the newbie drew praise when it was unveiled at the Birmingham mMotor show for its timeless yet muscular appearance.

It was immediately accepted as the new face of Aston even though it retained a fair bit of the predecessor's chassis. In many ways it was the final hurrah of the original V8, but Aston added extra fury to the Virage. It wanted to remind owners it was still one of the world's greatest supercar builders. It did just that with the eager and quicker revving 5.3 making 330bhp, 494Nm of torque, a top speed of 254kph and the ability to hit 100kph from rest in 6.8 seconds. The sensational new coupé sure hit the sweet spot. A year later, the Volante -- a two-seater -- hit the scene and throughout the Nineties, the model was constantly updated until production drew to a close in 2000. The final Virage variant was the ultra-limited V8 Vantage Volante of which just nine were produced.

During the car's run, customers could have their Virage upgraded by the Works Service team who were more than happy to shove a 500bhp 6.3-litre under the massive bonnet. Torque went up to 650Nm and top speed rose to 274kph. The front and rear suspension was stiffened up, it got Racing Group 'C' AP anti-lock brakes, Goodyear 285/45/ tyres and flared fenders to accommodate the 18in wheels.

Today, when hunting for a Virage Volante there are a few things to look out for; interiors can cost a small fortune to repair, while worn out rubber door seals can let water in and damage the cabin, or worse, the ECUs, which are floor mounted. The V8s tend to suffer from failed cylinder liner seals and if you spot water or oil seeping from these then prepare to have them, very expensively, repaired.


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