V8 Volante (Weber Carbs)

V8 Volante (Weber Carbs) Description

In production: 1978 - 1986

Chassis numbers: 15001 - 15439, plus 15442 & 15448

- V8 Vantage Volante chassis numbers are also within the V8 Volante series

Enter the V8 Volante. Announced on the 21st June 1978, the first year’s production of around 80 cars was virtually all destined for the drop-top hungry US exotic market. As well as the obvious convertible roof, the Volante had acquired some detail differences from the AM V8 saloon. The bonnet (or “hood” in the US) was redesigned with a sculptured fully closed bulge. The interior received some updates but was characterised by the addition of full width polished burr walnut fascia and door capping as standard. The following October saw the introduction of the Oscar India AM V8 and the closed bonnet and walnut finishes were also available as standard on the closed car.

As a convertible, the V8 needed a stiffened platform chassis to compensate for the loss of rigidity with of the roof. The design and engineering work of the Volante became the final project for Harold Beach following more than 25 years of service with AML which included designing the chassis for the DB4. Strengthening was added to increase rigidity with extra box sections in the sills and reinforcement in the base and side of the windscreen pillars.

The power operated hood (“soft-top” in North American) was designed and engineered by George Moseley, who was amongst others, responsible for the hood of the Rolls Royce/Bentley Corniche. Made from Everflex and with a plastic rear window, it was fully lined to provide greater comfort at high speeds when erected but stood a little proud when retraced and covered by a tonneau. Rear accommodation was a little narrower and the boot (trunk) a little smaller too, but this did also present the opportunity of offering bespoke fitted luggage by Tanner Krolle to make best use of the space available.

The first car, 15001, especially made for AML MD Alan Curtis and registered AML1 was finished in Tourmaline Blue with Fawn interior, remaining the only right hand drive car for many months as production, at the rate of three a week, focused on LHD cars principally for North American customers. The second right hand drive Volante was not built until chassis 15042.

The Volante was available with the Chrysler Torqueflite 3-speed automatic (axle ratio 3.07:1) or at an additional cost, the ZF 5-speed manual (axle ratio 3.54:1), but the automatic was the more popular choice. Cars for the US market were fitted with the Federal spec, catalysed LFA/LFM specification engine but it is is now quite common for engines to be modified mechanically back to European specification in those US States with more lenient emissions testing.

With the hood erected, the Volante stood 44 mm taller than the saloon and yet with clever packaging, retained a useful 94.5 litre fuel tank giving a potential touring range of up to 325 miles. Despite all the additional strengthening and the additional hood mechanism, the weight of the Volante was only 68 kg more than the contemporary saloon; about the same as an additional passenger.

Performance of the European specification cars was brisk rather than supercar quick. Top speed was variously stated as between an honest 135 mph and a faintly implausible 150 mph, whereas 60 mph could be reached from a standstill in 7.7 seconds as proved by Motor Magazine, 3rd March, 1979.

Total production of V8 Volante with Weber carburettors reached 441 examples of which just 157 are known to be right hand drive and only 19 of these known to have manual transmission. This leaves 266 known left hand drive cars and of these, just 50 with manual transmission. Of the left hand drive cars, 173 were sold in North America. The V8 Volante was an overwhelming success accounting for more than half of the V8 engined Astons produced every year.

Key updates during production

From the start of 1980, North American market examples starting with chassis 15093, had to be sold with ugly 5 mph impact bumpers. For once, this Federal Department of Transport driven feature wasn’t due to safety as such but was an effort to try to keep repair costs down following low speed crashes. The construction of a black rubber faced aluminium beam mounted on hydraulic rams added around 45 kg to each end of the car. To keep the rear licence plate clearly visible, this was relocated to a new recess above the bumper. From 1985, the 5 mph bumpers became mandatory in cars for Saudi Arabia too. The only saving grace for the rather ugly additions was that they really did protect the delicate coachwork. Nowadays, conversion to European spec chrome bumpers is a common, if expensive occurrence. As well as the replacement of bumpers, a significant amount of coachwork needs changing for the car to resemble European specification.

Development of the Volante ran in line with the contemporary AM V8 saloon. Thus from 1980, the Volante received the V580 spec engine beginning with chassis 15167. In autumn 1983 came the BBS cross spoke wheels, better air-conditioning and the new wings badge. Mid 1984 saw the adoption of the new steering column, stalks and two spoke steering wheel.

