V8 Volante (Weber carb)
V8 Volante (Weber carb)

V8 Volante (Weber carb)

(V540 and V580, Weber carb, formally known as Series 1) (1978 - 1986)

AML was pulled back from total closure in 1975, but the new owners couldn't afford to replace the V8 despite it's advancing age. Fortunately, for less money, the range could be broadened to include various variations based on the saloon. For instance, from 1970, Aston Martin were unable to offer a  convertible following the demise of the DB6 Mark II Volante. It was a similar story for many other manufacturers as the US safety lobby appeared to be killing off all soft tops. But as attitudes in the US began to change, the convertible V8 Volante was unveiled in June 1978 and became in immediate success.

V8 Volante (Weber carb)

The separate chassis of the V8 needed some additional strengthening to compensate for the lack of a roof and thus added an additional 70 kg to the weight. This blunted performance slightly as did the standard fit automatic gearbox; yet a maximum speed of a little over 140mph and 0-60mph 7.7 seconds was more than satisfactory.

The car was so popular in the US that for many months, the only right hand drive example was the prototype (pictured above). This car was shown at the UK motor show in 1978, was extensively road tested and reviewed in motoring magazines and was the personal car of Alan Curtis, who at the time was Managing Director of AML. It is still finished in it’s original Tourmaline Blue although it no longer carries the prestigious AML1 numberplate.

Picture below is an early right hand drive series one Volante, easily identified by the bulge in the bonnet needed to clear the four Weber carburettors. Indeed, this style of bonnet was first seen on the Volante and only transferred to the saloon with the introduction of the ‘Oscar India’ four months later. This was once a works car and thus wore the famous AML 1 registration number .

Walnut veneers made a welcome return to Aston Martins in the Volante. And again, a few months later, the saloon also received the the rich burr walnut veneers. Wood has been a feature of Aston Martins ever since then and until 2001 with the Vanquish, which has no wood inside whatsoever. The car with the blue interior is a rare manual Volante.

As one might expect, the Volante is more sought after than the closed saloon and often used values are at least 100% higher. But the blue car above was somewhat the exception to the rule at the Brookes/AML auction in May 2000. Whilst only described as ‘fair’ condition, the early Volante found a new owner for a modest £19,550 including commission. I would doubt you could buy the same car today for such little money.

All four Volantes above are later carburettor cars and are fitted with the attractive BBS cross spoke alloy wheels which replaced the GKN wheels Even with the power operated hood erected, the car is still extremely handsome.

Initially the US cars had chrome bumpers just like all the European cars. But after 1979 the huge black rubber DOT safety bumpers were standard on cars for the US market. This example is typical of cars exported to the US after 1979, although it actually resides in the Netherlands.

Many US owners would like to convert their cars back to chrome bumper Euro spec. Not too difficult for the front, but the rear needs modifications to the bodywork. See the V8 Volante Weber efi page and visit Autosport Designs for more information. And before you book your car in for a conversion, I will add that despite their looks, the US bumpers do provide excellent protection for the coachwork.

Production of the carburettor Volante continued until January 1985 with the introduction of the revised fuel injected car; a total of 439 examples were completed.

The Elite class at the 2003 AMOC Spring Concours, Waddesdon Manor

The Elite class at the 2003 AMOC Spring Concours, Waddesdon Manor

  • Body/Coachwork:
    • 2 door 2+2 coupe
    • Steel platform chassis with handcrafted aluminium alloy body panels
    • Dual 7” quartz-halogen headlamps, optional Cibre 7” driving lights
    • Built-in rear spoiler, redesigned flat bonnet
  • Interior:
    • Full Connolly leather interior including 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 arieal
  • Engine:
    • Front mounted all-alloy 90° V8, 5,340 cc, two-valves-per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts per bank.
    • Engine number prefix V585/
    • Bore 100 mm. Stroke 85 mm. Compression ratio 9.3 : 1 (8.0 : 1 Emission Control LFM & LFA)
    • Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection
    • Maximum power: not quoted but about 315 bhp @ 5,000 rpm (200 +/- bhp on Emission Control LFA & LFM engine)
    • Maximum torque: not quoted but about 345 lb.ft @ 3,500 rpm
    • Air Injection System: AC Delco air pump, two from 1988
    • Four catalytic convertors on Emission Control LFM & LFA
  • Transmission:
    • Chrysler Torqueflite 3 speed automatic
    • Manual: 5 speed ZF optional at additional cost.
    • Hydraulically operated 10½” Borg and Beck single dry-plate diaphragm clutch
    • Optional cruise control with auto gearbox
    • Final drive: Salisbury hypoid bevel with Powr-Lok limited slip differential. Final drive ratio: 3.54 : 1 (manual cars & NA), 3.058:1 (automatic)
  • Steering:
    • Power assisted rack and pinion 2.9 turns lock to lock. Turning circle between curbs of 11.58 metres
  • Wheels and tyres:
    • Bolt-on, 5 stud, BBS Mahle cast aluminimun alloy 7J x 15
    • Avon Turbosteel 235/70 VR15 (automatic), Avon Textile 225/70 VR15 (manual)
  • Suspension:
    • Front: Unequal transverse wishbones, coil springs and co-axial Armstrong telescopic shock absorbers with an anti-roll bar
    • Rear:  Coil spring with the De Dion tube located by parallel trailing links and a Watts linkage and sprung by co-axial spring shock absorber units
  • Brakes:
    • Front: Ventilated steel discs, 267 mm (10.51″) diameter
    • Rear: Ventilated steel discs, 264 mm (10.39″) diameter mounted inboard Tandem master cylinders and dual vacuum servo assistance
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 4,670 mm, 4,700 mm with overriders, 4,780 mm with 5 mph impact bumpers
    • Width: 1,829 mm
    • Height: 1,327 mm
    • Wheelbase: 2,610 mm
    • Front track: 1,499 mm
    • Rear track: 1,499 mm
    • Kerb Weight: 1,818 kg (1,860 kg USA)
    • Fuel tank capacity: 97.5 litres
  • Performance:
    • No known tests but performance not disimilar to AMV8 Oscar India spec
  • Price at launch:
    • January 1986: £55,000, (USA, $110,000)
    • October 1986: £58,500
    • March 1987: £65,000
    • October 1987: £69,500, (USA $127,000)
    • March 1988: £74,500, (USA $142,000)
    • September 1988: £81,500, (USA $142,000)
    • February 1989: £92,000
    • August 1989: £92,000