Even today, if a car maker released a new car and told us it’d have 600bhp (or 447kW to us in the metric world), we’d be getting excited.
The AMG C63 S boasts 375kW, and the Porsche 911 Turbo S 427kW. That AMG engine is even used by Aston now, and Aston’s twin-turbo V12 makes 447kW exactly in its current DB11. But the Aston Martin V8 Vantage V600 is two decades old.
While not an ‘official’ factory model, the V600s were built by Aston Martin’s Works Service division, and all started life as stock-standard V8 Vantages. Stock, they were good for 410kW, but they were weighty beasts at almost two tonnes.
After the cars had been registered, the work was carried out to transform the hardly docile V8 Vantages into uncouth V600s, some before they’d even left Aston’s then home of Newport Pagnell.
Later, Aston would ‘officially’ incorporate the setup as an option into a limited run of Vantages, known as the V8 Vantage Le Mans (pictured). Though the Le Mans was something of a run-out special to sell cars before the DB7 arrived, it was just as formidable as the V600.
As well as power, torque also followed the ‘600’ theme at 600lb/ft, or 813Nm. All of this was thanks to two M90 Eaton superchargers and upgraded cooling, which prevented the feared overheating Vantages were prone to in harsh climates.
Performance aside, badging and a chrome grille liner would also blow a V600’s cover, while the Le Mans’ nostril-style grille is more easily spotted.
Despite being one gear down, the cars’ top speeds were higher than that of the standard V8. While a Vantage V8 could ‘only’ hit 299km/h, the V600 would crack on to 322km/h. At the time, they were some of the most powerful cars in the world.
All up, 81 Vantage-converted V600s were produced, one later becoming a shooting brake, while 40 of the Le Mans edition Vantages were built.
This year, Aston Martin announced the return of the V600 badge in the form of the V12 Vantage V600. As the name would suggest, Gaydon’s 6.0-litre engine is the centrepiece, producing 441kW (or 600PS), with a seven-speed manual. Only 14 will be built, split evenly between coupe and convertible.
1998-2000 ASTON MARTIN V600/LE MANS SPECS
Engine: 5340cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-supercharged
Power: 447kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 814Nm @ 4000rpm
0-100km/h: 4.2sec (estimate)
Price: AUD$650,000 (estimate)
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