With the introduction of the Vantage Zagato in 1986, Aston Martin renewed its association with one of Italy’s most illustrious carrozzerie, the latter having been responsible for that most celebrated and desirable of all post-war Aston Martins, the DB4GT Zagato. The first Vantage Zagato prototype was shown to the public at Geneva in March 1986, and in June successfully met its design target by achieving a maximum speed of 186 mph while on test with the French magazine Sport Auto.
Part of Zagato’s brief had been to shed some of the standard Vantage’s avoirdupois, and this was achieved by the simple expedient of shortening the wheelbase by a little over 17 centimeters and deleting the rear seats, thus creating Aston’s first production two-seater since the DB4GT. The 5.3-liter four-cam V8 was, naturally, to Vantage specification, producing a mind-bending 432 bhp at 6200 rpm. The manner of installation, though, created a certain amount of controversy. The Zagato’s low, sloping hood, designed to cover a fuel-injected engine, was marred by an unsightly bulge necessary to clear the Vantage’s quartet of Weber carburetors.
Predictably, given the success of the coupe and the premiums desperate buyers were paying over the $171,808 list price to obtain one, a Zagato Volante convertible was not long in coming. The first example was exhibited in 1987. Intended only for the fuel-injected 320 bhp engine, the Volante avoided its sibling’s hood bulge unless, of course, a customer specified an engine in Vantage tune. Re-styled, the Volante’s rather bland frontal grille was not to everyone’s taste, and a number of cars were fitted with Vantage front ends by the factory.