Halfway between the rather lovely DB4 GT and V12 Zagatos, Aston Martin’s long-running partnership with Zagato gave us these: the V8 Vantage Zagato and V8 Vantage Volante, erm, Zagato.
RM Sotheby’s is auctioning these two examples at next month’s Villa Erba sale in Italy, where they’ll line-up alongside the Arrow Blue 918 Spyder, a McLaren P1 GTR and a Porsche 911R (with less than 1,000 miles on it) among others. Much to be excited about, then, but it’s those Astons we’re interested in.
Mostly because you hardly ever see one. Aston only built 52 coupes and 37 Volantes, and the specs of these cars make them rarer still. Of the 52 coupes, this car is one of just five left-hookers. The Volante, meanwhile, is one of five roadsters fitted with the upgraded ‘Vantage’ V8 from the coupe, and the only one of those five with left-hand drive.
The Vantage Zagato was revealed at the 1986 Geneva motor show. Its wheelbase was 17cm shorter than a regular Vantage’s, and the hand-beaten aluminium body and lack of rear-seats meant it was much lighter. The 5.3-litre V8 produced 432bhp, which was enough for 0-62mph in less than five seconds and a claimed top speed of 186mph with the five-speed manual. The cost in 1986 was £87,000, which in today’s money is very nearly £250k.
The Volante, meanwhile got the long, sloping bonnet the coupe was always meant to have, but a less powerful V8, with something like 315bhp. Both cars were supposed to use the Volante’s fuel-injected V8, but Aston was worried it wouldn’t give the coupe a high enough top-speed, so it gave those more powerful carburetted V8s instead - hence the massive ‘power bulge’.
Volantes also got different front ends, then, with a blanked-out grille and covered headlights. But as this car is one of five with the 432bhp Vantage engine (and accompanying bonnet-bulge), it has the coupe’s nose instead.
Which one would you have? The coupe was delivered to a Middle Eastern sheikh in 1987, involved in an accident in the mid-Nineties, and then fully rebuilt and upgraded by Aston. The colour also changed from grey over grey to black over cream.
The Volante’s covered more distance (4,000km vs 13,000km), but it’s rarer, newer and at no point has it been backwards through a hedge. Besides, if you’re in the market for an outrageous Eighties Aston, you may as well get a yellow one.
Images by Tim Scott, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s