The Aston Martin Volante, the exotic brand's first eight-cylinder convertible, makes its long-awaited debut on June 21, 1978, almost nine years after the launch of the DBS V8.
Aston Martin had used the Volante badge — Italian for "flying" — to distinguish its convertible models starting in 1965.
The 5.3-liter V-8 engine produced up to 305 hp and 320 pound-feet of torque.
Convertibles fell out of favor in the 1970s largely because of federal safety requirements, a volatile economy and slumping industry sales and profits.
But Rex Woodgate, Aston Martin's U.S. representative, and Los Angeles dealer Chuck Vandergriff, citing consumer requests, had lobbied for a convertible for several years. They even commissioned automotive artist Dale W. King to produce a rendering of an Aston Martin convertible, according to author David Dowsey's book, Aston Martin: Power Beauty and Soul.
Harold Beach completed the design and engineering of the convertible platform, derived from Aston Martin's AMV8 coupe, by the end of 1976 and consultants Woodall Nicholson finished a prototype in 1977. Extra welds and reinforcements to the side and pillars raised the weight of the Volante to 3,950 pounds. The fully lined power top, with a plastic rear window, was designed by George Moseley, who also created the top for the Rolls Royce Corniche.
The Volante was revised in 1986 and dropped in 1989, and it would be three more years before Aston Martin offered another convertible.