Virage Volante

Virage Volante Description

Latterly known as the V8 Volante

Unveiled: October 1990

In production: January 1992 - August 1996

Chassis numbers : DP2054/1 - DP2054/5 (prototypes); 60001 - 60224 and 69225 - 69234 (production)

When the Virage coupe was unveiled in late 1988 it was something of a forgone conclusion that a Volante version would follow in time. Indeed, the basic structure of the saloon was designed with such future development in mind. When first unveiled at the 1990 British Motor Show, the prototype convertible Volante was a 2-seater although due to customer pressure, by the time of the Geneva Motor Show in March 1991, the car had gained two additional rear seats and it is believed that all the production cars were built to a 2+2 specification. Production cars were eventually made available to customers from the beginning of 1992 as the Volante was subjected to considerable additional development and testing prior. It was said that the hood mechanism was subjected to 2000 openings and closings on a test rig before the design was approved.

Mechanically, the Volante was very closely based on the coupe with the same spec 5.3 litre 89/ specification engine together with either automatic 3-speed or, quite rarely, the manual 5-speed ZF transmission. The suspension was revised to improve both ride and handling and an antilock braking system (ABS) was included in the specification: the first AM to have this feature.

The hood material was a high quality mohair (although Everflex could also be ordered for additional cost) with Alcantara headlining and heated rear glass screen while the power operating mechanism for the hood included an automatic latching system onto the screen frame. The rear quarter glass panels, not previously seen on a Volante, were also power operated and could be lowered so, with the roof erected, the car became a pillarless coupe. When retracted, and despite the sacrifice of boot space and rear accommodation, the hood sat slightly proud of the bodywork and could be covered by a leather tonneau cover.

In addition to the retracting roof, there were some small cosmetic refinements quite unique to the Volante. The car had chrome bright-work along the top of the doors as well as having chromed rear quarter glass surrounds and door handles. The grille also had the horizontal bars finished with chrome strips and there was a narrow chrome strip along the edge of the boot lid.

Virage Volante production lasted for four and a half years to summer 1996 with a total of 234 cars produced. Of these, 121 were RHD for the UK, South Africa and Brunei (all but 7 were automatics) and 113 were LHD for mainland Europe, the Middle East and North America (all but 18 were automatics). Despite the popularity of the previous V8 Volante in North America, only 20 Virage Volantes were sold in that market and, of these, only two had manual transmission.

The later cars were a little slower to sell and although mechanically similar to the recently introduced V8 Coupe, the differences in styling would have been apparent. This must no doubt have delayed the introduction of the replacement model, the Long Wheelbase V8 Volante, which was not shown to the public until the autumn of 1997.

Virage Volante Updates

From chassis 60035, after only a relatively small number of cars had been completed the Volante was updated for the 1993 model year, with revised dashboard and facia. The vehicle information computer was dropped from the centre console to be replaced by three subsidiary analogue dials mounted above the air vents. The single instrument binnacle was replaced with individual analogue dials with a walnut veneer facing. Most prominent was the fitting of a driver airbag-equipped steering wheel (borrowed from the Lincoln Town Car) which allowed the Virage Volante to be sold in North America where the previous V8 Volante had been so popular. The new steering wheel was fitted to a new hub and the twin stalks replaced with a single column stalk which controlled indicators, wipers and the headlamp main beam.

From chassis 60043 and introduced at the 1993 Geneva Motor show, the venerable 3-speed automatic gearbox was replaced by a revised Chrysler TorqueFlite electronically controlled 4-speed automatic gearbox with sport and touring modes. The final drive on the automatic car was shortened from 3.062 to 3.54 for better flexibility and drivability. Also, the five spoke 17 inch diameter alloy wheels, featuring a new and exclusive design were introduced with 255/60 ZR tyres.

The styling model of the Virage featured a new version of the classic Aston Martin wing vent although these were not initially applied to production models. For the Volante, wing vents were incorporated on chassis beginning with number 60050. It was possible and indeed is still is possible for earlier cars to have the vent retrofitted at Aston Martin Works.

Later examples of the Volante received a slightly revised front airdam with a cut-down centre section requiring a new three-piece undertray.

Headlamp washers became an optional extra from chassis 60123.

The engine cooling system was upgraded from chassis 60193 with the fitting of twin fans.

From the 225th Volante, the car was fitted with the more powerful 95/ engine which was also used in the recently introduced V8 Coupe and the chassis numbers were changed to the 69*** range. At this point, there was also a name change to V8 Volante; the Virage name was omitted from all marketing material a few months previously. In total, just ten cars were built with the /95 engine (all but one in RHD) in both standard and wide body form and all with automatic transmissions.

