Aston Martin’s announcement that its outgoing Vantage is being sent off in style with the V600 edition could mark the last time we see the purist’s trinity of hydraulic steering, a manual gearbox and a 12-cylinder naturally aspirated engine together in one vehicle. Only 14 examples of this analogue stunner will ever be built, and the shape doesn’t seem to have garnered a wrinkle since Henrik Fisker’s concept was first unveiled at the 2003 Detroit Show. Fifteen years on, it’s still a stunner. Does it rank amongst the very best final editions though? We reckon it’ll have some stiff competition from five of our very favourite farewell models.
1. Ford Falcon Sprint (2016)
Argue all you want over whether the XR6 or the XR8 version of the Sprint was the better of the two, but there’s not any great debate on the fact that both of ‘em had the ability to plaster a huge smile on your dial. Never the last word in roadholding or handling delicacy, the Sprints instead brought out the hooligan in you. Prices haven’t stepped up quite as smartly as some speculators had hoped (we found XR6s from $48K and XR8s from $55K), but that’s still cheap motoring for two years in a great car. The 1400-car run of the 345kW XR8 and 325kW XR6 Sprint versions might still come good for those with delivery mileage examples in their garages, but for most of us, the lure of immolating a few rear tyres is a siren call that we wouldn’t be able to resist.
2. Dodge Viper ACR (2016)
The Dodge Viper didn’t just blink out, it went supernova with the 481kW ACR version of the VX I Viper. As if an 8.4-litre V10 engine wasn’t extreme enough, some customers went a step further and ordered it with the ACR Extreme Aero Package, the same option pack that helped the ACR claim 14 production car lap records including the one that matters; the Nurburgring Nordschleife. Upon launch, this pack gave the ACR up to 800kgs of downforce – then the most of any production vehicle. The thing we love that most is that when the Viper eventually relinquished the record to the Huracan Performante, Dodge went so banzai to reclaim it that they wrecked a car at the Ring. That’s commitment.
3. Nismo R34 GT-R Z-Tune (2003)
A Bayside Blue Nissan Skyline GT-R was always one of the poster cars for the Gran Turismo generation and when the R34 was winding down its production run – and, indeed, saying goodbye to the Skyline badge for the GT-R line – Nissan’s go-faster division, Nismo, decided to give the old girl one heck of a send-off. The Z-Tune wasn’t a production car in the normal sense of the term. Nismo acquired lightly used R34 GT-Rs, bored and strengthened the engine, upgraded the turbochargers, seam welded and then sold 19 of these 500kW 2.8-litre monsters, all but one in special Z-tune Silver. Nowadays we wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the 19 hit A$1m at auction.
4. Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce (2009)
The Murcielago SV was not only a great driver’s car, but it was also the last of the line for a V12 that could be traced all the way back to Ferruccio Lamborghini’s commission to engine builder Giotto Bizzarrini back in 1963. In its first iteration, the sixty-degree V12 displaced 3465cc and made 276kW, Lamborghini furious that Bizzarrini had built him a race engine rather than a road car unit. In its final iteration in the Murcielago SV, it had nearly doubled in capacity to 6498cc, with power stepping up to 493kW. Along the way it got four valves per cylinder, dry sump lubrication and electronic fuel injection before being replaced by the L539 engine in the Aventador. The Aventador was a big step forwards for Lamborghini, but a little of Sant’Agata’s soul slipped away when the last Murci SV ran down the line.
5. HSV GTS-R W1 (2017)
This might just be our favourite of the lot. How could we overlook the crazy HSV GTS-R W1, a car that showed the world everything that an Aussie muscle car could be? The final fling for the home-built hot VFII generation Commodore body, the 474kW supercharged LS9 was an absolute riot, loud, menacing and it could be a proper handful when the track-focused SupaShock suspension would inevitably run out of travel on bumpy rural roads. It was never boring though, and it asked questions of good drivers. Best of all, it had the grunt to give the European blue-bloods a good larruping and make them look a bit two-dimensional in the process. We’ll never see its like again.
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