2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante
2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Tony Whitney

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Vancouver, British Columbia – The Aston Martin DBS Volante I recently put through its paces is the latest in a long line of highly desirable sports cars from this fabled British automaker that goes way back to the earlier part of the last century.

Over the years, the cars have earned widespread fame (not least in many a James Bond movie) and successive generations have each improved upon the last despite periodic corporate upheavals. The “Aston Martin” name, for those who care about such trivia, came from the marque’s founder Lionel Martin, who attached the prefix “Aston” in honour of the once-famed Aston Clinton hill-climb course on which he raced before and after the First World War.

2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante
2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante
2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante
2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante. Click image to enlarge

The automaker was founded in 1913 as Bamford and Martin and was always involved with sports and racing cars of one kind or another. Many notable successes were recorded by the firm over the years, including victory at LeMans and the World Sports Car Championship in 1959. More recently, class wins have been recorded at Le Mans in various Astons, including production-based models. Wealthy business entrepreneur David (later Sir David) Brown bought the company in 1947 (for less than $50,000!) and the DB of his initials lives on today, even though his involvement ended decades ago and he died in 1993. A long and fruitful period of Ford ownership was followed more recently with the purchase of Aston Martin by a group of private investors.

But enough of history lessons: Bond’s gadget-laden DB5 may have had the firepower of a WW2 fighter-bomber, but the new DBS Volante rivals the best of the best when it comes to performance, handling, refinement and – let’s not forget this – downright luxury.

“Volante” is Aston-speak for convertible and several models in the company’s lineup over the years have boasted this particular badge (though curiously, the current V8 Vantage convertible is dubbed “Roadster”). Getting one point out of the way right from the start, this car does not have one of the increasingly-popular folding hardtops, but uses a powered fabric top, albeit of the finest possible quality. It’s so well crafted and finished that somebody at Aston Martin must have snuck over to one of those megabuck Savile Row tailors in London to get advice on the task. It’s simply that well done and the red fabric on my test car was a great match for the leather upholstery of similar hue. Please don’t talk about “ragtops” with this one, okay?

The bodywork is mostly of aluminum, but there is extensive use of carbon fibre too, some of it visible, some not. The timeless Aston Martin styling that’s pretty well unmistakable has evolved from other models, but it’s evolved with subtlety and good taste. Perhaps it looks a little too much like less expensive Aston Martin models, but few will complain about that – they all look great anyway. It’s also a practical car and reasonably easy to get in and out of – but you’ll probably want to use the tiny rear seats strictly as a place to toss your Louis Vuitton briefcase or Hugo Boss jacket.

Top up or down, the DBS Volante – Aston Martin’s top model which premiered earlier this year at the Geneva Auto Salon – is a head-turner of the first rank, but of course, it looks its best when prepped for a session of wind-in-the-face motoring. The roof hides under a “fifties Mille Miglia-style” sculpted tonneau cover when it’s folded down and it’s only a matter of touching a single button and waiting 14 seconds or so. The job can actually be done while you’re moving as long as you’re not topping 48 km/h.

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