1990 ASTON MARTIN Virage

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1990 ASTON MARTIN Virage

Background

The Aston Martin Virage was launched at the British Motor Show in Birmingham in 1988 to almost universal acclaim; a replacement for the William Towns’ V8 cars we all still love, it remained in production until 2000.

Essentially handbuilt, the Virage was widely expensive (£135,000 then, or the equivalent of more than £300,000 today…) and ultra-rare with a production run that barely broke four figures. Initially powered by a 32-valve 5.3-litre V8 developed in collaboration with Reeves Callaway (of twin-turbo Corvette fame). With four valves per cylinder and Weber electronic fuel injection, the Virage could streak to a top speed of 186mph.

This gave the driver 330bhp and 364 lb/ft of torque to deploy, which meant the 1,790kg car could reach 60mph in around 6.5 seconds, even in automatic guise. This three-speed ‘box was upgraded to a four-speed unit in 1993.

Enthusiastic drivers could opt for a five-speed ZF manual gearbox, something around 40% of the firm’s customers did. This enabled the aluminium-bodied coupé to streak to 60mph in 7.4 seconds. Yes, the manual might have gained driver satisfaction but it lost almost a second in the benchmark acceleration time although once it started rolling “acceleration just never seems to run out” as one contemporary road tester reported.

The convertible Virage Volante first showed its face at the 1990 Birmingham Motor Show. Then a two-seater, it became a 2+2 by the time of its appearance at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show. All production models from 1992 were 2+2s.

Two years after the unveiling of the Virage Volante, the company pushed the envelope one step further by offering its customers the option of a 6.3-litre engine.

All models were supported by de Dion tube rear suspension and double wishbones at the front, a combination that endowed the Virage with high levels of grip and hugely entertaining handling.

Not that is was perfect: while undoubtedly one of the finest gentlemen’s expresses ever built, cost-cutting by Ford saw numerous mainstream manufacturers such as Ford, GM, Jaguar, Volkswagen and Audi supply things like the lights, mirrors, and switches.

And yet, despite this, the Virage was a genuine thoroughbred. For example, those with deep pockets could even return it to Newport Pagnell to have a wider body fitted, a huge undertaking that involved modifications to the wheelarches and sills plus the installation of a bigger air dam and boot spoiler and a set of five-spoke OZ alloy wheels to better fill the new wheelarches.

Later iterations included Vantage and Vantage Le Mans options, with the power on tap eventually reaching a heady 604bhp in the latter, which dropped the 0-60mph time to under four seconds – and still in complete luxury.

The Vehicle

Our latest listing, for this 1990 Aston Martin Virage, is something of a left-field choice – but then fortune favours the bold, so shall we take a look?

First of all, the good news: mechanically recommissioned by a leading specialist at a cost of £4,888 in 2019-20, this manual coupé was in the care of its second owner – and later his wife - for a staggering 29 years. And, if that’s not enough, it had covered under 7,000 miles from new by the time it was sold in March of last year, has the rare ZF five-speed manual gearbox, and is a UK right-hand-drive car. Plus, there are only 17 left on UK roads, making it a rare car, too.

That’s a helluva lot of good news, right?

Ah, but now for the bad news: it needs considerable cosmetic fettling, partly due to its age but mainly due to water damage due to it being stored outside under a tarpaulin with the window open….

Which means that while the exterior could be tidied up the interior needs stripping out completely because it’s wrecked.

Still, if you’re still reading this then it’s highly likely that you’re one of the discerning folk, an enthusiast with an eye for a bargain and a sense of adventure.

That’s good. Now buckle in and hold tight; because you’re in for a helluva ride.

On the Outside

The bodywork is in a good condition and while the black paintwork gives the shape a muscularity and menace we love, it does unfortunately highlight every flaw.

Of course, being aluminium, the panels haven’t rusted but there is some discolouration on the bonnet along with some age-related blemishes on the front bumper, wings and door handles.

A fastidious owner will want to have the Virage completely resprayed but those with an eye for originality could drive it as it is without worry.

The glazing is all good bar the windscreen, which has a large crack in it on the offside lower corner. This will need replacing.

The original 16-inch alloy wheels are still in a good condition, and the centre cap covers are still with the car. The Avon Turbospeed CR27 tyres are age-perished and will need replacing.

It would be easy to dismiss this Virage as needing too much work but the closer you look, the better it gets. We don’t think there’s anything here that should scare you off.

