Aston Works celebrates 30 years of Virage 6.3

The Virage was memorable with a 5.3-litre V8; the conversion made it a legend

By Matt Bird / Monday, March 28, 2022 / Loading comments

It can’t have been easy to sell supercars in 1992, with the boom years of the 80s firmly in the past and financial meltdown looming. Which makes the decision of Aston’s Customer Service Decision (now Aston Works) all those years ago even more remarkable – to help the popularity of the Virage, it offered a 6.3-litre conversion. More money, more engine, more power, just as the world was starting to row back from that sort of excess. Which eventually became one of Works’ most revered creations. With the Virage 6.3 now 30 years old, the project is being revisited, with lots of lovely images. Be rude not to share…

The Virage 6.3 really was an outrageous piece of work, even by the standards of modified Astons. The Group C cars of the 1980s had evolved the familiar 5.3 V8, first to 6.0-litres and eventually to 6.3. So, obviously, it ought to go in a road car. The Virage wasn’t doing badly as standard, with 335hp and 350lb ft, but the 6.3 elevated performance onto another plane, with 500hp (at 6,000rpm!) and 480lb ft thanks to racing pistons from Cosworth, new heads and new cams, amongst other changes. The thing was a monster: 0-62mph took just 5.1 seconds, and 0-100mph 11.5 – in a two-tonne, manual car.

Works overhauled the rest of the Virage package in an attempt to contain the power, with bespoke dampers, better springs, a larger front anti-roll bar and one at the back for the first time. Brakes were the biggest in the world at that time, with 14-inch diameter front discs, and new Goodyear Eagle tyres were fitted to try and get all that performance through the rear wheels and to the road. Hand crafted aluminium flares were added to the wheelarches to accommodate the extra rubber, and a new bodykit marked the 6.3 out as more than ‘just’ a Virage. It was quite some overhaul, taking 12 weeks, and pushed the price up by £60k to £200,000; meaning a 6.3 Virage cost the equivalent of almost £450k back then.

Still, it proved popular, all things considered. This being the 1990s (and because a lot of special Virages were produced), there aren’t exact records of how many 6.3s were made; the number is believed to be around 60 over the two years they were made. Though eventually overshadowed by the twin-supercharged Vantage, the 6.3 Virages deserve recognition – how could a car that looks like this and uses a race car V8 not be admired?

Paul Spires, President of Aston Martin Works, was involved in the 6.3 project; he said: “The Virage 6.3 conversion was, and remains, a superb example of the capabilities of the department that is now Aston Martin Works… The car was comprehensively re-engineered, and restyled, right here in Newport Pagnell. It remains a true testament to the ingenuity and vision of the Aston Martin business and I’m thrilled – but also a little shocked from a personal point of view – that we are able to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2022.” Those who wish to mark the anniversary in style might be pleased to know that a 6.3 is for sale on PH, complete with a bill for £60,770.54 to have the engine work done all those years ago. It’s yours for £120k…

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