Spotted in New York, a 1986 Aston Martin V8 Volante for $119,500 USD. This is a Left Hand Drive model in excellent original condition with 45k miles and Rare Factory Luggage. It is white with tan leather interior. The Volante for 1985-1989 featured Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection. These EFI distinguished visually by their BBS wheels and virtually flat bonnets.
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• According to Nigel Woodward, manager of Heritage Operations at Works, it doesn’t matter which variant you’re looking at – DBS V8, early AM V8, post-1978 ‘Oscar India’, or the final run of Weber-Marelli injected cars – they’re all fundamentally the same underneath, which means that the biggest concern is corrosion.
• All the V8s had the same conventional steel box-section chassis with a steel superstructure clad in alloy panels. All of it was made and assembled by hand at Newport Pagnell, but while the skills of the craftsmen were never in doubt, rust prevention measures were very much of the time (i.e. fairly perfunctory by modern standards).
• Corrosion of the sills is the biggest single issue with V8s, and as with any Aston that’s not a small job to put right properly. Basically it involves cutting off the front and rear wing bottoms to gain access to the structure of the car, removing the sills, repairing the floors and making up new sill sections and putting them back in. And then of course you’ve got to fill, prepare and paint both sides of the car. It’s a major undertaking by anybody’s standards.
• In terms of build quality, there’s not much to choose between any of them, so newer is not necessarily better.
• The engine, aside from the switch from fuel injection to carburettors and then back to fuel injection, was essentially unchanged from the first DBS V8 to the final EFi.
• It’s a wet-liner engine, and relies on O-ring seals at the bottom of the liners to seal them to the block. If the block becomes corroded, you end up with coolant and oil trying to mix together. There are telltale weep-holes at the base of each cylinder on the outside of the block, and if you get a telltale weep of oil or coolant it’s a sign that something’s amiss.
• The Bosch fuel injection system can be set up to work perfectly well. The main problem today is getting some of the components. Same with the electronic fuel injection; the electronic modules are no longer available, though they can be repaired, depending on what’s wrong with them. If you had a car that needed two new ECUs you’d be a little bit stuck. Overall, though, it’s a robust engine.
• And that goes for the drivetrain, too. The gearboxes were the same through all the generations, and both the ZF five-speed manual and three-speed TorqueFlite auto were already well-proven units and have proved generally issue-free.
• The auto arguably suits the character of the V8 better, but it’s purely a matter of personal taste. Neither type of transmission commands a particular premium over the other. If you go for a manual, do make sure you have an exended test drive in traffic – the clutch is formidably heavy.
• The V8’s substantial kerbweight means suspension bushes wear quickly if the car is driven even moderately quickly – particularly those on the lower rear arms of the front wishbones where braking loads are transferred to the chassis.
• The bushes can be upgraded to later items from the supercharged V8s, a modification that also makes the car more stable under braking.
• The brakes are generally considered marginal for fast road driving, and bigger discs with four-piston calipers are a worthwhile upgrade.
• Some cars have also been fitted with Harvey Bailey handling kits.