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    There are any number of factors that are making it increasingly difficult for a small-scale, independent automaker like Aston Martin to stay competitive in today's automotive marketplace, from purchasing power to R&D capacity. But the latest factor endangering Aston's viability on the marketplace seems to be coming down to tighter government safety standards.

    Three weeks, ago Businessweek reported that Investment Dar, Inc. was looking to shed its majority stake in Aston Martin. The Kuwait-based financial firm is apparently seeking to restructure its debt load and has sought $800 million for its 64-percent share in the English automaker. That amount compares to the $925 million that it took for a consortium, Investment Dar among them, to purchase 100-percent of Aston Martin from Ford in 2007.

    As had been speculated, the brief run of the Aston Martin Virage is over with the arrival of the 2013 Aston Martin DB9, shown above. You'll recall that the Virage was introduced as a bridge between the previous DB9 and the now-defunct DBS.

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