The DBS V12 coupe had been in production for over a year when the Volante version was first shown at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. Whilst the coupe was a direct replacement for the Vanquish S, the DBS Volante represented a combination that AML had not offered for 10 years by putting their most powerful engine in their flagship open car. This isn’t something that AML always offer, but when they do the results are always spectacular and instantly desirable. Who can resist the pull of a DB4 convertible with the GT engine, the late 1980s overly bespoilered V8 Vantage Volante or the super-rare 1999 supercharged Vantage Volante Special Edition. So, the DBS V12 Volante is another shining example of this rare combination.
[Editors note: This article is reprinted with permission from Aston Martin Quarterly magazine and its author Tim Cottingham. Please see full credit in footnote below.]
In the last article covering the coupe car (AM Quarterly, Summer 2018), we noted that DBS production was held back by the ongoing financial crisis. So, you will be unsurprised to hear that DBS Volante production only reached 845 cars in total over three model years (MY). This is not a great number at all as the cars are well spread around the globe making them a rare show at any Club event.
All DBS and DBS Volantes have the letter E in position 12. This is unusual as both before and since, it has been more customary for coupe and Volante derivatives to have different letters in position 12. So, A = DB9 coupe, B = DB9 Volante and so on.
Thus, the way to differentiate between the coupe and Volante VIN is that the coupe has a ‘0’ in position 13 whereas the Volante has a ‘1’. Or to make it easier to understand, E00010 is a coupe, E11213 is a Volante. Except that it’s even not quite that easy either. To begin with, the Geneva launch Volante had a coupe chassis number, E01028 as witnessed at the time. AML records now show it may have subsequently been changed to E11213 prior to sale. Following this, a rare oversight occurred at AML that allowed a further 24 Volantes to be sold with E0****chassis number, all of which were special editions.
All DBS Volante were built with 2 + 2 seating using the standard sports seats as the only option. It was simply not possible to order lightweight seats or 2 + 0 configuration although I have no doubt some cars will have been converted by Works or another coach builder into a pure two-seater. Those back seats are terribly tight so as to be almost superfluous. It’s not just the diminished legroom but shoulder room is tight too.
Hand of Drive
Left-hand drive cars predominate as expected with a split almost identical to the coupe. The split is 323 RHD to 522 LHD (38.2% RHD, the coupe is 36.5% RHD).
Now this is where it starts to get interesting. At launch, the manual transmission was standard fit, the Touchtronic 2 box was a cost extra. By May 2011, whilst the manual gearbox derivative remained available to order, the Touchtronic 2 became the standard transmission and the price of the manual was adjusted upwards to match. We now know that the DBS coupe manual isn’t especially rare; hard to come by certainly, but not especially rare with almost 1000 examples sold. This represents almost 39% of the production run. Manual DBS Volantes are super rare by comparison with only 44 examples delivered worldwide, representing a smidgen over 5% of production.
|Model Year||Touchtronic 2||Manual|
What we found particularly intriguing is the markets these cars were sold to.
The British market was especially strong for the DBS Volante with 276 sold. The second country for sales was North America with 220. But it’s the way each market took to manual cars that is surprising. In Europe, it’s customary to learn to drive in a manual car (stick shift), not everyone does but most people pass their driving tests in a manual. In the USA, folk almost exclusively learn to drive in automatics. Who doesn’t smile at the US internet meme showing a conventional gear stick, promoting it as the ultimate anti-theft device? So how come the USA took 26 manual Volantes and the UK only eight? Even then, the eight UK manuals include four demonstrators built for the launch of the model, leaving only four UK cars with a manual gearbox spec’d by the first owner. The Volante sold well in many countries of mainland Europe with 267 examples, ten with the manual gearbox. The Middle East took only 18 cars (no manuals) and Asia Pacific only 49 cars (one manual).
|Country||DBS Volante sold|
|North America (USA & Canada)||220|
|Rest of the World||15|
Like the model year distribution of the coupe, many more DBS Volantes were sold soon after introduction but, unlike the coupe, the manual cars were more evenly spread through the production run.
|Year||DBS Volante sold|
The sole 2009MY car was the Magma Red launch car unveiled at Geneva. The 2010MY cars were first delivered from the summer of 2009. The 2010.5MY cars delivered from late summer 2009 featured the taller wing mirror design, introduced due to a change in legislation. The 2010.75MY cars were delivered from spring 2010. The 2011MY cars have the desirable glass switchgear fitted as standard and the Enhanced Tyre Pressure Monitoring System was introduced. For 2012MY the DBS received the new Garmin SatNav and the Bosch Beam Blade Windscreen wipers.
