The Aston Martin Vantage V600's twin supercharged V8 - evo Art of Speed

Aston's supercharged V8 was for a time the most powerful engine on sale

They’ll tell you the most potent Aston Martin Vantage is the new GT12. Wrong. The ‘V600’ Vantage, class of ’98, pips the fresher by 8bhp and hammers it for intimidation. The GT12 is not the lesser car – far from it (see evo 214). It’s just that the old-timer has 600bhp and 600lb ft, no aerodynamic aids to speak of and, on early cars, sod all electronic stability control software should two tons of steel, aluminium and testosterone go loco.

The two don’t stand serious comparison, of course. One is a paean to power while the other is more concerned with its effective use. But whichever their preference, petrolheads’ faces never fail to scrunch up in approval at the older car’s way of doing things.

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

The V600 project started shortly after Aston’s engineers had given us at the time the world’s most powerful production car: the 550bhp Vantage ‘V550’. Traction would evaporate during 90mph gearchanges in the dry, but still some customers weren’t sated. Thus a post-registration option package that side-stepped type approval emerged from the Works Service department, but boy would you need the readies.  The conversion cost £43,000 on top of the donor car’s £189,950.

Included were six-piston AP brakes said to dissipate enough energy during a 200mph stop to heat a pensioner’s flat for a fortnight. Hollow-spoked magnesium alloys were chosen, which meant marketing could unscrupulously deploy the term ‘lightweight’. Behind said wheels were Eibach springs and Koni adjustable dampers. The gearbox was from a Corvette ZR1, only with shortened ratios and a blanked-off sixth gear. It wouldn’t be missed: fifth gave a theoretical top speed of 221mph…

Advertisement - Article continues below

Out of context, the 5340cc quad-cam V8 could pass for a galactic dreadnought flanked by planet-destroying plasma cannons, but in situ the hand-built reality was appreciably better. About a block prepared by Callaway were two Roots-style superchargers from Eaton, a re-engineered cooling system and an extra intercooler radiator. They helped elevate Tadek Marek’s 30-year-old engine design to heights the chassis couldn’t really cope with. Nobody cared.

Regalia? Well, not especially. There was a carbonfibre engine cover, which in fairness was a pretty big deal at the time, and some lovely gold badges, and that was it. But even dormant this was an engine that radiated supremacy, espoused the industrial and hummed with a hard beauty. Was there ever a tool better suited to the job?



Aston Martin

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Concorde celebrates aviation milestones

26 Nov 2019
Aston Martin

'Hypercars at Le Mans will look magnificent, but how genuine will the racing be?'

2 Oct 2019
Aston Martin

Aston Martin Valhalla

18 Jun 2019
Aston Martin

James Bond-inspired Aston Martin DB5 continuation nears prod

14 May 2019

Most Popular


Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 hypercar revealed

A true successor to the McLaren F1, Gordon Murray Automotive has revealed more about its spectacular T.50 hypercar
10 Dec 2019

2020 McLaren Elva

No roof? No worries… The McLaren Elva will be the ultimate sun-seeking supercar
12 Dec 2019
evo Car of the Year

eCoty 2019: evo Car of the Year preview

Our annual evo Car of the Year test is coming, in print and online
13 Dec 2019
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019