Virage Volante Derivatives

6.3 Conversion and Wide body Volante (also known as 6.3 Cosmetic)

Alongside the 6.3 conversion package on the coupe, the same upgrade was also made available on the Virage Volante. Customers who had purchased brand new cars found themselves having much of the bodywork replaced over the road in Works Service. This will not have been well received as many later examples of the Virage Volante were built to wide body specification whilst in production which offered a significant monetory saving over the aftermarket coachwork conversion. Many of these cars retained the regular 89/ specification 5.3 litre engine. Such cars are known as Wide Body Volantes or 6.3 Cosmetics. As expected, the full 6.3 conversion was not available for sale in North America. The Registrars are aware of a single cosmetic 6.3 Volante that was sold in the US.

24 true 6.3 Virage Volantes feature in the Register, two of which, 60007 and 60107, retained the standard un-widened coachwork. The Register is also lists 26 cosmetic 6.3s, (three with the /95 specification engine) although this is certainly less than were built in total.

A small number of Volantes were also returned to Works Service to have front and rear Vantage styling alongside the widened coachwork. Six of these cars are currently known (two true 6.3s & four cosmetic) and again there could be a few more.

One of the four cosmetics with Vantage styling and probably the last built (60204), also had Vantage sills and wheel arch profiles and is perhaps unique.

Chassis number 60200 was another unique example of the 6.3 Cosmetic Volante built to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the AMOC. The silver painted car was built in association with Cartier of London and was adorned with Cartier diamond, emerald and ruby jewellery with a combined value of £750,000.

Additionally, a single regular width Volante has also has been modified with the later V8 Volante LWB front styling conversion at Works Service.

Virage Volante Specification

Body / Coachwork
Two door 2+2 convertible
Steel platform chassis with handcrafted aluminium alloy body panels
Front airdam, bumpers and side sills in GRP
Electrically operated fully lined hood with heated glass rear screen
Hood in Mohair or optional Everflex at additional cost
Full Connolly leather interior
Woolcloth headlining, leather trimmed Wilton carpets. Lambswool floor rugs at additional cost
Burr walnut veneer set to facia, console and door trims
Electrically operated and heated front seats, initially Rover 800 base/Recaro back then from end of 1993, full Recaro
CFC free air conditioning system
Analogue instruments in a single backlit binnacle in 1992MY cars, then individual dials within walnut veneer panel from 1993MY
Computerised vehicle information centre and fault finder in 1992MY cars, then replaced by three analogue dials from 1993MY
Leather steering wheel with driver airbag
Driver airbag for 1993MY onwards
Sony radio cassette four speaker audio system with CD option
Optional Sony Disc Jockey CD autochanger
Remote alarm and engine immobiliser
Heated front screens
Front mounted all-alloy 90° V8, 5,340 cc; four-valves-per-cylinder, twin overhead camshafts per bank. Engine number prefix 89/
Bore 100 mm. Stroke 85 mm. Compression ratio 9.5:1
Weber/Marelli 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
Catalysts deleted on Middle Eastern, Saudi, Brunai and Singapore markets where only leaded petrol available
Maximum power: 330 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Maximum torque: 350 lb.ft @ 3,500 rpm
From chassis 69225 (April 1995) engine number prefix 95/, 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).
Maximum power: 349 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Maximum torque: 369 lb.ft @ 4,300 rpm
Automatic: Chrysler TorqueFlite three-speed automatic
Automatic: Chrysler TorqueFlite four-speed automatic with ‘sport’ and ‘touring’ mode from chassis 60043
Manual: five-speed ZF. Clutch: hydraulically operated Borg & Beck with 267 mm diaphragm, not available with /95 engine
Final drive ratio: 3.54:1 (manual), 3.06:1 (automatic). From chassis 60043, 3.54:1 (all cars). Limited slip differential
Power assisted rack and pinion
Adjustment for rake
Wheels and Tyres
7J x 16 inch five-spoke special lightweight aluminium alloy wheels.
Avon Turbospeed 255/60 ZR16 tyres
Optional 5-spoke, 8J x 17" light alloy wheels, standard on later examples
Avon Turbospeed 255/55 ZR17 tyres
Front: independent, transverse unequal length wishbones, co-axial spring damper units and anti-roll bar
Rear: cast aluminium alloy De Dion unit located fore and aft by cast light aluminium alloy triangulated 'A' frame radius arms and transversely by Watts linkage with damper units and dual rate springs
Front: PBR Ventilated steel discs, 330 mm diameter
Rear: outboard solid steel discs, 289 mm diameter with sliding aluminium calipers
Servo assisted tandem master cylinder with Bosch four channel anti-lock braking system
Length: 4,745 mm
Width: 1,856 mm
Height: initially quoted as 1,360 mm. Later example quoted 1,400 mm
Kerb weight: 1,960 kg (manual), 2,000 kg (automatic)
Wheelbase: 2,611 mm
Front track: 1,510 mm
Rear track: 1,554 mm
Boot volume: 240 litres
Fuel tank capacity: 95 litres
Maximum speed: 155 mph
Acceleration: 0-60 mph 6.5 seconds
Acceleration: 0-100 mph 16.0 seconds
March 1992: £149,000
January 1993: £147,862

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