V8 Volante (Weber Carbs) Derivatives

For a few very special customers in markets where homologation and type approval were of no consideration, AML was persuaded to put the powerful Vantage engine into the Volante. Despite the obvious risk of having the roof torn off at speeds greater than 140 mph, at least six cars were sold and exported before the officially approved V8 Vantage Volante was first shown in Autumn 1986. All but one appeared standard; the exception being 15363, ordered for an overseas Royal collection which received custom coachwork such as a Vantage air-dam, flared arches, a skirt for the sills and an integral flip-tail. The styling of this unique car led to the more familiar V8 Vantage Volante. Each of the Vantage engined Volantes had regular chassis numbers but the engines had the /V suffix indicating the more powerful engine.

V8 Volante (Weber Carbs) Specification

Body / Coachwork
Two-door 2+2 convertible
Steel platform chassis with handcrafted aluminium alloy body panels
Dual 7'' quartz-halogen headlamps, optional Cibie 7'' driving lights
Power-operated, fully lined Everflex hood with flexible plastic rear window
Interior
Full Connolly leather interior
Coolaire air-conditioning system
Adjustable seats with tilting squabs to allow access to the rear seats
Walnut facia and cappings
Wool pile carpets
Pioneer KP8300 stereo radio cassette player, four speakers, electric aerial
Engine
Front-mounted all-alloy 90° V8, 5,340 cc, two valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts per bank. Engine number prefix V540/, later V580/
Bore 100 mm. Stroke 85 mm. Compression ratio 9.5:1 (V540), 9.25:1 (V580) 8.0:1 (Emission Control LFM & LFA)
Four Weber 42 DCNF downdraught carburettors (90/100 Europe, 98/150 Emission Control LFM & LFA). Fuel supplied by SU AUF 412 electric pump
Maximum power: not quoted but now known to be 306 bhp @ 5,000 rpm (230 +/- bhp Emission Control V540 LFM & LFA, 210 +/- bhp V580 LFM & LFA)
Maximum torque: not quoted at the time but now believed to be 350 lb.ft @ 3,000 rpm
Air injection system: AC Delco air pumps
Twin catalytic convertors on Emission Control LFM & LFA, four from 1980 onwards
Fuel Evaporative System with sealed airbox and carbon canisters from 1980
Ignition system: Lucas 'OPUS' Mk 2 electronic. 12 volt coil and engine driven Lucas 35DE8 distributor
Lucas 35 DM8 CE (Constant Energy) system from 1982
Transmission
Automatic: Chrysler TorqueFlite three-speed automatic
Manual: five-speed ZF. Hydraulically operated 10½" Borg and Beck single dry-plate diaphragm clutch
Optional cruise control with auto gearbox from 1980
Final drive: Salisbury hypoid bevel with Powr-Lok limited slip differential
Final drive ratio: 3.07: 1 (automatic), 3.54: 1 (manual)
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 GKN Kent 15 x 7 '' light alloy wheels. Later BBS Mahle cast aluminium alloy 7J x 15
Avon 225/70 GR70 VR15 radial tyres
Suspension
Front: unequal transverse wishbones, coil springs and co-axial Armstrong telescopic shock absorbers with an anti-roll bar
Rear: rear suspension was by 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: 4,680 mm, 4,700 mm with overriders, 4,780 mm with 5 mph impact bumpers
Width: 1,829 mm
Height: 1,371 mm
Kerb weight: 1,791 kg, later quoted as 1,818 kg (USA, 1,860 kg)
Wheelbase: 2,610 mm
Front track: 1 499 mm, later 1,530 mm
Rear track: 1 499 mm, later 1,562 mm
Fuel tank capacity: 97.5 litres
Performance
Maximum speed: 135 mph (manual)
Acceleration: 0-60 mph 6.6 seconds
0 - 100 mph: 16 seconds
Price (including UK purchase tax/VAT and car tax where applicable)
January 1979: £33,864
November 1979: £38,000
April 1980: £42,500
March 1981: £45,000
February 1982: £47,500, (USA, $115,000 (automatic), $117,500 (manual))
February 1983: £50,000
November 1983: £52,500
April 1984: £55,000
June 1985: £63,000

V8 Volante (Weber Carbs) Number Guide

From introduction, the Volante received the then new chassis number format with the prefix V8COR for right hand drive and V8COL for left with no suffix at all. Japanese cars continued to be a little different with a ‘J’ to replace the first 1 in the chassis number such as ‘V8/J5234’.

From 1981 for US bound cars and from 1984 for all cars, the Volante gained the 17 digit VIN with the final 5 digits of the VIN being what we refer to as the chassis number. Volantes can be identified by a ‘C’ in position 8 of the VIN.

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