V8 Vantage Volante
V8 Vantage Volante

V8 Vantage Volante

(1986 - 1989)

By the mid '80's it was common knowledge that the V8 was on borrowed time after a production run approaching 20 years. This was a car with roots right back to the 1958 DB4; the Virage, the first new AM for 20 years was still a couple of years away from sale. The V8 Volante was selling well and was a particularly successful car in the USA. Possibly six cars were made by special arrangement by the factory with Vantage spec engines but these were very much the exception, the Volante was still the ultimate cruiser.

V8 Vantage Volante

The true V8 Vantage Volante, first shown at the 1986 Birmingham Motor Show (see below), was distinctly more than Volante with powerful Vantage spec engine. The powerful convertible was visually distinguished by a huge front air dam, extra wide wheel arches, massively flared sills and a smart flip tail. The styling was unique to the Vantage Volante and was not generally made available on the closed Vantage although a few modified example exist.

As well as dark blue, the colour combination of Suffolk Red with magnolia piped red was popular on the V8 in the late ’80’s. AM cognoscenti now refer to such cars as ‘Lipstick Specials’ and are often found keenly priced by dealers. Twenty five years later, it is extremely rare to see such a bold colour on a new AM.

With a maximum speed in excess of 160 mph, these were the fastest four seater convertible cars of their time. Indeed even a mid 90’s Virage Volante couldn’t keep up with one of these – although a 6.3 Volante would come close. The Cumberland Grey car below is, believe it or not, approaching 160mph on the runway at RAF Cottesmore during an AMOC meeting in 2007.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante in Cumberland Grey

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante in Cumberland Grey

Below is I think my only photograph that shows a standard V8 Vantage Volante in the company of a PoW specification Vantage Volante. Essentially the same car but so different in attitude.

A much coveted car in it’s day (it was the late 1980’s after all), yet during much of the 1990’s the Vantage Volante was seen by some as somewhat overt and lacking in good taste. Certainly the excess of bodywork add-ons weren’t really necessary for aerodynamic performance but did lend the car real road presence. Twenty years on and there is something of a 1980’s renascence, the V8 Vantage Volante is coming back into vogue with prices edging upwards towards £100,000 again. During a production run of just 3 years, a total of just 167 examples of the V8 Vantage Volante were built. Of the 167 cars, 58 left hand drive examples were exported (principally to the USA) with the less powerful Weber Marelli Fuel Injected engine (see the next page). In the late 1980’s, is was perhaps Aston’s most popular model even though the price had jumped to an enormous £135,000 in 1989.

So this leaves a total of 109 true V8 Vantage Volantes with the full ‘580X-pack’ 400+ bhp engine of which 30 are automatics and 79 manuals. 33 of these cars were left hand drive (principally for the European market) and 76 with right hand drive for the UK market.

One of my all time favourite Astons………….

  • Body/Coachwork:
    • 2 door, 2+2 convertible
    • Steel platform chassis with handcrafted aluminium alloy body panels
    • Dual 7” quartz-halogen headlamps with 7″ Cibie driving lights
    • Blanked grille, wheelarch extensions, widened sills and integrated flip-tail. Mesh grille optional or standard in hot climates
    • Power-operated, fully lined Everflex hood, optional mohair. Later examples with heated glass rear screen
  • Interior:
    • Full Connolly leather interior with fabric roof lining
    • Air-conditioning system
    • Adjustable seats with tilting squabs to allow access to the rear seats
    • Walnut facia and cappings
    • Wool pile carpets
    • Blaupunkt Toronto SQR46 or 48 stereo radio cassette, 4 speakers and electric aerial
  • Engine:
    • Front mounted all-alloy 90° V8, 5,340 cc, two-valves-per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts per bank.
    • Engine number prefix V580/, suffix /X Bore 100 mm. Stroke 85 mm. Compression ratio 10.2 : 1
    • Four Weber 48 IDF3/150 downdraught carburettors.
    • Fuel supplied by electric twin SU single unit
    • Maximum power: 410 bhp @ 6,000 rpm, (432 bhp @ 6,250 rpm with 50mm chokes, big bore airbox and exhausts)
    • Maximum torque: 395 lb.ft @ 5,100 rpm
    • Ignition System: Lucas 35 DLM8 electronic Air Injection System: Twin AC Delco air pumps
    • Cosmetic Vantage Volante built with Emision Control V585/LFM or LFA spec engines
  • Transmission:
    • 5 speed ZF manual gearbox.
    • Hydraulically operated 10½” Borg and Beck single dry-plate diaphragm clutch
    • Chrysler Torqueflite 3 speed automatic optional
    • Final drive: Salisbury hypoid bevel with Powr-Lok limited slip differential. Final drive ratio: 3.54 : 1 (manual and NA), 3.058 : 1 (automatic)
  • Steering:
    • Power assisted Adwest rack and pinion 2.9 turns lock to lock. Turning circle 11.58 metres
  • Wheels and tyres:
    • Bolt-on, 5 stud 16 x 8J light alloy wheels. Initially Compomotive, MSW, OZ Ceres and lastly Ronal
    • Goodyear Eagle 255/50VR 16 tyres
    • Avon CR27 255/60 16 inch tyres (US cosmetic Vantage Volante with optional ‘comfort pack’)
    • Space saver spare wheel T115/85R18 on most later cars
  • Suspension:
    • Front: Independent, featuring unequal transverse wishbones, coil springs and co-axial telescopic shock absorbers with an anti-roll bar
    • Rear: De-Dion tube, Watts linkage and trailing links incorporating Koni co-axial spring shock absorber units
  • Brakes:
    • Front: Ventilated steel discs, 267mm (10.51″) diameter
    • Rear: Ventilated steel discs, 264mm (10.39″) diameter mounted inboard
    • Tandem master cylinders and dual vacuum servo assistance
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 4,670 mm, 4,780 mm with 5 mph impact bumpers
    • Width: 1,892 mm
    • Height: 1,370 mm
    • Wheelbase: 2,610 mm
    • Front track: 1,554 mm
    • Rear track: 1,586 mm
    • Fuel tank capacity: 104.6 litres
    • Kerb Weight: 1,818 kg (1,860 kg Cosmetic)
  • Performance:
    • Acceleration: 0-60 mph 5.2 seconds
    • Maximum speed: 168 mph
  • Price at launch:
    • October 1986: £80,000
    • March 1987: £87,500
    • October 1987: £93,500. ($169,500 USA)
    • March 1988: £99,500. ($182,500 USA)
    • September 1988: £109,000. ($182,500 USA)
    • February 1989: £125,000. ($197,000 USA)
    • August 1989: £135,000. ($197,000 USA)