An Aston Martin Track Car From Before Aston Martin Track Cars Were Cool
Is this not the most weirdly alluring Aston Martin track car you’ve ever seen?
Before you storm down to my house with pitchforks in hand, shouting, “Michael, if you don’t think the 15/98 Speed Model is a track car, we’re going to skewer you!” please read a few more sentences. It’s not that earlier Aston Martins aren’t cool, only that by the time the V8 Vantage and its derivatives had hit the market, the marque itself was far removed from its former world-beating glory. In 1988, the best the company could offer was the V8 Vantage-replacing, 330 horsepower, 5.3-litre V8-powered Virage. It was hand-built, quick, and luxurious, but with a top speed of “only” about 150 mph, for some potential buyers it just wasn’t enough. Well, for one potential buyer, it wasn’t enough.
This Virage left the factory with a larger 6.3-litre V8 engine (but was later converted back to the original 5.3) with a single goal in mind: how to turn this British barge into a canyon carver. After taking delivery of this car, an Aston Martin distributor in Germany had the factory’s blessing to upgrade it in preparation for a series Virage Lightweight model. That it was able to shed more than 550 lbs. without putting swiss cheese holes in the bodywork is astounding, more so when you realize what wasn’t removed: its quilted leather and Alcantara interior and stereo.
Somehow, the finished car was more sparse than a modern-day Porsche track special and still weighed more than 3,600 lbs. Its creators didn’t know it at the time, but the Virage GT Lightweight would remain one-of-a-kind. It’s not rare, it’s unique.
As far as its prowess as a driver’s car, however, that isn’t in question. Once behind the wheel, there’s little to do but drive. Here, engineers in period went from nose to tail and replaced everything that wouldn’t make the driving experience better; it sports a fully revised suspension by Harvey Bailey Engineering, sport exhaust, lighter axles, sport seats, and three-point harnesses. You may have also noticed its unique mirrors, subtly revised bodywork, and later-specification alloy wheels, too.
When the car was being constructed, RM Sotheby’s says the tally for all of these go-fast parts was an eye-watering 500,000 Deutsche Marks. Customers that wanted a Lightweight of their own would be on the hook for few hundred thousand dollars extra, plus the cost of the Virage. It’s not an inexpensive Aston Martin (and probably never will be), but if you’re an enthusiast who lives for spirited drives and doesn’t want the average motorist to know what you’re driving, this unicorn Lightweight Virage GT should fit the bill perfectly. Offered without a reserve, we’d definitely be driving it home after it’s sold in Monaco.
~330 horsepower, 5,340-cc V-8 engine with Callaway heads and Weber fuel injection, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent Harvey Bailey sports suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,610 mm
Chassis no. SCFCAM1S0MBL50158
Engine no. 89/50158/M