V8 Volante LWB

V8 Volante LWB Description

Announced: August 1997

Unveiled: October 1997

In production: December 1997 – June 2000

Chassis numbers: 89001 – 89064 (excluding 89012 and 89062) plus 89501

To describe the V8 Volante Long Wheelbase (LWB) simply as a drop-top version of the V8 Coupe is an over simplification. The principal reason for this is that the chassis of the Volante was absolutely unique to the model with an additional 200 mm added to the wheelbase, almost all of which was dedicated to providing the fortunate rear seat passengers, who also benefited from 20 mm of rear shoulder space, with more leg room. The boot also offered a very useful 100% increase in luggage space over the previous Virage Volante giving the LWB a reputation as a genuinely practical continental touring car. Arguably, the LWB Volante could be considered as the most spacious Aston of all time until bettered by the arrival of the four-door Rapide in 2009.

The engine that powered the Volante was the same 349 bhp unit fitted to the Coupe but with a /97 prefix. This was mated to a four speed Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic gearbox with sport and touring modes. There was no manual gearbox option whatsoever. The front and rear suspension featured revised geometry together with the spring and shock absorber settings which were tailored precisely to the needs of an extended wheelbase tourer with few sporting pretentions.

The interior of the Volante had some notable differences to the closed V8 Coupe and Vantage. The electrically operated memory front seats were unique to the car designed for comfort rather than sportiness. Also the centre console was unique with the four minor dials mounted two above two and with two DIN apertures for the Alpine radio cassette player and optional Alpine satnav with retractable screen. A six CD Alpine multichanger was concealed behind the passenger side burr walnut veneer trim. Sometimes the second DIN slot was used as a visual display for optional front and rear parking sensors. Special hydraulic door check straps were developed to control the opening and closing of the sizeable doors. The interior temperature could be controlled with a Jaguar sourced air-conditioning system which had replaceable pollen filters. From the late 1990s, Works Service offered a number of specialist upgrades to the 'V cars', such as Driving Dynamics brakes, suspension, sports exhaust and six-spoke OZ Vantage wheels or five-spoke lightweight Dymag wheels. Many of these can be seen on examples of the LWB Volante.

Oddly, whilst the factory did possess a press demonstrator, there are no known published road tests either in period or in the classic magazines so this interesting model has been somewhat overlooked.

A total of 63 examples were built over a short two year production run. The first four cars were built with what appear to be prototype VIN numbers and prototype engine numbers: two of these are believed to have been destroyed. One single car had an out of sequence chassis number 89501 for a special customer although it is believed that this example has an identical specification to the other sequentially numbered cars. The 63 cars were split into 37 RHD for customers in the UK and Australia with 26 LHD sold to customers in mainland Europe. The car was not available in North America.

The most popular colour chosen for the LWB Volante was blue, reflecting the colour of the original motor show car: predominantly Antrim and Mendip with a total of 26. Green was also popular with 21 (mostly Pentland), followed by Black with 10 examples.

V8 Volante LWB Variants

Roos shooting brake, 2005

One car, a left hand drive example, chassis 89034 underwent a substantial conversion with shooting brake coachwork by AM Heritage specialist, Roos Engineering, Switzerland. The work involved fabricating totally new coachwork aft of the 'A' pillar together with a single piece tailgate and followed similar conversions by Roos on a supercharged Vantage and an Aston Martin Lagonda.

V8 Volante LWB Specification

Body / Coachwork
Two-door 2+2 convertible
Steel platform chassis with handcrafted aluminium alloy body panels
Side-impact protection in doors
Front airdam, bumpers and side sills in GRP
Hydraulically-operated roof with electric latching
Interior
Full Connolly hand-crafted leather interior
Burr walnut veneer set to facia, console and door trims. Optional elm and maple veneers
Alcantara headlining, Mohair hood with heated glass rear screen
Leather-trimmed Wilton Firth carpets, lambswool floor rugs at additional cost
Electrically-operated and heated front seats
CFC-free automatic climate control system with replaceable pollen filters
Leather steering wheel with driver airbag
Alpine radio cassette four-speaker audio system with six-disc CD autochanger hidden in the dash
Optional flip-out screen Alpine sat-nav
WASO alarm system, Passive Anti-Theft (PATs) engine immobiliser system
Heated and electrically-operated rear view door mirrors
Electronic cruise control
Engine
Front-mounted all-alloy 90° V8, 5,340 cc; four valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts per bank. Engine number prefix 97/
Bore 100 mm. Stroke 85 mm. Compression ratio 9.75:1
Weber/Marelli Alpha Plus engine management system, fully sequential system with closed loop Lambda control and on-board diagnostic system (OBDI). Exhaust emissions controlled by two, three-way, catalysts with Lambda sensors
Maximum power: 349 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Maximum torque: 369 lb.ft @ 4,300 rpm
Transmission
Chrysler TorqueFlite four-speed automatic with ‘sport’ and ‘touring’ model
Final drive: Salisbury hypoid bevel with Powr-Lok limited slip differential
Final drive ratio: 4.09:1
Steering
Power-assisted rack and pinion, 2.45 turns lock to lock. Turning circle between curbs of about 14.3 metres
Column tilt adjustment
Wheels and Tyres
OZ 6 spoke, 8.5J x 18" one-piece cast light alloy wheels
Pirelli P Zero 255/50 ZR18 tyres
No spare wheel fitted but tyre inflation aerosols supplied
Suspension
Front: independent double-wishbone incorporating anti-dive geometry. Coil springs with mono-tube dampers and an anti-roll bar
Rear: De Dion unit located fore and aft by parallel radius arms and transversely by Watts linkage. Linear helical coil springs, damper units and spring assisters
Brakes

Front: ventilated steel discs, 362 mm diameter with AP Racing four-pot aluminium calipers

Rear: outboard ventilated steel discs, 285 mm diameter with sliding aluminium calipers
Vacuum servo-assisted tandem master cylinder with Bosch four-channel anti-lock braking system
Dimensions
Length: 4,945 mm
Width: 1,918 mm
Height: 1,380 mm
Kerb weight: 2050 kg
Wheelbase: 2,811 mm
Front track: 1,578 mm
Rear track: 1,582 mm
Boot volume: 240 litres
Fuel tank capacity: 118 litres
Performance
Maximum speed: 150 mph
Acceleration: 0-60 mph 6.5 seconds
Acceleration: 0-100 mph 14 seconds
Price at launch
Sept 1997: £169,500

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