There’s a saying in the south that is a response to someone calling something rare. It goes, “This *blank* is super rare.” “Yeah. Well, the Bubonic plaque is rare too, but no one wants that either.” The point is, rarity alone does not mean valuable. The Aston Martin V8 Volante Zagato is a rare bird indeed. Only 37 of these convertible versions of the V8 Zagato were ever made. Now, I’m not suggesting people don’t want these, because they very much do. However, I am suggesting that just because they are rare and valuable doesn’t mean they can’t also be as ugly as the east end of a horse that’s headed west.
The Aston Martin V8 Zagato is one of the rare bird on its own
Silodrome mentions that the V8 Zagato is a sure rare and famous car on in own rite, but the most famous of them was the converted race car built and raced by actor/comedian Rowan Atkinson. The car saw plenty of track time until it was wrecked. To preserve the hardtop Aston, Atkinson restored it to its original state and put it up.
But the Aston Martin V8 Volante Zagato is one of the rarest cars on earth
The earlier V8 Astons are works of art, truly. By the time the eighties got a hold of them, things had changed a bit. I know the 80s aesthetic is in fashion right now, and people will get mad, but the 1989 V8 Aston Volante Zagatos are ugly. Search your feelings. You know it to be true. Don’t listen to the internet. They are rare and valuable, and maybe even somewhat cool, but they are far from pretty.
Aston Martin had promised the hardtop Zagato buyers exclusivity. After Aston had only sold 52 units, the elitist owners started fussing that too many people were allowed in the club. So Aston came up with a solution; give them a convertible one with a less powerful engine. To make the whiny boys feel better, Aston fitted the new Volante Zagato with a 320-hp V8 instead of the 420-hp V8 in the hardtop version. Even with the less powerful motor, the Volante Zagato could still hit 160 mph.
The convertible Aston was still pretty cool, just ugly
The Volante verison had a few differences than just the roof and engine. The convertible was slightly shorter than the hardtop, and the body was made out of an aluminum alloy. According to Silodrome, the engine was a 5,340cc alloy V8 with double chain-driven overhead camshafts per bank, two valves per cylinder, and a Weber Marelli fuel injection system. Again, this move to placate the hardtop owners didn’t result in a slouchy convertible.
The Convertible Aston became an instant collectible
Aston Martin only made 37 examples of the little ugly duckling. Its scrunched nose and flip lights became an instant hit. Buyers had seen the DB4 GT Zagato collectibility and held on tight to this rare little eyesore.
Can you say “private collection”? Of course, that is where the majority of these cars went. The one pictured here is courtesy of Silodrome and its owner. This must be one of the cleanest, lowest mileage examples there is. It only has 341 miles. Who could blame them? I wouldn’t want to be going to the grocery store in this. (Now I’m just having a little fun with y’all)
It bounced around from collection to collection until it finally went home to the Aston Martin Works to get some heavy restoration done to the tune of 240,000 pounds. The owner changed a few things, though. It is now wearing a different color, got converted from right-hand drive to left-hand drive, and swamped the original three-speed automatic transmission to a modern six-speed manual gearbox.
This is going to the auction block, and no, I will not be bidding, thanks. Aside from all my hating, the restoration looks lovely, and even if it’s lipstick on a pig, the lipstick is nice.