1994 Aston Martin Virage 7.0-Litre Limited Edition Coupé Registration no. M3 AMV Chassis no. SCFCAM2SZRBR50413 Engine no. 89/50413/A
Power and torque are what Aston Martin cars have always been about, but this Virage blows even the mighty supercharged 600bhp Vantage V600 into the weeds. The big numbers are 720bhp at 4,500rpm with a drive shaft twisting 1,146lb/ft of torque at 3,000rpm. Sports Car International. This uniquely powerful Virage is one of the last nine chassis completed by the factory as special Limited Edition models in 1994 and priced at £137,000, some £3,500 more than the standard version. A special enough car to begin with you might think, but not this ones owner, who commissioned an extensive re-engineering of his Virage in pursuit of the ultimate in high performance. There was however, one unusual proviso; the car had to go, handle and stop significantly better than before, but its external appearance had to remain unaltered no added spoilers, wings or flared arches would be acceptable. Product liability issues restrict the factorys ability to undertake this sort of work nowadays, so the task was entrusted to Lynx Motors International. Famous for their faithful replicas of the C-Type and D-Type Jaguars, Lynx possesses abundant experience in the engineering of bespoke high performance motor cars, and was willing and able to undertake the work for the Virages owner, an existing customer. The project took one year to complete, with 20 percent of the time devoted to R&D. The most radical changes are to be found at the rear of the car, where the much stronger De Dion tube of the Vantage has been used in conjunction with a system of adjustable locating links. Vantage springs at the front and double-rate coils at the rear stiffen the suspension, yet Sports Car International found that ride quality had been improved over standard courtesy of the special Koni dampers. The greatly increased power that would be extracted from the engine meant that fatter rubber was essential. Flared wheelarches were out, so the problem was solved by a bespoke set of Compomotive 9x18 wheels with the extra width gained by greater offset inboard of the centre line. Shod with Pirelli P Zero tyres, these preserve the stock appearance. Although Lynx has managed to pare over 300lbs off the Virages weight, this heavy car requires a lot to stop it, so the brakes have been up-rated with Alcon racing components: huge slotted and vented discs gripped by six-pot calipers at the front, standard at the rear, modulated by Vantage ABS. Its engine had already been enlarged from 5.3 to 7.0 litres by an Aston Martin specialist before the Virage arrived at Lynx, and was producing around 500bhp. Lynx stripped the engine and installed pistons of lower compression ratio to make it suitable for conversion to forced induction, which was achieved by using a Garrett turbocharger, specially modified for the Aston engine and controlled by a Formula 1-type engine management system. Much attention was devoted to the provision of heat shielding within the engine bay, but the no body mods stipulation meant that Vantage-style bonnet vents were not permissible as a means of cooling. Instead, a system of extra water and oil radiators has been installed, with airflow managed by no fewer than six electric fans. A competition-type Nippon Denso 150-amp alternator handles the increased electrical demands. The standard transmission would have been unable to cope with the greatly increased power, so a modified GM 4-speed auto box from a Bentley Turbo has been used instead, coupled to a bespoke torque converter and controlled by its own ECU. Traction control was considered essential in a car as powerful as this one; the system used being a Formula 1-developed Race Logic with settings of Off, Full and Optimum. The traditional Connolly hide-trimmed interior remains largely unaltered apart from carbon fibre dashboard and door trim, Jaguar gearchange gate (permitting manual override) and extra gauges in the centre console. The driving experience is so different from a stock Virage that the two cars have little in common, enthused S C Is tester. In town and on the fast country roads around the Lynx HQ, we were amazed at how much smaller and lighter the modified car felt. The steering is much more substantial in feel and feedback, allowing you to place this big car accurately through bends. Turn into a corner and the chassis tracks perfectly on course, no longer prone to wallowing and being thrown off line by mid corner bumps. The ride is firm but supple at low speeds and improves as you pick up the pace.
We have driven 700bhp Porsche Turbos, and you know about it when you go full throttle in one of those. The experience of going fast in this 720bhp Virage is completely different. It conducts itself with the deportment of a gentleman. Yes, its performance is blinding, but always discreet; the only indications to the outside world of its latent power are the deep V8 bellow from its engine and the muscular burble from its huge stainless steel exhausts. Unleash all that sound and fury, even for a brief moment, and you are travelling mighty fast indeed. Aston Martins are grand touring cars in the traditional sense of the word: stylish coupés as much at home in Times Square as conveying you swiftly, comfortably and in great style from your London mansion to your yacht in Monaco. However, the well sorted Lynx car raised our eyebrows favourably on a demanding mix of road conditions. Careful development and a vast amount of experience on the part of Lynx have turned this one off into the ultimate expression of what the Aston Martin Virage could have been. It would seem that a truly amazing driving experience awaits the next owner of this most exciting motor car. Offered with Swansea V5 document.