Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 139

1966 Aston Martin Short-Chassis Volante

  • Chassis no. DB5C/2301/L
  • Engine no. 400/2292

Sold for $1,705,000


Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

Est. 350 bhp, 4,500 cc DOHC Vantage-specification inline six-cylinder engine with triple Weber twin-choke 45DCOE carburetors, five-speed Tremec manual gearbox, rack-and-pinion steering, dual-system Girling disc brakes, independent front suspension with upper/lower A-arms, coil springs and anti-roll bar, live rear axle with Watts linkage, radius rods and coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 98 in.

  • The most desirable touring Aston Martin of its decade
  • The very first example of 37 built; the most rare convertible Aston model
  • Matching-numbers original engine – professionally upgraded to Vantage specification
  • High-quality restoration by renowned marque specialists Steel Wings
  • Sympathetic mechanical upgrades for thrilling driving
  • A seldom-seen opportunity


It is a remarkable story but true: that one of the most desirable Aston Martins ever built began as a way for the factory to use up its leftovers.

As production of the new DB6 got underway in October 1965, the factory was left with 37 of the previous DB5 chassis that had remained unbuilt and unused. Featuring a sportier shorter wheelbase than its successor DB6, the chassis were unusable for the new model, but Aston management thought that they could be the basis of a striking “interim” convertible, essentially the last of the DB5Cs with all of the DB6’s numerous refinements and marketed alongside their new DB6.

The result was dubbed by factory man Kent Monk the Volante, or “Flying,” the first Aston to use this name to distinguish their convertibles and roadsters, and since used on every open production car since. And so is the story of the birth of the Short Chassis Volante, as distinguished from the longer DB6 and DB6 Mk II successor Volantes. The car featured the race-proven all-alloy, twin-cam straight-six powerplant, in original 4.0-liter form, with triple SU carburetors, and originally rated at 282 brake horsepower at 5,500 rpm.

Bodywork was produced using Touring’s patented Superleggera process, of wrapping handcrafted alloy panels around an open lattice of small-diameter steel tubing, for featherlight but rigid coachwork. Aside from its obviously more sporting proportions, the Short Chassis Volante was visually distinct from the earlier DB5 convertible by the DB6-specification quarter bumpers on all four corners, “adding lightness.” The taillight treatment was unique to the model, neither DB5 nor DB6, creating an attractive finishing point, set off by this first use of the “Volante” logo on the rear deck lid. The interior featured the expected high level of comfort and finish, including Connolly leather, stitched in the V-pattern introduced for the DB6, while the lined convertible top was made of high-quality Everflex and pebble-grain vinyl, as was used by Rolls-Royce.

As production of the Short-Chassis Volante was strictly limited by the number of leftover DB5 chassis available, only 37 were made, making this the lowest-production convertible Aston Martin ever. The survivors are quite highly prized and are justifiably considered the most desirable of all touring Astons, held in treasured esteem by enthusiasts worldwide.

CHASSIS NUMBER DB5C/2301/L

As the very first of the 37 Short-Chassis Volantes built, chassis number DB5C/2301/L retains its correct DB5C (DB5 Convertible) chassis number. (The designation later to appear in a factory record as DBVC/2301/LN – the prefix used for the 36 Short Chassis Volantes to follow. The “N” suffix, first used with the introduction of the DB6 range, indicates the fitment of factory air conditioning, N or “Normalaire.”) It is an original factory left-hand-drive car from new, delivered to Mr. David Davies of Park Avenue, New York City, in Dubonnet over black. Mr. Davies, later created Sir David, was and remains a well-known British financier and philanthropist, noted for his relationships with socialites such as Christine Onassis; at the time of his acquisition of this car, he was married to financial heiress Deborah Loeb.

More latterly, starting in the 1990s, the car was the prized possession of Aston Martin Owners Club (AMOC) North America stalwart Vincent Young, a noted perfectionist, who placed it with the renowned marque specialists Steel Wings of Ivyland, Pennsylvania, for a comprehensive restoration to the top specification conceivable.

In a recent telephone conversation with RM Sotheby’s Research & Editorial staff, Steel Wings principal Jon Clerk noted that in their care it was cosmetically restored, both inside and out, with bodywork refinished in the unmistakable Aston Racing Green and an interior in beautiful butterscotch tan leather, and also completely rebuilt mechanically.

Mr. Clerk is a highly respected engine builder. To increase power without compromising drivability, he had the cylinders overbored to 4.5 liters of displacement, with new pistons and camshafts, and upgraded beyond the most desirable factory Vantage specification, including the installation of the expected triple Weber carburetors. An original ZF five-speed transmission was replaced with a Tremec five-speed gearbox, a swap that Steel Wings heartily endorses. Further, Steel Wings supplied its own proven, high-quality suspension kit, used to upgrade the springs with better ratios for improved stability at speed, Koni shock absorbers, and a more robust front anti-roll bar for more sporting yet still supple handling. A contemporary Sony radio provides happy tunes for summer days. Modern, period-look air conditioning was also specified, as the factory-supplied units are considered woefully inadequate, and completes this desirable package.

Following conclusion of the restoration, Mr. Young used the car with pleasure in AMOC North America events and concours d’elegance, where it received special Club awards. It was eventually acquired by Orin Smith and has remained a treasured favorite, used for driving with pride, while remaining a prominent cornerstone in his collection ever since. The restoration remains thoroughly satisfying cosmetically, with fine paintwork; it was done properly and well, and that still shows today, with the only signs being minor road wear and stretching to the upholstery as expected from occasional use. It is accompanied by a Volante instruction book, and at the time of cataloguing showed a recorded 10,437 miles.

The opportunity to acquire a Short-Chassis Volante is extraordinarily rare. This marks a new owner’s chance to become a member of a very small crowd of connoisseurs – and to own and enjoy the very first “SCV” ever built.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more