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 V600 v Aston Martin Vantage GT8 – limited-run Astons go head-to-head
Aston Martin Vantage V600 v Aston Martin Vantage GT8
Aston Martin Vantage

Aston Martin Vantage V600 v Aston Martin Vantage GT8 – limited-run Astons go head-to-head

Coming from very different approaches, the GT8 and ultra-rare V600 took Aston Martin’s previous-generation Vantage to different extremes
25 Apr 2022
Aston Martin Vantage vs Audi R8 V10 RWD – back to basics
Aston Martin Vantage vs Audi R8
Features

Aston Martin Vantage vs Audi R8 V10 RWD – back to basics

Can forgoing performance-enhancing technology such as an auto gearbox or four-wheel drive make for a more engaging car? The new manual Aston Martin Va…
7 Mar 2022
Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition 2022 review – Gaydon's answer to the Porsche 911 GT3?
Aston Martin Vantage F1 edition – slide
Aston Martin Vantage

Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition 2022 review – Gaydon's answer to the Porsche 911 GT3?

More power, more grip and more control. This new special edition is the best current-generation Vantage yet
6 Jan 2022
An Aston Martin Vantage N430 and the Old Military Road – evo Archive
Aston Martin N430 evo archive
Aston Martin Vantage

An Aston Martin Vantage N430 and the Old Military Road – evo Archive

Shooting an Aston Martin in the Scottish Highlands helped put film-maker Sam Riley on the map
28 Dec 2021

Most Popular

Prodrive P25 teased – continuation Subaru Impreza WRX STI on its way
P25 teaser
Subaru

Prodrive P25 teased – continuation Subaru Impreza WRX STI on its way

Maker of the P1 and a key facilitator of Subaru’s rally heritage, Prodrive is working on a very special new project
19 May 2022
BMW M4 Competition v Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
BMW M4 Competition v Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Coupes

BMW M4 Competition v Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

With 760bhp, the latest Shelby GT500 is Ford’s fruitiest Mustang ever, and it’s got chassis chops to match. But can it get the measure of BMW’s new M4…
21 May 2022
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe is the most expensive car in the world
Mercedes 300 SLR – side
Mercedes

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe is the most expensive car in the world

One of two 300 SLR Uhlenhauts has been sold from Merc’s own collection for £114,000,000
20 May 2022