We’re used to graceful, stylish, classy Aston Martins. From 007's DB5 and his later V12 GTs to the forthcoming Valhalla supercar, the brand has been known to provide power with a lot of panache. But for a while in the ‘90s that formula was inverted. Lots of power, hardly any panache. The 1995 Vantage V550 embodied that philosophy entirely.
Forget gracefully showing up to dinner at a three-Michelin-star restaurant in one of these. With a massive supercharged V8 under the hood and a collage of parts from around the ca industry festooning the Vantage inside and out, this car is more like a project cooked up in a garage during a night of binge drinking than a well-appointed luxury machine. But while it might not be everyone’s idea of a proper Aston Martin (emphasis on proper), it’s still a wild machine worth a few minutes of your attention.
That “V550" bit at the end of this car’s name refers to the 550-horsepower 5.3-liter twin-supercharged V8 that sits under the aluminum body of this thing. Though that big motor might seem like the only thing that separates the Vantage from its sibling, the Virage, this car actually had nearly totally revised sheet metal. But you’d never be able to tell. Seriously, they look nearly identical.
But while they could rehash the bodywork, Aston Martin wasn’t in a position to craft interior appointments, leading the manufacturer to plumb the depths of new owner Ford’s parts bag. You might recognize the steering wheel in this from a contemporary F-150, for example.
Though most cars got a five-speed manual, there were of course buyers who demanded an Auto. The automatic transmission those buyers got was also hardly bespoke. It was a good ol’ Chrysler Torqueflite three-speed. In a 550-horsepower supercar. Nice.
If you want to know a little more about what makes the Vantage so great and also so goddamn horrible, our man Raphael once rounded up all the special editions Aston put together to keep its clientele interested in the Virage and Vantage while it underwent its pre-DB9 rebuilding period. It’s worth a read.
As for this particular car? It’s awful rare among a model line that was already incredibly limited in terms of numbers built. One of 233 Vantage. V550s as well as one of fewer than 100 units built in left-hand-drive. Painted in a bespoke Roll Royce Royal Blue, the car looks spectacular, even if its near-perfect condition does let the raw shittiness of the parts-bin appointments shine through better than ever. That’s exactly what the gawking crowds at Radwood want to see anyway.
The odometer here reads 18,400 with those miles put on the car by owners in Germany and Japan before it came to the states. The car is for sale at Copley Motorcars in Needham, Massachusetts (a shop I used to drive by in high school to get glimpses of custom-built Defenders, Mercedes W1114s, and the odd mid-century Ferrari). Copley, who has been known to move some pretty spectacular cars, has the car listed at a wild $325,000.
That’s not nothing for a car that pretty clearly isn’t built well out of mediocre parts and likely won’t be that much fun to drive either. But it’s damn rare and it’s rad as hell so I’m sure they’ll shift it. Eventually, what with that Torqueflite and all.