Senior Specialist, Head of Department, UK
'On the road, the Zagato eats up the long straights. Once moving its progress is magnificently effortless. Like most very fast cars, it's as if it isn't constrained by the physical laws of gravity and air resistance. Unlike most very fast cars, however, it fools its driver into thinking that its blistering, growling pace is normal, comfortable, undramatic.' - Motor.
With the introduction of the Vantage Zagato in 1986, Aston Martin renewed its association with one of Italy's most illustrious carrozzeria, Zagato having been responsible for that most celebrated and desirable of all post-war Aston Martins, the DB4GT. Neighbouring stands at the 1984 Geneva Salon facilitated the initial contact between Aston boss Victor Gauntlett and the Zagato brothers, and by following year the project had progressed sufficiently for Aston to accept deposits on the 50 production cars planned. The first prototype was shown to the public at Geneva in March 1986, and in June successfully met its design target by achieving a maximum speed of 186mph while on test with the French magazine Sport Auto.
Part of Zagato's brief had been to shed some of the standard Vantage's not inconsiderable weight, and this was achieved by the simple expedient of shortening the wheelbase by a little over 17 centimetres and deleting the rear seats, thus creating the first production two-seater since the DB4GT. The 5.3-litre four-cam V8 was, naturally, to Vantage specification, producing a mind-bending 432bhp at 6,200rpm. The manner of its installation though, created a certain amount of controversy, the Zagato's low sloping bonnet, penned in the expectation of a fuel-injected engine, being marred by an unsightly bulge necessary to clear the Vantage's quartet of Webers.
Predictably, given the success of the coupé, a Zagato Volante convertible was not long in coming, the first example, a converted saloon, being exhibited in 1987. Intended only for the fuel-injected 320bhp engine, the Volante avoided its sibling's bonnet bulge unless, of course, a customer specified an engine in Vantage tune. The Volante was intended to be even more exclusive than its closed cousin - 25 were planned initially, as opposed to 50 coupés - and in the event a total of 37 had been built by the time production ceased in 1990, making this one of the rarest and most desirable of open supercars as well as an exceptionally collectible Aston Martin.
This right-hand drive Zagato Volante was previously the property of Simon Le Bon, lead singer and lyricist with the 'New Romantic' pop group Duran Duran, which enjoyed a succession of chart hits during the 1980s. Sold at auction to the second owner in the 1990s, it was acquired by the immediately preceding (fourth) owner in April 2003 and purchased by the current vendor at Bonhams' Works Service Sale in May 2007 (Lot 206).
In April 2009 (at 2,649 miles) the Zagato was returned to Works Service for extensive re-commissioning at a cost of over £8,500 (see detailed bill on file). Since then the Zagato has covered only another 400-or-so miles and is described as in superb original condition. Finished in Javelin Grey with parchment leather interior, the car is offered with service booklet and related invoices, a quantity of expired MoT certificates, Swansea V5C registration document and fresh MoT. Also included is the original instruction manual, two sets of keys and warranty card dated 22.12.89 recording 'S Le Bon Esq' as first owner.
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