Aston pays tribute to V8 Vantage V550

After 30 years, a modern classic, Aston says. Damn right…

By PH Staff / Wednesday, 8 November 2023 / Loading comments

Much like old TV shows, it pays to look at old cars with eyes of a certain age. To the younger millennials and zoomers among us, it is perfectly possible that the V8 Vantage revealed in 1992 (and produced from 1993 till 1999) is about as interesting to think about as the first season of The X Files. After all, it was replaced by much prettier and better-driving Astons. But rest assured, to those of us old enough to recall the impact that a 25-year-old Gillian Anderson made on the nation’s consciousness, the power-crazed follow-up to the earlier Virage left quite the mark. 

It’s been 30 years since Aston delivered the first V550 examples to customers, an anniversary it has marked with a press release and some nice pics. But we’ll forgive the comparative lack of fanfare – especially with the Works department pointing out that the V550 was the very first car tested by Clarkson in his inaugural Sunday Times review. “Calling the performance explosive is like calling the space shuttle jolly clever… you will not have felt, or heard, anything like it in your life before,” he blustered. Lovely stuff, and surely appropriate for a model that introduced an additional 220hp over the Virage. 

The source of the gargantuan output upgrade – which also delivered 550lb ft of torque, let’s not forget – was, of course, a brace of Eaton M90 superchargers wedded to the 5.3-litre V8. With the cylinder banks getting one blower each, the new unit could spirit the 1,990kg coupe to 60mph in 4.6 seconds – brisk now, but positively ballistic back in ’93. Assuming you had the dexterity and nerve needed to work your way through the very manual ratios quickly enough. A mechanical limited-slip diff and the largest brakes – 362mm front; 310mm rear – then available on a production car (with ABS, mercifully) were standard, ditto the 18-inch alloys under flared arches. 

Really, though, it was about the vibe. The V550 cost £177,000 at launch (roughly £440k today, Aston helpfully points out) and was therefore a rare sight even at the time – just 239 were built. But its outsized reputation helped to solidify the firm’s reputation as a builder of British muscle cars; a lineage easily recognisable three decades later in models like the DBS 770 and the outrageous limited-edition Valour – the design of the latter specifically referencing the ’90s-era Vantage. Accordingly, if you want a V550 today, you’ll need to stump up modern classic money: here’s a lovely looking one, first owned by Adam Clayton of U2 fame, for £194,995. The even rarer V600, famously equipped with even more horsepower, is pricier still – this Chichester Blue example clocking in at £259,950. What a way to spend it. 

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