The final examples of the DBS Volante were delivered in autumn 2012.
Special and Limited Editions
To celebrate 10 years at the head of Aston Martin, CEO Dr Ulrich Bez commissioned a limited edition to his own personal speciation. The launch UB-2010, showcased at Geneva 2010 and built for Dr Bez himself, was a Volante. It was built to 2010.75MY spec although the remaining 12 production cars were all 2011MY spec. One single manual example was built to European spec. Following the launch car, E11998, the remaining 12 customer cars were sold with E0**** chassis numbers. Once UB-2010 production ended, the colour especially formulated for the car, Azurite Black, eventually became available across the entire AML range to special order.
For the 2010.75MY the special but not limited edition Carbon Black was offered with the Volante coachwork. In total, 87 examples were built with only three with manual transmission, all LHD (US and German markets). Carbon Black cars can be found as 2010.75MY, 2011MY or 2012MY.
Following on from the Carbon Black were the Carbon Editions, again an unlimited special edition with 51 Volantes sold, all 2012MY. Only two were built with manual transmission, both LHD for the US market. Carbon Editions were available with a choice of colour; AML Carbon Black, Flame Orange and Ceramic Grey. The Carbon Edition was the first DBS to feature black bonnet and side strake meshes, as well as a black front grille. The bright front grille was available as a no-cost option whereas the Magnum Silver mesh grilles were a cost option. Like the UB-2010, 12 examples of the Volante were built with E0 chassis numbers.
Exclusively available to the Chinese market, AML offered the Dragon 88 models during 2012. The limited edition was launched at the Beijing Motor Show with a DBS Volante, finished in spectacular Amethyst Red with Spicy Red leather, a car destined to remain unique. All of the remaining DBS Dragon 88 cars were built as coupes. Convertibles are extremely rare in China, possibly due to the air quality in major cities which ranges from unhealthy to hazardous. Whilst Amethyst Red remains available to this day, it remains a rare yet beautiful colour.
The final run out model for the DBS was the Ultimate, a label first used a few years before on the Newport Pagnell built Vanquish S, but this was the first time customers could own an Ultimate Volante. This 2012MY car could be specified with AML Carbon Black (yet again!), Quantum Silver or Silver Fox, all with the number plate surround painted in Carbon Black II with a gloss or satin finish. Forty-one examples of the Ultimate Volante were built for sale in the UK, mainland Europe and the USA. Only two manuals were built, both LHD, US market cars.
As with the Coupe, the most common hue to be found on a DBS Volante is black with 325 examples (38.4% of production), massively skewed by the popular Carbon Black cars. Silver comes second with 277 examples and white grabs third place with 70 cars. Magma Red as seen on the launch car helped to push red above both blue and green up to fourth place with 41 examples.
In total, 54 different colours were applied to the Volante, the most common being AML Carbon black with 149 examples.
I hope that if you were inspired by reading our last article to buy a DBS coupe, you are now not kicking yourself for not waiting to get a Volante instead. It represented for 3 years the absolute pinnacle of the Aston Martin range, that rare combination of exclusivity, power and open coachwork. The manual DBS Volante was almost as scarce as the late 1980’s V8 Vantage Volante Prince of Wales, but who knew?
Credit and Thank You!
I would like to thank Aston Martin Quarterly (AMQ) magazine (David Lewington is the editor) and the author Tim Cottingham for graciously allowing me to reprint this article that originally appear in the AMQ Winter 2018 Edition Volume 52 No 221 Registrar’s Corner feature on pages 8 through 10 (you can find the original magazine format of the article here).
Tim is the Aston Martin Heritage Trust registrar and keeper of the data. Tim also runs the great website AstonMartins.com (that you can find here) that is absolutely a wealth of resource for anyone interested in the marque. When I am on his site hours disappear as I read through the great information and photos. You should definitely check it out.
You can learn more about the AMOC (including how to join) at www.AMOC.org. AMQ magazine is one of the great benefits of membership and you can read more articles like this written by other Aston enthusiasts. I’ve been an AMOC member since I purchased my DB9 and recommend you check it out!