1966 Aston Martin 'Short-Chassis' Volante
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RM Sotheby's - Monaco
12th May 2012
1966 Aston Martin 'Short-Chassis' Volante
282 bhp, 3,995 cc DOHC alloy inline six-cylinder engine, triple SU carburettors, ZF five-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with upper/lower A-arms, coil springs and anti-roll bar, live rear axle with Watt linkage, radius rods and coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,490 mm (98") • One of the 37 Short-Chassis Volantes built; original RHD example • Accompanied by a copy of the Aston Martin build sheet and service records • One of the finest and most attractive DB-Series Aston Martin models The image of the quintessential British GT car is exemplified most aptly with the legendary Aston Martin DB series of sports cars, especially in glamorous open-air convertible form. As production of the new Aston Martin DB6 was heralded by the display at the London Motor Show in October 1965, an initial batch of 37 convertible models was initiated on the last remaining shorter chassis of the outgoing DB5. These were christened simply ‘Volante’ by factory man Kent Monk, meaning, literally, “flying” and marking the first such Aston to carry this nomenclature. Ever since, this exotic appellation has been used to identify the open Aston Martin cars. Although they were built and marketed alongside the contemporary DB6s and embodied all the DB6 refinements, progressing from the DB5, the Volante was, in fact, destined to be an ‘interim’ model that was built on a left over DB5 chassis. As a result, it is the lowest-production convertible Aston, and it remains one of the rarest and most coveted of all Aston Martin road cars today. An evolution of the iconic DB5, made world-famous by a certain secret agent in her Majesty’s secret service, the Volante utilised the same 2,490 cm wheelbase, and today, it is routinely referred to as the ‘Short-Chassis Volante’, in order to easily distinguish it from its longer DB6 and DB6 Mk II Volante successors. The Short-Chassis Volante carried on with the race-proven all-alloy, twin-cam straight six powerplant, in its 4.0-litre form, with triple SU carburettors and rated 282 bhp at 5,500 rpm. The gearbox was the robust ZF five-speed manual unit introduced midway through DB5 production, which greatly enhanced the comfortable highway driving experience over the prior David Brown-supplied four-speed unit. A Borg-Warner automatic option was also available, which was installed in 13 of the 37 Short-Chassis Volantes produced. Rack-and-pinion steering and dual-system Girling hydraulic disc brakes on all corners completed the impressive mechanical specifications. The aluminium body was constructed using the patented Touring of Milan ‘Superleggera’ process of wrapping the panels around an open lattice of small-diameter steel tubing, resulting in a structure that is exceptionally rigid, as well as lightweight. The Short-Chassis Volante is visually distinguished from the DB5 convertible by the front valance grille for the oil cooler, accentuated by DB6-type quarter bumpers on the front and back. The taillight treatment is also unique, creating an attractive finishing point to this elegant and handsome car, set off by the first use of the ‘Volante’ logotype, applied to the boot lid. The SCV’s interior accommodations reflected the DB6 restyle, with V-pattern stitching on Connolly leather, in place of its predecessor’s pleats. Plush Wilton wool carpets were supplied, as per usual practice. The lined convertible top was made of high-quality Everflex material and pebble-grain vinyl, also used by Rolls-Royce. Power steering was available for the first time with the introduction of the DB6, and it was offered as an optional extra on the SCV. The stunning example presented here, chassis DBVC-2325-R, was finished in California Sage with beige trim and hood and left the Aston Martin works on the 3 June 1966, registered KLE 461 D. According to a copy of its original build sheet, it was fitted with such desirable “Non Standard” original features as chrome wire road wheels with three-eared wheel spinners and a power-operated radio antenna. The Aston was supplied new, via H.R. Owen, to the late Sir John Clark, CEO of The Plessey Co. Ltd. of Ilford, Essex, who was well-known for his love of automobiles and registered the car as KLE461D. The documentation on file also shows service work carried out by the factory into 1967, where the mileage indicated was listed as 6,792 miles. Subsequent owners include P.J. Brookes and K.K. Kathcart, who acquired 2325-R in 1971 and 1981, respectively. During the 1980s, 2325-R was sold to a collector in Paris, France, under whom it was restored in the early-1990s, and then sold in June 1995. When restored, DBVC-2325-R was refinished in Dark Metallic Green with green trim, the colours it continues to sport today. Next, DBVC-2325-R returned to England, where it was registered OGC289D, the number it retains today, and it was sold to the current owner in 1998. As one of the premier cars within the current owner’s collection, 2325-R was comprehensively sorted following acquisition by him and fastidiously maintained by Aston Martin marque specialists, with numerous invoices corroborating the care lavished on this immensely rare automobile. There are few cars from the 1960s with as much visual appeal, brute performance and sheer exclusivity as the Aston Martin Short-Chassis Volante. Simply lovely and virtually immaculate throughout, 2325-R is offered with a current MOT, with UK taxes paid. Ready to drive, it will make an ideal, not to mention chic and comfortable, entry into any concours d’elegance or classic touring event. Its offering is a unique opportunity to purchase a “blue chip” automobile whose rarity and desirability are in a class all their own.
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