Aston Martin’s DB11 Volante is finally upon us and we’re reminded of just how great they are at dropping the top. It’s a hefty responsibility given their coupes are widely regarded as some of the most beautiful cars on sale.
They’ve more or less always nailed it, though. It’s in their DNA for, since the days of the DB5 one of the coolest names in motoring has sat atop the rump of Aston’s finest sun-seekers. Not all of Aston’s coolest drop-tops are Volantes, though. Here’re our top 5 drop-top Astons from their recent history…
Zagato Vanquish Roadster Concept
You’ve been able to buy an alfresco Vanquish for a few years now. The S version has getting on for 600bhp. The first Vanquish to drop its top, however, was never actually sold. Nor was it called Volante. The Zagato Vanquish Roadster Concept of 2004 made an absolute jaw-dropper out of what we already think is one of the prettiest Astons of modern memory. That is by rights verging on an improvement on perfection. Unlike many of Aston’s bold Zagato models, the comparatively subtle Vanquish was never intended for production. At the time Zagato referred to it as an Aston-sanctioned “provocation”. Interestingly, there’s no mention of it on Aston’s website, even in the bumf for the new production-approved Zagato Vanquishes, with the DB7 and Vantage Zagatos getting the name-drops as recent Zagato models.
CC100 Speedster Concept
The CC100 Speedster concept of 2013 trades provocation for evocation, presented by Aston as both a 100th birthday present to itself and a visual tribute to the DBR1 racer. Based on the V12 Vantage but wearing hints to future styling cues, we reckon this stunning creation could have lent some of its features to a late-life facelift for the ageing Vantage. Nevertheless, CC100 remains one of Aston’s coolest open-topped cars and certainly one of the rarest.
Vantage GT12 Roadster
Not rarer than this, though. The Vantage GT12 Roadster, while resembling a convertible version of an (albeit limited) production car, is unique: a commission, the price for which we can only scarcely imagine. For all intents and purposes, it is exactly what a production GT12 Roadster would be had Aston decided to make it – blood-curdling V12 and all. We were rather taken by it when it wowed the crowds at FOS 2016.
As above, the DB7 Z seems to all appearances to be a Zagato Aston is somewhat more proud of. That it was actually sold sets it above the original Vanquish in some sense. The unique steel body-shell of the DB7 Z coupe made it a Euro-only car, falling short of US type-approval. If anything that only strengthened demand in the States for a Zagato-bodied machine. Enter the DBAR1 – an open-lidded Zagato DB7 based on the pre-approved DB7 Volante Chassis. It featured the same Zagato “mouth” and shapely hips while the deck haunches were a call-back to the double bubble of the coupe. The 440bhp version of the V12 was shirked in favour of the standard Vantage lump, with the much-maligned Touchtronic transmission sitting in place of the manual. A stunning machine. We wonder if the DB11 Volante might underpin some such coach-built special in years to come?
Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante LWB
We had to have at least one actual Volante in this list, didn’t we? And why not the one pushing 2012 Vanquish power levels some 20 years before? Can you imagine 550bhp in 1992, in something that looks like the old V8 Vantage? Can you imagine that coming from a twin-supercharged V8? It couldn’t be further from its modern-day sinewy sexy sportscar namesake but that makes it no less cool. What a gloriously decadent and muscular lump of pig iron it is.
Honourable mentions to the slews of classic DBs and Vantages that won Aston its reputation for a delectable drop-top, as well as 2012’s V12 Vantage Roadster, of which there were only 100 made. What's your pick of Aston's extensive convertible catalogue?