'The Volante is the new soft-top version of the Virage incorporating the latest changes made to the full Aston range. Beautiful hand-built craftsmanship abounds in this most aristocratic of convertibles.' - Fast Lane.
Premiered at the London Motor Show in October 1998 was one of the most elegant of modern day Aston Martins: the long-wheelbase Volante convertible. Built on a wheelbase not shared with any other V8 Aston, this longer version of the Volante benefited from a 200mm stretch that increased rear passenger leg room and luggage space, and was built to the improved specification of the V8 Coupé that had replaced the Virage as the 'standard' model.
Introduced at the Geneva Salon in March 1996, the new V8 Coupé adopted all of the high-performance Vantage's muscular styling cues but retained the normally aspirated, 5.3-litre engine. The latter boasted revised cylinder heads, camshafts, pistons and an improved 'Alpha Plus' electronic engine management system, all of which boosted maximum power by 24bhp over the earlier Virage unit.
Short-wheelbase Volante convertibles were built to the V8 Coupé's improved specification prior to the introduction of the long-wheelbase version, which has the distinction of being the last production Volante built at Newport Pagnell. Four-speed automatic transmission (with 'sport' and 'touring' modes), anti-lock brakes and speed-sensitive power assisted steering were standard on the LWB Volante. With a quoted 354bhp on tap, it was one of the world's fastest soft-tops; the factory's claimed performance figures being a 0-60mph time of 6.2 seconds and a top speed of over 150mph.
As well as the 200mm of increased legroom, the LWB Volante's rear passengers enjoyed 20mm of extra shoulder width, making the car one of the roomiest in its class and ideal for growing families. Needless to say, the luxurious interior was trimmed in the best traditions of Aston Martin coachbuilding, featuring Connolly leather upholstery, burr walnut veneer, Wilton carpeting and chromed fittings. There was also a state-of-the-art stereo system and the option of satellite navigation, while air conditioning, air bags, 'memory' seats and a fully automatic electrically powered hood were all included for the £169,500 asking price. Given the latter, it is perhaps not surprising that by the time production of Aston Martin's long running V8 finally ceased in 2000, only 64 of these exclusive, last-of-the-line LWB Volantes had been built compared with 234 of the standard shorter-wheelbase version.
First registered on 24th January 1998, this automatic transmission LWB Volante has had four previous owners, the last of whom acquired the car on 13th July 2005 and maintained the Aston to the highest standard. There are nine invoices issued between 22nd December 2005 and 31st May 2012, during which period the car underwent a complete repair and maintenance programme covering the engine, transmission, steering, front suspension, brakes, wheels/tyres, chassis, exhaust, bodywork, interior and electrics. As a result, 'R173 WWO' was in outstanding condition when it was acquired on 30th June 2012, the odometer reading at that time being circa 26,000 miles. Fewer than 1,000 miles have been covered since then and the current reading is 26,995 miles. Since its purchase, careful maintenance has continued under Runnymede Motor Company's warranty programme ensuring that the Aston remains in outstanding order in all respects.
Stored in a protective Carcoon providing airflow and battery replenishment, the car is described as in generally excellent driveable condition and capable of use as an everyday commuter. The engine is in superb condition, registering regulation oil pressure and never overheating in traffic, while the interior is likewise in pristine condition. Finished in blue with beige leather interior, 'R173 WWO' comes with the original Virage Volante manual as well as an instruction booklet for the integrated stereo and satellite navigation system. Accompanying documentation consists of the aforementioned restoration invoices, current MoT certificate and Swansea V5C document. A rare modern Aston Martin destined for future collectible classic status.