Vantage Le Mans

Vantage Le Mans Description

Unveiled: March 1999

In production: February 1999, June 1999 - December 2000

Chassis numbers: 70229, 70241 - 70279

In March 1999, AML unveiled the first of a short run of 40 very exclusive supercharged Vantages at the Geneva Motor Show alongside the race winning DBR1/2, the new DB7 Vantage saloon and a V8 Volante LWB. The Vantage Le Mans, finished appropriately in Almond Green, was to be built in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 1959 victory of the DBR1 at Le Mans. The famous 24 Hour race held each year mostly on closed public roads to the south of the town in North West France in a region known as La Sarthe.

The coachwork of the limited edition was significantly enhanced and distinguished from the regular Vantage: this final fling of the V8 line would not just be a ‘paint and trim’ special. The V600 front spoiler was fitted with a duct for the oil cooler and a new panel fitted over the radiator opening with two mesh-covered elliptical openings on either side. This feature, which in a way copied the Cibie driving lights within the blackened grille of the 1977 V8 Vantage was actually seen but not used in the initial sketches of the Vantage way back in 1992. The bonnet had developed deep vents to assist with cooling and the side vents were reshaped to recall the side vents in the DBR1. The rear apron also received new treatment with the reversing and high intensity lights built in. The lockable covers over the fuel caps were re-designed to look like pressure fuel valves. To complete the exterior makeover, 5-spoke magnesium alloy hollow spoke wheels from Dymag were fitted. These wheels differed slightly from those on the V600 conversion as the wheel nuts were hidden behind a cover.

The interior also received the sporting treatment with perforated pedal pads, an aluminum gear lever knob and metal panels with a brushed finish, replaced the traditional wood veneers. The instruments also reflected a sporting theme with a large magnolia tachometer and smaller speedometer dials with a red starter button mounted alongside. On most but not all examples, the seats had an Alcantara centre panel rather than full Connolly hide. The Wilton carpets included the Aston Martin winged emblem. Each car was fitted with numbered sill plates recording the name of the first owner. The edition numbers bore no relation to the chassis number.

The Vantage Le Mans was built with the Driving Dynamics modifications to suspension and brakes as standard but retained the regular 550bhp supercharged engine. That said, many engines were immediately modified at Works Service to V600 spec. By 2011, all but a tiny number of the Le Mans had returned to Works Service to receive the full 600bhp engine upgrade.

Production of the Le Mans was limited to only 40 examples as appropriate for the 40th anniversary, 18 RHD for the UK, Eire and Australia and 22 LHD for Europe and the Middle East. As with the regular Vantage, no cars were sold in North America, although they have since found their way over the Atlantic thanks to the limited mileage ‘show and display' rules. All were built with the six-speed manual transmission although many were modified to 5-speed at the time of engine conversion to V600 spec. Three are now known to have been changed to automatic transmission, one of these with paddle shift. In line with the first example, 24 cars were finished in shades of green, AM Racing Green being the most common. Six were finished in blue and 5 were black.

The Vantage Le Mans was never road tested by any magazines in period although examples have subsequently been driven for many classic car magazines.

Vantage Le Mans Specification

Body / Coachwork
Two door 2+2 coupe
Steel platform chassis with handcrafted aluminium alloy body panels
Unique grille panel, side wing vents and hot air extraction vents in bonnet
Side impact protection in the doors
Front airdam, bumpers and side sills in GRP
Twin race style flush fitting fuel fillers
Venturi' style rear under panel with large bore oval exhaust tail pipes
Interior
Full Connolly leather interior with Alcantara seat and door centre panels and detailing. Optional full leather
Metallic veneer set to facia, console and door trims
Alcantara or optional leather headlining, leather trimmed Wilton carpets
Electrically operated and heated front Recaro seats
CFC free automatic climate control system with replaceable pollen filters
Two tone leather steering wheel with driver airbag
Magnolia faced instruments including extra large tachometer
Polished aluminium gear knob and drilled aluminium pedal set. Remote starter button
Alpine radio cassette or radio CD four-speaker audio system
Optional boot mounted six-disc Alpine CD autochanger
Remote alarm and engine immobiliser
Heated front and rear screens
Engine
Front mounted all-alloy 90° V8, 5,340 cc; four-valves-per-cylinder, twin overhead camshafts per bank. Engine number 590/R/*****/M LM
Twin Eaton (Roots type) M90 supercharger units with air to liquid intercoolers driven by poly V belts. Max boost 10 psi
Bore 100 mm. Stroke 85 mm. Compression ratio 8.2:1
Sequential Bosch injection system and distributor-less ignition system controlled by a Ford EEC IV engine management unit
Improved response throttle progression
Exhaust emissions controlled by two, three-way, catalysts with Lambda sensors
Maximum power: 550 bhp at 6,500 rpm
Maximum torque: 550 lb.ft at 4,000 rpm
Steering
Power assisted rack and pinion, 2.45 turns lock to lock.
Column tilt adjustment
Wheels and Tyres
Dymag five-spoke magnesium alloy hollow spoke ultra lightweight, 10J x 18" wheels
Goodyear Eagle GS-D 285/45 ZR18 tyres
No spare wheel fitted but tyre inflation aerosols supplied
Suspension
Front: independent double wishbone, co-axial Koni spring damper units, Eibach springs with uprated anti-roll bar
Rear: steel tube de Dion unit located fore and aft by longitudinal radius arms and transverse Watts linkage with Koni co-axial spring damper units with auxiliary Eibach secondary springs and uprated anti roll-bar
Brakes
Front: circumferential grooved ventilated steel discs. 362 mm diameter with AP Racing six piston aluminium calipers
Rear: outboard circumferential grooved ventilated steel discs. 310 mm diameter with AP Racing four piston aluminium calipers. Independent handbrake calipers
Vacuum servo-assisted tandem master cylinder with Bosch four channel anti-lock braking system
Dimensions
Length: 4,745 mm
Width: 1,944 mm
Height: 1,320 mm
Kerb weight: 1,990 kg
Wheelbase: 2,611 mm
Front track: 1,548 mm
Rear track: 1,586 mm
Boot volume: 320 litres
Fuel tank capacity: 105 litres
Performance
Maximum speed: over 186 mph (over 200 mph for V600)
Acceleration: 0-60 mph 4.6 seconds (3.9 for V600)
Acceleration: 0-100 mph 10.1 seconds
Price
March 1999: £210,350 plus extra for optional V600 engine upgrade

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