Senior Specialist, Head of Department, UK
The Aston Martin V8 survived the company's changes of ownership and financial upheavals of the 1970s, appearing in numerous variants, one of the more exclusive being the Volante convertible. Introduced in response to customers' demands for such a car, the latter first appeared in June 1978. Arguably the ultimate in soft-top luxury, the Volante boasted a lined, power-operated hood which, when erected, endowed the walnut embellished interior with all the solidity and refinement associated with the saloon version. Although its open-car aerodynamics meant that top speed suffered with the hood down, the Volante's 140mph-plus maximum nevertheless ranked it among the world's fastest convertibles. V8 Volante chassis numbers ran from '15001' to '15849', a total of 849 cars.
Although introduced in 1978, the Volante convertible did not become available to high-performance Vantage specification until 1986. Along with the more powerful Vantage engine and its associated bonnet came flared wheelarches, a boot spoiler (a feature the Volante had previously lacked) and an extended front spoiler, while glassfibre extensions replaced the model's hitherto characteristic chromed sill covers. The result was a muscular, aggressive-looking car that could justifiably claim to be the world's fastest convertible.
Not all Aston Martin customers found the new look to their liking however, preferring the more restrained appearance of the earlier model. Foremost among these was HRH The Prince of Wales, who ordered his Volante with Vantage engine and bonnet but otherwise effectively to standard specification. For many the jewel in the Aston crown, the Vantage Volante to 'Prince of Wales' specification was produced for only two years from 1988, drawing uniquely from the best of the Volante and Vantage features. The factory went on to build 26 examples of the 'Prince of Wales' specification Vantage Volante before V8 production finally ceased in December 1989.
Chassis number '15413' is a late Series 1 model built for the US market immediately prior to the introduction of the fuel-injected Series 2. Converted from left- to right-hand drive by the factory in July 1987 and fitted with European-specification bumpers, the car benefits from a most extensive (though not 'body off') restoration completed by Works Service in December 2008 at a cost of £176,000, in the course of which it was converted to cosmetic 'Prince of Wales' specification (with standard rather than Vantage engine).
Works carried out include rebuilding the engine to European specification and 'unleaded' compatibility; fitting new Weber carburettors; overhauling the automatic transmission; rebuilding the rear axle with a higher final drive ratio; stripping bare, repairing and repainting the body; re-trimming the interior and hood; re-veneering the woodwork; fitting correct Ronal wheels; and supplying a tool roll, jack, warning triangle and securing straps.
The car has been refinished in Cumberland Grey to the same specification as the Volante that featured in the 1987 motion picture The Living Daylights, starring Timothy Dalton as secret agent '007', James Bond. 'C391 VPL' has remained in storage at Works Service since completion and is presented in the kind of condition one would expect following such a thorough rebuild by the best-qualified technicians in the field. The car is offered with AMWS's detailed invoice, current road fund licence and fresh MoT.
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