1979 As­ton Martin V8 Volante £175,000

Hav­ing been well cared for and with all the right up­grades, this looks and runs ex­actly the way it should, says Russ Smith

Classic Cars (UK) - - Ads On Test -

You want to see plenty of pa­per­work for an As­ton Martin and this car’s bulging his­tory folder is about three inches thick. It’s stuffed with bills for work car­ried out by AM spe­cial­ists right up to a re­cent ser­vice where the seats were also repadded and re­coloured. The file also de­tails ma­jor ex­pen­di­ture in 2011, af­ter the last of the car’s five own­ers bought it, in­clud­ing re­plac­ing the orig­i­nal au­to­box with a later As­ton’s six-speed man­ual and fit­ting AP Racing brakes. At the same time the speedo (read­ing 44,000 miles) was changed; the new one now reads around 34,000.

The car presents very well with im­mac­u­late Tour­ma­line Blue paint, even panel fit and flaw­less flanks. The chrome is good too, with just some wear to the driver’s door but­ton and peel­ing from one of the fuel fillers, but that’s hid­den un­der a flap. The hood has re­cently been re­placed and has a well-fit­ting cover.

The GKN al­loys are un­marked, hav­ing ob­vi­ously been re­fur­bished not long ago. They wear match­ing Avon Tur­bosteel tyres with good tread and no side­wall crack­ing. The un­der­side looks good, with plenty of shiny bolt heads, new bushes (some polyurethane) and gleam­ing dampers. There’s no sign of cor­ro­sion any­where.

The en­gine bay is tidy, but if you de­mand show stan­dard there’s room for de­tail im­prove­ments. Plenty of shiny clips and bolts – al­ways a good sign – and it has a set of 10mm race-spec HT leads that al­most match the seat pip­ing. No leaks were ev­i­dent and flu­ids were clean and to level.

There’s noth­ing to fault with the re­cent seat re­fur­bish­ment, but the leather on the ob­vi­ously orig­i­nal steer­ing wheel is start­ing to lose its colour and some of the stitch­ing is com­ing apart. Wood ve­neers are mostly good, but there’s a crack in the lac­quer on the pas­sen­ger door and it’s a lit­tle dull around the elec­tric win­dow switches. Those win­dows, by the way, slide up and down smoothly and with­out hes­i­ta­tion. If you want to be re­ally picky, there’s some cor­ro­sion on the ci­garette lighter and some of the switches are fad­ing a bit, but the car­pets are good and the over­all im­pres­sion is of a car that’s been used but looked af­ter.

The tatty orig­i­nal ig­ni­tion key adds a bit of char­ac­ter, but if it both­ers you there’s a new-look­ing spare as well. The en­gine re­sponds in­stantly and shows a healthy 80psi at 3000rpm, drop­ping to 25psi at idle. Wa­ter temp set­tled at 75 de­grees. The en­gine pulls strongly and smoothly though you do get the odd pop from the car­bu­ret­tors on the over-run, but that just makes it sound racey. That six-speed gear­box has a pre­cise and short-throw shift and is a mas­sive im­prove­ment over the auto in most Volantes. I don’t imag­ine any­one will care that it isn’t orig­i­nal.

The ask­ing price is quite stiff for a Volante, but you’ll need to search far and wide for one in bet­ter con­di­tion.

Seats were repadded and re­coloured at the time of the last ser­vice.

The en­gine bay is clean and tidy, al­beit not quite con­cours.

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