After almost 20 years in production, Aston Martin’s V8 had been updated for the 1990s as the Virage. A consummate fast tourer, the Virage left room at the top of the range for an out-and-out sports car, hence the Vantage. Although the two models appear superficially similar, few panels are shared, while beneath the skin the Vantage chassis boasts the kind of extensive re-engineering required to cope with the massive increase in performance. The latter comes courtesy of a blown version of Aston’s 5,340cc V8 – twin mechanically driven Eaton superchargers being preferred to turbo-charging on the grounds of superior throttle response. Quite apart from its stupendous maximum output of 550bhp, remarkable enough in itself, the engine is monstrously torquey, producing 550lb/ft at 4,000rpm, a figure that made even the mighty the Chrysler Viper V10’s 450lb/ft seem puny by way of comparison. And for those who found 550bhp insufficient, there was the Works Service-developed ‘V600’ enhancement that brought with it an additional 50 horsepower together with upgrades to the wheels, suspension, and brakes. Announced at the British Motor Show at the NEC, Birmingham in 1998, the V600 package added £43,000 to the price of the standard Vantage.
In March 1999, Aston Martin announced that 40 special versions of the Vantage – the Vantage Le Mans – would be built to celebrate the factory’s famous victory at the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 1959 when Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby took the chequered flag first in ‘DBR1/2’.
The basis of what was at that time the fastest Aston Martin ever was the standard Vantage, and the Le Mans version could be ordered with either the stock 550bhp or enhanced 600bhp engines. Although at a glance outwardly similar to the latter, the Le Mans could be distinguished by its front wing side vents – recalling those of the DBR1 racer – ducted bonnet, ‘nostril’ front grille and improved high-downforce air dam, while at the rear the spoiler was revised to incorporate the high-intensity and reversing lights. The Le Mans received unique five-spoke magnesium alloy wheels while beneath the skin its chassis boasted the kind of extensive upgrading, in the form of the ‘Driving Dynamics’ package, required to cope with the massive increase in performance that the Vantage gained over its Virage progenitor.
On the road, its potential performance was equally staggering: 0-100km/h (62mph) being achievable in 3.9 seconds while a top speed in excess of 320km/h (200mph) was possible. The Le Mans interior too was specially reconfigured in the sporting idiom, boasting perforated competition-style pedals, an oversize tachometer, aluminium gear lever knob, ‘button’ starter, and brushed metal panelling instead of the traditional wood veneers, while the Wilton carpeting featured embossed ‘Aston Martin’ emblems.
Finished in Aston Martin Racing Green with Charcoal and Alcantara hide interior
Limited edition of only 40 cars
This particular Le Mans Edition is number 12
Outstanding condition in every respect
Bona Fide collectors car