No, scaring you is what the interior is for…

On the Inside

If the exterior is presentable, the interior sadly is not. The water damage we mentioned earlier has taken its toll, leaving the leather and wood veneer the worse for wear.

The least of your worries will be the mould and the discolouration on the leather. The real issue is the physical damage the water caused: some of the leather is completely perished and much of the wooden veneer is either lifting or missing. Even AMMO NYC couldn’t save this…

If it were ours, we’d budget for a complete retrim, either using new materials and a professional trimmer or, if possible, a salvaged interior from a written-off example.

The work would probably be time-consuming rather than difficult, so if you fancy starting a YouTube channel, you could start with this: “I bought the cheapest Aston Martin Virage in the world – and you’ll never guess what happened next!”

If, like most of our office, you’ve got a face for radio and don’t fancy making a career out of gurning to the world, you could strip the whole lot out, bolt in a racing seat and harness, and have the coolest track day car in Britain…

Either way, the interior looks awful but it is largely screws and nuts and bolts, so removing it all shouldn’t present too much of a challenge to strip out and assess.

Underneath

Now for the good news: After spending around nine years unused, the Chiltern Aston Centre was tasked with getting it mechanically fit again, something that ended up costing the owner almost £5,000.

That said, the work was extensive and spanned November 2019 through to June 2020: the fuel tank was refurbished the fuel tank and given a new fuel pump; the engine was fettled to get it running again; repairs were made to the to the VIC unit and headlights; a new clutch release bearing was fitted; and the brake calipers were overhauled. The result was a shiny new MOT certificate that expired in May 2021.

The engine bay is respectable. The engine still bears the name plate (thanks David Nurney, for building such a gorgeous engine)

The underside looks very good, and we are told that Chiltern Aston has said of it: “In our opinion the car’s underside condition is visually commensurate with the owner’s declared milometer reading”.

History Highlights

The Virage was in the care of the same chap from the mid-1990s until only a couple of years ago. He moved to France, taking the Virage with him but sadly died shortly thereafter. He left it to a member of his family who parked it up and threw a tarpaulin over it, presumably intending to sell it or drive it. Unfortunately, he compounded his error by leaving a window open.

The vendor, a long-time Aston Martin fan and the proud owner of a DBS Superleggera, fancied a challenge and bought the car a year ago. A new, smaller storage and restoration workshop means he’s run out of space, hence this sale.

In addition to the recommissioning work, there are some old invoices for work carried out over the years, including one from Aston Martin itself as well as another from France.

The recent RAC Vehicle History Check shows nothing of note, and while the odometer isn’t readable, we are told the mileage is around 6,500.

It has a current V5 registration document showing three previous owners, the owner’s handbook, a couple of old tax discs and two keys.

What We Think

Look, despite being a genuine right-hand-drive, manual example of one of the greatest supercars ever built (hands up who had a poster of a red one on your bedroom wall?) – and one with fewer than 7,000 miles on the clock from new - this isn’t for everyone. It needs work. Possibly quite a lot of work, but if it runs and drives and had an MoT until last year, then the complicated, expensive stuff might be behind you.

Even so, the sensible thing to do is to walk away. To buy a better one.

But then you’d be looking at spending £50,000 upwards.

Which you might not have.

But, if you’ve got £20,000 to £30,000 lying around – and have swallowed your brave pills – then this might just be the most interesting project you’ve ever taken on. With a bit of luck, you might get away with retrimming it and tidying up the bonnet for a few grand, which means you might come out with a half-price Virage and a helluva story to tell.

Tavarish does it. As does Mat Armstrong and Waldo. Hell, even Hoovie does it, albeit with a lot of help from the Car Wizard.

If you’ve no idea who or what I’m talking about then this isn’t the car for you. But if you do, well, this might just be the greatest decision you’ll ever make…

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions.’

Bidders MUST ensure they are aware of the registration situation of a car in auction, and whether it will be possible to export/register a vehicle in their country BEFORE they bid.

All vehicles MUST BE COLLECTED WITHIN 7-DAYS of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per week) thereafter without exception.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage can offer you options, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping both domestic and international.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we always encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using basic cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

superjuiced

  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 6500
  • Chassis Number: SCBOAM15XLBR50071
  • Engine: 5.3
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Steering position: Right-hand drive
  • Colour: Black
  • Interior: Mushroom Leather
  • Estimated Price: £20,000 - £30,000

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