Vantage Volante Description
In production: July 2000 - October 2000
Chassis numbers: 71001 to 71008
- initially planned to be chassis numbers 70280 to 70287
By 2000, the era of the hand-built Tadek Marek V8 engine was drawing to a close. Many of the old buildings at Newport Pagnell were being gutted and re-equipped for the production of the all new V12 Vanquish. Whilst the Vantage Le Mans was publicly marketed as the last ever model of the coach built V8 era, the Special Projects Group of Works Service was working on an even more exclusive run out model which eventually gained that accolade. During the late 1980s, the V8 Vantage Volante had been such a strong seller through combining the most powerful production engine and sportiest chassis with the popular convertible 2+2 coachwork. There had perhaps been a missed opportunity in the mid-1990s in not offering a Virage Volante with the powerful supercharged engine alongside the highly regarded Vantage coupe, instead of just the open top 6.3 conversion.
Eventually, from 1999, a joint project between Manufacturing and the Works Service Special Projects Group, a team lead by Steve Bolton and Shaun Rush, created such a ‘halo’ car. The result was the V8 Vantage Volante Special Edition, based on the 2,611 mm wheelbase standard length Virage Volante platform and fitted with the supercharged V8 Vantage engine. Production on the east side of Tickford Street had completed the first chassis alongside production of the Vantage Le Mans, beginning in mid-1999. All the chassis were then removed from the line and stored before being finally competed until the final Le Mans Vantage was being built,. The installation of the engines and final finishing was undertaken on the other side of the road from the production, in Works Service.
These were the very last cars to be constructed in the time honoured fashion with a hand-built steel platform chassis and hand beaten aluminium coachwork; they were also the last Volantes built at Newport Pagnell.
The whole project remained secret and the car was never generally marketed except directly to a few loyal customers. By the time AML went public about the car with a small article in the November 2000 issue of Works Torque, the customer magazine of Works Service, all eight cars were complete and sold - each to a unique and exacting specification. No two cars were the same or even similar in final specification. Some featured various elements of Vantage Le Mans styling while others were remarkably discrete and difficult to differentiate from a LWB V8 Volante. The basic price of each was £229,950 before adding the extensive list of extras and upgrades such as the V600 engine upgrade and driving dynamics package.
Unlike some German manufacturers who cap the performance of their most powerful models, the V8 Vantage Volante was not restricted in any way which perhaps made them the fastest four-seater convertibles of all time. The claimed top speed of 200 mph was certainly plausible although no road test took the car to such extremes.
Of the eight cars, five were completed in right hand drive for the British customers, and three were left hand drive for German and Swiss customers. All were built as manuals with the five-speed gearbox, although one retained all six speeds. It is believed that all but two were built to V600 specification. The very last car, 71008 was delivered to its fortunate new owner at the end of October 2000.
A related supercharged Volante but this time on the long wheelbase chassis was also made alongside the eight cars on the standard wheelbase chassis. That car was detailed alongside the other unique Works Service specials.
Due to the existence of a LWB Vantage Volante, there is sometimes a tendency to call the eight regular cars 'short chassis’ or ‘SWB’ Vantage Volantes although they sit on the regular length Virage Volante chassis not an especially shortened one.