Who needs an SUV when you can be a true sportsman in this 1996 Aston Martin? Aptly named, the V8 Sportsman Estate was one of just three examples built by Aston Martin, and it’s heading to auction next month as part of the Bonham’s Aston Martin Sale.
So what is it, exactly? The bespoke creation was commissioned by two Swiss brothers in 1996 looking to add an inkling of usability to the typically sporty nature synonymous with Aston Martin products. It uses the V8 Coupe as its base, and borrows the same 330-horsepower (246-kilowatt) V8 good for a top speed of 160 miles per hour (257 kilometers per hour), and a 0 to 60 mph (96 kmh) sprint of less than seven seconds. It wears the chassis number SCFCAM2SCTBL79007, and originally left the factory as a stock V8 Coupe before being returned to the factory and modified.
It’s a rare left-hand drive, automatic, and left the factory in July of 1996. The car been maintained meticulously by the Aston Martin Works department since then, assuring this rare piece of motoring remains in pristine condition, now going on more than 20 years. Inside, the green leather interior matches the British Racing Green found on the body, and comes with a smattering of walnut detailing throughout.
In 1999, the engine was rebuilt completely by the factory, having driven just 5,755 miles (9,263 kilometers). It was then sold to its second owner, a French art collector named Fedoroff, who registered the car in Monaco. Following the artists death, the car was sold at auction in 2014, and will now cross the block again on May 13, 2017.
The car has driven just over 13,048 miles (21,000 kilometers) since new, and for the last few years has been part of a private collection of Aston Martins. The car was last serviced in February, and shows so signs of wear or damage, having been maintained extensively throughout its lifetime. It comes complete with service records, handbooks, and plenty of personality. Estimates suggest it could go for anywhere from $380,000 to $450,000 (£300,000 - 350,000).
Gallery: 1996 Aston Martin V8 Sportsman Estate
The car offered here is one of a pair ordered from the factory by two Swiss brothers in 1996, the other being '79008'. Finished in British racing Green with matching interior trim, the brothers' cars were both left-hand drive and had stepped taillights, while the third of the three Sportsman conversions completed had inline taillights.
There had been 'estate' or 'shooting brake' conversions of Aston Martins in the past, most notably the seven DB6s built by coachbuilder Harold Radford and the three Virages converted at the factory in the early 1990s. This car however, is based on the Virage's successor: the V8 Coupé.
Launched at the International Motor Show, Birmingham in October 1988, the Virage had restated its Aston Martin V8 forerunner's brawny looks in the modern idiom, contriving to be slightly narrower yet providing increased interior space. The car was still no lightweight, but with 330bhp on tap courtesy of the trusty V8 engine's new 32-valve top end, was good enough for a top speed approaching 160mph and a 0-60mph time of under seven seconds.
'We wanted a car that was a new form. Fresh, exciting, purposeful but unquestionably Aston Martin,' explained Aston Martin Chairman and Chief Executive Victor Gauntlett on the announcement of the Virage, while stressing: 'It was important that, although new in virtually every way, the Virage was of evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, design. It has to be a car that could stand in line with every post-war Aston Martin and be the self-evident successor to that tradition.'
After spearheading the Aston Martin V8's transformation for the 1990s, the Virage name was dropped during 1994, its place as the 'standard' model being taken by a Vantage-style V8 Coupé. Introduced at the Geneva Salon in March 1996, the new V8 Coupé adopted all of the Vantage's muscular styling cues but retained the Virage's normally aspirated, 5.3-litre engine, which nevertheless had been extensively reworked and produced an extra 20 horsepower. The model formed part of the Aston Martin range for just three years and is one of the rarer members of the modern V8 family.
Both Sportsman estate cars left the factory as standard left-hand drive V8 Coupés in July 1996, were homologated and then returned to the factory to be modified as shooting brakes, the result looking much like the earlier Virage conversion but with the Coupé's obvious styling differences. The work was carried out by Aston Martin between September 1996 and December 1997. This car's colour scheme is British Racing Green with matching upholstery and carpets to the interior, which also features plentiful walnut embellishment.
In 1999 this example's engine was rebuilt by the factory at 9,263 kilometres (see accompanying correspondence) and then the car was sold to the immediately preceding (second) owner, a French art collector by the name of Fedoroff who registered it in Monaco. Following his death a few years ago, the Sportsman was sold at an auction in Paris in 2014.
Subsequently upgraded with a satellite navigation system, '79007' has covered a little over of 21,000 kilometres from new and for the last few years has formed part of a significant private collection of Aston Martins. Only some 1,300 kilometres have been covered in the last seven years.
Maintained regardless of cost by Aston Martin Works during the present ownership, this matching-numbers Sportsman benefits from extensive refurbishment carried out at Newport Pagnell over the last 2-3 years and is presented in wonderful visual and mechanical condition. A very clean car, showing no signs of corrosion or accident damage, it was fully serviced and valeted by AMW in February 2017.
The car comes complete with owner's manual, service book, all tools, jack, first aid kit, battery conditioner, fitted car cover and, most importantly, a fitted humidor! EU registered, the accompanying history file contains sundry bills, a quantity of expired MoT certificates, various magazines, etc and AMW's 14-page appraisal report.
A wonderful opportunity to acquire an extremely rare, limited edition Aston Martin combining practicality and high performance in equal measure. Exclusivity at its very pinnacle!