Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bonham's ~ RARE 1967 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage Volante with Provenance

Lot 341
Lot 341
One of only 29 DB6 Vantage Volantes, formerly owned/used by conductor Leonard Bernstein
1967 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage Volante
Chassis no. DBVC/3610/R
Engine no. 400/2982/V
3,996cc DOHC aluminum inline six-cylinder engine
Trip 45DCOE Weber carburetors
325bhp at 5,750rpm
Five-speed ZF manual transmission
Independent front suspension and live rear axle with four-wheel coil springs
Four-wheel hydraulic servo-assisted Girling disc brakes

-Rare model specification
-Noted previous ownership history
-Manual transmission

The DB6 Vantage Volante

'I have driven most of the Aston Martin models that have been produced, from the racing twin-cam 1½-litre of the 1920s onwards. For years my favourite has been the DB3S sports-racer, but now my allegiance is wavering. There can be little doubt that the DB6 is the best Aston yet and it is a credit to British engineering.' - John Bolster, Autosport, 21st October 1966. 

Like this car, John Bolster's 1966 test car was a Vantage model, which despite its heightened state of tune surprised the veteran journalist with its good road manners: 'on taking over the DB6 one is immediately astonished by its flexibility. In spite of multiple carburetor chokes, it will idle through traffic like a dowager's limousine and will accelerate on a high gear in a manner which is rare even among the biggest V8 power units.' 

April 29, 2011 reminded the world of the sheer elegance and style of the first Aston to be named Volante, when H.R.H. The Prince of Wales' DB6 swept up London's Mall carrying his newly married son and daughter-in-law, William and Kate. The light hearted stunt was beamed around the globe, and instantly created a challenge for the DB5's most desirable Aston Martin crown.

To some, the DB6 is considered to be the last 'real' Aston Martin. Launched in 1965, although Royal patronage of the marque undoubtedly helped DB6 sales, the car arrived at a difficult time for Aston Martin, with the home economy in a parlous state and the US market subject to ever-more restrictive legislation. 

Though recognizably related to its touring-styled DB4 ancestor, the DB6 abandoned the underlying Superleggera body structure of its predecessors in favor of a conventional steel fabrication while retaining the aluminum outer panels. Somewhat confusingly, 'Superleggera' badges continued to be applied for a time, presumably until stocks ran out. 

The wheelbase was now 4" (100mm) longer than before, resulting in an extensive restyle with a more-raked windscreen, raised roofline and reshaped rear quarter windows. Opening front quarter lights made a reappearance but the major change was at the rear where a Kamm-style tail with spoiler improved the aerodynamics, greatly enhancing stability at high speeds. "The tail lip halves the aerodynamic lift around maximum speed and brings in its train greater headroom and more luggage space," declared The Motor magazine, concluding that the DB6 was one of the finest sports cars it had ever tested. 

The Tadek Marek designed six-cylinder engine had been enlarged to 3,995cc for the preceding DB5 and remained unchanged. Power output on triple SU carburetors was 282bhp, rising to 325bhp in Vantage specification. Borg-Warner automatic transmission was offered alongside the standard ZF five-speed gearbox, and for the first time there was optional power-assisted steering. 

Premiered at the 1965 London Motor Show, in choosing the name 'Volante' the convertible DB6 echoed the famed touring design of the early 1950s, the 'Disco Volante' Alfa Romeo, its literal translation being 'flying saucer'. This evocative name has stayed with the brand since. After 37 Volante convertibles had been completed on the DB5 short-wheelbase chassis, the model adopted the longer DB6 chassis in October 1966. The stylish Volante offered four-seat accommodation and was generously appointed with leather upholstery, deep-pile carpets, aircraft-style instrument cluster and an electrically operated hood.

If there could be anything better than the name 'Volante' associated with an Aston, it is the second 'V' of Vantage, which on a DB6 provided a 20% bump in power to 325bhp. 

The Motorcar Offered

Prince Charles has had the luxury of his Volante since his 21st birthday. What is perhaps overlooked is that only 139 other individuals shared the fortune of having been an original owner of one of these famed automobiles, and of those, just 29 received them in the higher, Vantage state of tune, making this an exceedingly rare automobile.

On its build sheet, the record states that chassis DBVC/3610/R was originally supplied in the U.K. to B.M. Lee of Hadleywood in April 1967. As delivered, it had the options of 3.73:1 limited slip differential, chrome wire wheels with three ear knock-off hub caps, and a power aerial and was finished in Dubonnet paint with a fawn interior. 

The original build sheet for the car records two further British owners, the first of whom was S. Newman of the architecture practice Newman Levison & Co. In this ownership it wore the license plate 'SN 15'. The next was simply listed as the 'London Symphony Orchestra' in London's Montagu Street. Although not mentioned by name, it is known that the person to whom the car was actually for use was famed conductor Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein began his association with the London Symphony Orchestra around this time in 1966, and would remain close to this organization throughout his life, acting as its president from 1987-1990. It is not known how long he would have owned or had use of the car.

The Volante was acquired by its former owner in London in 1991, at which time it had received a restoration and was put in the same color scheme that it wears today. The buyer shipped the car to the U.S. and over the course of the next two decades campaigned it on a variety of road tours, including the Copper State 1000 and Colorado Grand, while also showing it at Concours level. 

Today the car presents extremely well, having been re-shod with the correct gauge of tires which enhances its overall authenticity and aesthetics. The car has recently also been fully serviced by an Aston Martin Heritage Specialist. 

With manual transmission, Vantage engine and a new convertible top, there can't be a better or more stylish way of appreciating the summer months.
US$ 800,000 - 900,000

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