V8 Vantage Volante

V8 Vantage Volante Description

In production: October 1986 — October 1989

Chassis numbers: 15506 – 15849

- in the same range as the V8 Volante Weber efi

Whilst some V8 Volantes had already been fitted with Vantage engines, plans for a production V8 Vantage Volante began back in 1984 under the internal code name of DP2014 or V8 Volante HP. Rather than just install the high performance Vantage engine into the existing car, the opportunity for a radical updating of the now 20 year old design was taken. The original stylist of the DBS, DBS V8 and AM V8, William Towns, was engaged to update his earlier V8 design and bring it up-to-date for the mid-1980s. Starting with the Brunei Vantage Volante, Towns flared the arches further still and blended them into extended side skirts. The front air dam was beefed up and the arches extended down to meet it. The look was certainly in keeping with the times and made the Vantage Volante the most muscular V8 of all, 63 mm wider than the regular Volante. The car also gained the grille blanking plate of the Vantage saloon although for hot climate markets such as the Middle East, the grille blanking plate was replaced with stainless steel or black mesh to aid cooling. Strangely, the new 1980s re-styling of the Vantage Volante remained unique to the model and was not carried over to the Vantage saloon. Another crucial update was to the hood which gained a third electrically operated latch to prevent it being torn off at the high speeds the car was designed for. The original V8 Volante had a structure called the ‘garden gate’ bolted between the boot floor and rear footwells to improve torsional rigidity and combat scuttle shake. With stiffer suspension and yet more power, the new car was beefed up further with new pick-up points and more bracing.

The pre-production prototype V8 Vantage Volante, 15506, was unveiled on the 8th October 1986 at the British International Motor Show. Like the regular V8 Vantage, it retained carburettors and was fitted with the ‘X-pack’ engine as premiered in the V8 Vantage Zagato with around 410 bhp. The wheel diameter returned to 16 inch, for the first time since the Series 4 DB4 in 1962, though the overall diameter was probably less with the low profile Goodyear Eagle tyres. Initially the car was shown with split-rim Compomotive wheels but following problems with them splitting after being heavily curbed, a replacement was urgently sought. Initially early cars kept with the 15 inch BBS wheel, then back to 16 inch with the MSW or OZ Ceres before AML settled on the now classic 16 inch Ronal.

For the first time, it was decided to offer the V8 Vantage Volante with the option of the three-speed automatic gearbox. As type approval took time, the first few autos were initially built as manuals and changed to auto in the service department to get around this problem.

In addition to the full European specification Vantage Volante, the US market was offered the ‘Cosmetic’ Vantage Volante with the V585 efi Federal with low compression pistons and a pair of twin catalysts. These cars were also distinguished by their flat bonnets and 5 mph impact bumpers juxtaposed with the large air dam, wide arches, side skirts and the fliptail. After a few were delivered, customers began to complain that the ride quality was too harsh. This was resolved by the fitting of what AML called the ‘USA Comfort Pack’, an option which comprised taller softer springs, dampers from the regular Volante and Avon tyres with a taller side wall.

Over a period of three years, the total number of V8 Vantage Volantes of all derivatives was 194. Of these, 133 were equipped with the full Vantage specification V580 ‘X-pack’ engine, 35 of these were built with automatic transmission. The remaining 61 cars received the V585 Federal efi engine, 60 sold in the US and a single car in Switzerland which did not need to have the black rubber bumpers fitted. All were left hand drive of course and 49 of these had automatic transmission.

V8 Vantage Volante Derivatives

V8 Vantage Volante ‘Prince of Wales’ (PoW) specification

Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, has been an Aston Martin owner for many years. Following many years service from his Vantage engined DB6 Mark 2 Volante, the late Emir of Bahrain offered to purchase the Prince, as a gift, a more modern companion. Thus the Prince requested a V8 Volante with a manual gearbox; Vantage engine of course but with more discrete coachwork than the recently introduced Vantage Volante. What was created became a unique model in its own right; essentially a Vantage Volante but with the subtle look of the regular Volante, the classic wolf in sheep’s clothing. The bonnet was taken from the carburettor equipped Volante as the flat bonnet wouldn’t clear the airbox. The wheel arches had a slight flare to cover the MSW 16 inch wheels and a discrete lip spoiler was attached to the front valence. Also the interior came in for some bespoke refinements. As the Prince did not smoke, the ashtray was replaced by a neat storage space for sunglasses with a walnut lid. The switches ahead of the storage space were recessed and the centre armrest was raised in height with ample space for compact cassettes and a jar to hold sugar lumps as a treat for the Prince’s horses. In place of the leather covered two-spoke steering wheel was a smaller diameter three spoke Nardi with a wood rim matched to a Nardi wooden gear knob.

Following an official visit to AML by the Prince a few months after delivery, the press attention given to the unique car caused other customers to specify cars to similar ‘PoW’ specification, each in themselves unique. For instance, two PoW Vantage Volantes, 15690 and 15835, were built with fliptails.

By the time that V8 production ended in 1989, 27 PoW specification cars had been built, with most or all of the special touches that appeared on the Royal car. 22 of the cars were built to right hand drive UK specification; all but one with manual transmission. Five further PoW specification ‘cosmetic’ cars were sold in the US complete with 5 mph bumpers and V585 efi federal engines. All but one were built with manual transmission. It is important to note that all true Vantage Volantes with PoW specification have a ‘C’ in position 8 in their VIN number, not a ‘V’.

V8 Vantage Volante ‘Ecurie Ecosse’ specification

Even rarer Vantage Volantes are three cars that were in effect ‘de-spoilered’ without the flared wheel arches, air dam and side skirts but retaining the fliptail. The owners of the first two examples were the McCaig brothers who ran the Ecurie Ecosse racing team and thus all three of these cars built with V8 Volante coachwork plus fliptails were known as ‘Ecurie Ecosse spec’. It is easy to think that these cars were the same as the pair of PoW cars with fliptails but there is an important distinction. The three Ecurie Ecosse cars had a ‘V’ in position 8 of the VIN.

V8 Vantage Volante Specification

Body / Coachwork
Two-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, four-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 50 mm chokes, big bore airbox and exhausts)
Maximum torque: 395 lb.ft @ 5,100 rpm
Air injection system: twin AC Delco air pumps
Ignition system: Lucas 35 DLM8 electronic
Cosmetic Vantage Volante built with Emission Control V585/LFM or LFA spec engines
Transmission
Manual: five-speed ZF. Hydraulically-operated 10½" Borg and Beck single dry-plate diaphragm clutch
Automatic: Chrysler TorqueFlite three-speed automatic (optional)
Final drive: Salisbury hypoid bevel with Powr-Lok limited slip differential
Final drive ratio: 3.54:1 (manual and North America specifcation), 3.058:1 (automatic)
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, 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 or 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
Maximum speed: 168 mph (manual)
Acceleration: 0-60 mph 5.2 seconds
Price (including UK purchase tax/VAT and car tax where applicable)
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) )

V8 Vantage Volante Number Guide

All V8 Vantage Volantes were given the 17 digit VIN number but the first 26 V580X specification (and all PoWs) had a ‘C’ in position 8. Following full approval from the UK Department of Transport, the ‘C’ was replaced by a ‘V’, the first being chassis 15592. Also the first 11 Vantage Volantes (and oddly the later single Swiss car) fitted with the federal specification V585 had letter ‘C’ instead of letter ‘V’.

Manual cars received engines with /X (V580X) or /LFM (V585, federal specification) suffix, automatic equipped cars had /XA (V580X) or /LFA (V585, federal specification) suffix. The first V8 Vantage Volante was 15506, the last 15849.

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