The announcement of the V8 Vantage Zagato n 1985 aroused immense interest. Plentiful firm deposits were received and all 50 examples were spoken for within five months, leaving some collectors disappointed. Hopeful prospective customers demanded an increase over the limited production run of 50 cars, even at the high price of £95,000.
But honourably, almost: 52 cars were made. Orginal buyers breathed a collective sigh of relief. They were promised exclusivity and they got it.
The solution that would please everyone was to produce an open version of the V8 Zagato with a different engine specification, which was approved in November 1986. It was a fairly predictable decision, given that open Aston Martin have always been exceedingly popular.
The Volante Zagato followed the same build process as the Vantage Zagato coupe. Aston Martin constructed a rolling chassis, complete with engine, transmission, suspension and wiring and sent it to Zagato. In Milan a new superstructure was added to mount the aluminium body panels. This time, however, the frame required additional stiffening below the waistline to compensate for the convertible’s lack of roof.
In terms of torsion and bending, the chassis rigidity is stiffer than that of the Vantage Zagato. The basic platform is the same as that for the Vantage Zagato and therefore has the advantage of incorporating that car’s excellent suspension package.
Once completed, the Zagato cars were returned to Newport Pagnell and brought into Works Service where the tanks and fuel lines were flushed and the cars given a thorough check and valet before being handed to the customer or dealer.
The first Volante Zagato was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1987. The car on the company’s stand actually started life as one of the 52 coupes (chassis number V8XGR20042). The first production Volante Zagato was chassis number V8ZJR30010.
The purpose of the car was somewhat different to the Vantage version and alternate performance targets were set. The V8 Vantage Volante had already been announced in October 1986 and it was felt that there was no need to produce a Vantage Volante Zagato.
The engine came from the V8 Saloon using the Weber-Marelli sequential fuel injection system and for this reason the Volante had a flat bonnet. Power was cut severely in comparison to the berlinetta model, but buyers of these cars were not seeking outright performance.
Like many other V8 cars, some V8 Vantage Zagatos and Volante Zagatos were later modified to take 437 bhp 5,3-litre Vantage engines, 6,3-litre and 7,0-litre engines.
Outwardly, the Volante Zagato differed from the coupe in several ways. It had a power-operated soft top with a plastic rear window for lightness and a traditional tonneau cover. In addition the flat bonnet flowed down to a distinctive new ‘grille’ that was more faithful to Mittino;s original coupe sketch. The Volante also incorporated there tiers of lightning, including a set of flip-up headlights and full door glasses and retractable rear quarter glasses. The interior, individual specifications aside, replicated from the coupe.
37 open Zagatos were constructed, including two prototypes.
Source & copyright note: from the book ‘Power, Beauty and Soul’ written by the author David Downsey (obtained with permission). None of the text above may be used without the prior written permission of the rightful author, including copying, duplicating, printing, publishing (even on a website), reproducing, storing, or transmitting by any means what so ever.