A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Buy for: £109,250
The Volante (convertible) had been the big seller of the previous generation of AM V8s, so the only surprise was that it took Aston Martin more than two years from the Virage Coupé's introduction to come up with a soft-top sister. The production Virage Volante debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1991, a prototype having been displayed at Birmingham's NEC the previous October. Weighing in at over two tonnes, the open Volante was even heavier than the closed Coupé, itself no lightweight, this increase in weight being accounted for by considerable body strengthening to compensate for the absent roof, plus the extra complication of the power-operated convertible hood. Electrically powered, the latter was beautifully made and incorporated a glass rear window, complete with heated de-misting elements. Mechanically the Volante remained much the same as its closed cousin, though with a slightly lower final drive.
However, there was no disguising the fact that the Volante simply lacked 'grunt' and from the outset, Aston engineers began working on the problem. Their solution, ahead of the forthcoming twin-supercharged Vantage, was for the Works Service Department to offer 6.3-litre conversions for the existing 5,340cc V8-engined cars. Introduced in January 1992, this package could cost more than £60,000 (depending on options) and offered increased power whilst offering a menu of modifications to the bodywork, suspension, and brakes. Power was upped to circa 450bhp, thanks to boring and stroking the V8 to 6.3-litres, which gave the two-tonne leviathan "more grunt than a pigsty" and, to cope, huge ventilated brakes were fitted to all corners, along with bigger 'OZ' alloy-wheels/ tyres, all tucked neatly under muscular flared arches. Most crucially, the suspension was uprated, and a conventional de-Dion rear end was fitted, using Watts linkage/radius arm location, whilst at the front the spring rates were increased. The suspension tuning was the work of Rod Mansfield, the legendary Ford SVO engineer.
In addition to the wider wheel arches, there were a number of other bodywork modifications, air dams, sills etc that appeared on the large engined 'Widebody' cars and customers with no need for the 6.3's improved performance but who, nevertheless, appreciated the aggressive looks of the 'Widebody', could order the package's cosmetic items in isolation. Aston Martin themselves recognised this demand, building a number of Volantes to Cosmetic Widebody specification but naturally, it is the genuine factory original Widebody cars that are the more desirable and valuable. Only 26 factory-built Widebody cars were ever produced and further provenance with this car is in the fact that according to the Order Confirmation letter in the file from Stratstone to the purchaser, this is the third new Volante built to full 6.3 specifications for registration in the UK.
This lovely example was supplied by Stratstone and first registered on 21/01/1994 to its first owner who lived in Cavendish Square, London which might explain the low mileage. It was finished in the classic Aston colours of Buckingham Green with a black leather interior piped in Spruce and, as you might expect with a mileage of less than 11,000 from new, remains in wonderful condition. Its first owner parted with the car in 2017 and since then it has been relaxing in a significant private collection.
There is a substantial service and MOT invoice from Joe Macari in 2011 in the file showing a mileage of 10,486 and the documented MOT history is as follows; 1997 at 7,333, 1999 at 8,105, 2000 at 8,685, 2001 at 9,123, 2004 at 9,668, 2005 at 10,048, 2007 at 10,193, 2008 at 10,312, 2011 at 10,486, 2016 at 10,694. The car is supplied with its V5C registration document, the current MOT valid until October 2020, together with a history folder confirming the low mileage and the original bill of sale showing the final invoice price of £195,236.
Although the original Virage was not universally admired, the 6.3-litre Widebody was acclaimed by all as the car the Virage should have been all along and this rare, factory-built Volante, in sparkling condition with its tiny mileage must surely represent a serious investment opportunity.