Aston Martin Virage

Aston Martin Virage by Chris Nixon. 160 pp. 10%" x 14". Osprey Publishing Limited, 59 Grosvenor Street, London, W1X 9DA. £80.00

There are two ways that Chris Nixon's Aston Martin Virage book can be looked at: on the one hand it is a punctilious account of the conception, development and birth of Aston Martin's new model, or else it is a glorified sales brochure which costs the customer a bomb.

If this was almost any other author one would reach the conclusion that this book falls into the latter category, but as it is written by that respected historian Chris Nixon, it is a different ball game.

There are passages that do come across as if the author is writing to please a member of the company who was peering over his shoulder as he tapped it out, but they are few and far between. What we have is a beautifully presented book, with stunning photographs by Richard Newton, illustrating the Virage to the minutest detail.

Labelled Design Project 2034, the Virage had the usual troubles of a new model, but compounded by the fact that Aston Martin is such a small manufacturer. Naturally the takeover by Ford is included and it is quite illuminating to see just how that came to be and how the relationship has continued since.

Some photographs from the archives are reproduced to make points, the only disappointment being on page 39 when 63PH, one of the DB4 Zagatos, is reproduced to illustrate the stunning design. Instead of being able to appreciate the car's beauty, the picture has been enlarged too much so that the top of the car down to the windscreen has been chopped off and the front three quarter view up to the sidelight likewise. Perhaps it was felt to be too good looking when compared to the Virage? A minor gripe in what is a comprehensive book on what is becomingly increasingly unique in today's motor industry — the development of a bespoke motor car. WPK