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

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

Aston Martin Vantage V600

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.

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.

> New 2018 Aston Martin Vantage review - Vantage leaves an impressive first impression

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…

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?

Recommended

Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition revealed – new Coupe and Roadster derivitives
Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition roadster
Aston Martin Vantage

Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition revealed – new Coupe and Roadster derivitives

Aston Martin has finally revealed a sharper and more focused version of its Vantage with some F1 inspiration thrown in
22 Mar 2021
Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R multifunction display – Art of Speed
Nissan R34 GT-R display
Nissan GT-R

Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R multifunction display – Art of Speed

The R34 GT-R came with Nissan’s interpretation of a games console crowning the dashboard. A gimmick? Big time, but entertaining all the same
4 May 2021
Ford Racing Puma bodykit – Art of Speed
Ford Racing Puma
Ford Racing Puma

Ford Racing Puma bodykit – Art of Speed

The Ford Racing Puma's bodykit is an iconic piece of automotive design, but there's more to it than meets the eye
20 Apr 2021

Most Popular

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn
MAT Stratos – front tracking
Lancia

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn

It’s been a long time coming, but this Ferrari F430-based reimagining of the Lancia Stratos is finally here
11 Jun 2021
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition – slide
Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act

Immense performance from about the coolest modern muscle car out there. It’s expensive, but there’s nothing else quite like it
12 Jun 2021
BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance
BMW M5 CS – front cornering
BMW M5 saloon

BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance

Nonsensical on paper, but sublime in practice. Never has a modern supersaloon been more tactile or more engaging
14 Jun 2021
Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers
Tesla Model S Plaid
Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers

The long-awaited Tesla Model S Plaid has finally come to fruition, with first US examples hitting the road
11 Jun 2021
2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?
Audi RS3 manufacturer spy 1
Audi RS3

2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?

Audi Sport is putting the final touches on its new RS3 hot hatch and saloon
10 Jun 2021
2021 Maserati GranTurismo to go EV-only – IC option ditched
2021 Maserati GranTurismo spy – track
Maserati

2021 Maserati GranTurismo to go EV-only – IC option ditched

GranTurismo coupe and its soft-top GranCabrio sibling to be reborn later this year, but controversially without the proposed combustion alternative...…
11 Jun 2021
Posaidon’s 217mph Mercedes-AMG E63 RS is faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder
Posaidon Mercedes-AMG E63
Mercedes E63 AMG

Posaidon’s 217mph Mercedes-AMG E63 RS is faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder

Three new Posaidon power upgrades are now available for Mercedes-AMG’s E63 S, bringing hypercar numbers to the four door supersaloon
9 Jun 2021
Used car deals of the week
Used car deals 11 June 21
used cars

Used car deals of the week

Here's what caught evo’s fancy this week on the second hand car market
11 Jun 2021
Updated in-line six Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door revealed – hybrid V8s still to come
Mercedes-AMG GT53 MY22 – front tracking
Mercedes

Updated in-line six Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door revealed – hybrid V8s still to come

GT43 and GT53 4-Doors receive a refresh while we await the arrival of the V8 hybrid GT73
14 Jun 2021
Best small cars 2021 – pocket rockets reviewed and rated
Best small cars 2021
Best cars

Best small cars 2021 – pocket rockets reviewed and rated

You don’t need 200bhp or more in a small hatchback to have fun – these ‘warm’ small cars are the proof
7 Jun 2021
Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement mule spied – will it emulate the McLaren Artura?
Ferrari F171 spy 2021 – front
Ferrari

Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement mule spied – will it emulate the McLaren Artura?

Ferrari’s going hybrid and V6 for its next mid-engined supercar
9 Jun 2021
HKS in development of a supercharger kit for new 2021 Toyota GR 86
HKS Toyota GR 86
Toyota

HKS in development of a supercharger kit for new 2021 Toyota GR 86

Japanese tuner HKS is in development of a supercharger upgrade package for the new GR 86
9 Jun 2021
BMW announces entry into LMDh class from 2023 – to fight Audi, Porsche and other big names
BMW Le Mans header
BMW

BMW announces entry into LMDh class from 2023 – to fight Audi, Porsche and other big names

The 2023 LMDh class is shaping up to be a big one, with BMW getting back in on the action with its own racer, but only in the USA
11 Jun 2021
Can the Renault Clio Trophy beat a modern supersaloon for daily transport?
Jethro opinion header
Opinion

Can the Renault Clio Trophy beat a modern supersaloon for daily transport?

The boot struts have gone saggy and the hatch slams onto my head three times a week, but the Clio Trophy is hard to resist
8 Jun 2021