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SPRING 2020

Nicholas Mee & Co’s world of Aston Martin

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Front cover image: Aston Martin V8 Vantage V550

Nicholas Mee & Co Ltd Essendonbury Farm Hatfield Park Estate Hatfield

Contacts

Hertfordshire

T: +44 (0)208 741 8822

AL9 6AF

info@nicholasmee.co.uk

United Kingdom

http://www.nicholasmee.co.uk

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MEE SPEAK Nick welcomes in the Roaring Twenties with some confidence, encouraging us all to use our Astons the way the designers intended. POWER CORRUPTS Understanding the supercharged V8 Vantages. Adding two superchargers to the mighty V8 might have sounded like the wrong approach; “Bring it on,” said Aston Martin enthusiasts… MARKET REVIEW The team look back at what happened in the market last year, feeling that, post-election, 2020 is kicking off with a buzz in the air. GET OUT AND DRIVE: 20 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR ASTON IN 2020 From a relaxed day in the New Forest to a spirited tour of Scotland’s North Coast 500, we’ve picked the best events for you and your Aston to enjoy this year. YOU CAN BE A HERO… NOT ONLY JUST FOR ONE DAY FullBore spoke to Christian von Sanden of HERO Events about the burgeoning regularity rally scene, and what it takes to get car and driver/navigator fully prepared for this absorbing and addictive sport. THE NEW TESTAMENT – ASTON MARTIN V8 1969-2000 A definitive new book from Palawan charts the story of the Newport Pagnell V8. Who better to tell FullBore readers all about it than author Russell Hayes? WHAT’S IN STOCK As always, an Aston to suit every pocket and this time there’s something of a coup for the NM&Co team as a very special Lagonda is listed for sale. SOME WORDS FROM THE WORKSHOP! Service & Aftercare manager Chris Green brings FullBore readers up to speed on what has been a very busy winter so far and gives his thoughts on the motoring season ahead.

© Nicholas Mee & Co Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the copyright owner. Creative Director: Adrian Morley, www.theseen.design 3


MEE S P EA K 2020 Vision Welcome to a new year and a new decade! In this first FullBore issue of the ’20s, distributed to over 6,000 subscribers, we bring you up-to-date news, features, dates for your diary and comment on our favourite marque. Filled with optimism for the Roaring Twenties, it is refreshing to enter this new decade with a new government and somewhat clearer picture of the road ahead: historically low bank interest rates, an administration that believes in business and, thankfully, no threat of a high tax/hard left government. All are factors which will have their role to play over the coming months in the rebuilding of confidence in all markets. Interesting features in this issue include insight from Christian von Sanden of HERO Events, the people behind well-known classic car regularity rallies such as Le Jog. Well organised and firmly established, events run by HERO are a great way to enjoy your car in the company of like- minded owners. Renowned author Russell Hayes, whose latest book, The Aston Martin V8: 1969 – 2000 was recently published by award-winning publishers Palawan Press, speaks to FullBore with the story behind the mammoth task of writing the definitive work that covers 31 years of V8-engined cars built by hand at Newport Pagnell. The comprehensive volume features an insightful foreword by Rowan Atkinson, has multiple interviews with management and employees from the day and is filled with a healthy dose of memories of the trials

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and tribulations of those years. Hats off to Russell; the book communicates the whole story, as only a former journalist can tell it. It is a must-have for enthusiasts of the marque and model. We hope that this year’s market review – a reflection of spending days at the showroom coalface – will provide interesting reading. Factors beyond our control have distorted our market over the last four to five years and changes are palpably afoot, with 13 December 2019 seemingly being the day the starting flag dropped. Before scrolling to our stock page, and apart from other features, we have produced a useful list of FullBorerecommended, ‘20 Things to do with your Aston in 2020’. And, for anyone thinking of a new car for the new decade, we hope you’ll find our selection of exceptional cars both interesting and diverse. There’s something there for all budgets. We hope you enjoy this latest issue. Should you have any suggestions or content for the future, as always, we’d be pleased to hear from you. Best wishes,


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Power corrupts Words

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Paul Hardiman

Understanding the supercharged V8 Vantages

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Adding two superchargers to the mighty V8 might have sounded like the wrong approach; bring it on, said Aston Martin enthusiasts.

Adding two superchargers to the mighty V8 might have sounded like the wrong approach; bring it on, said Aston Martin enthusiasts. There ain’t no substitute for cubic inches, the Americans say – something Aston’s 5,340cc V8 wasn’t short of in the first place. But supercharging has the effect of making an engine think it’s several sizes bigger – without the attendant lag of turbocharging. “That was a Victor thing,” says Nicholas Mee, referring to Aston Martin’s former owner and saviour Victor Gauntlett, who originally sanctioned the Vantage project in 1990. “He liked supercharging, preferring it’s linear delivery of power to the sudden boost of turbocharging. At the end of development, the supercharged V8 was the most powerful automotive engine, with world-market certification.” First shown at Birmingham in September 1992, the new Vantage was developed from the Virage, the

car that had been the sensation of the Birmingham Motor Show four years previously. Visually, only the roof, doors and mirrors were shared. The differences are everywhere: a tidier six-headlight front end; sculpted arches and shaped boot lid; four grapefruitsized taillights; 18in wheels over enormous 14in brakes. Under the skin there was more: new suspension architecture, interior and electronics, plus over 200bhp added to the already useful 320bhp output of the 32-valve Virage. Meaning, as one observer memorably put it, this power station of an engine could hurl the heavily reworked two-ton coupé down the road like it was a feather. Aston Martin built just 280 of these evocative machines, including the 40 Le Mans editions before ending production altogether. Today, they cost less than you might think.

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Vantage Retrospectively tagged V550. Aston’s long-lived fourcam V8, by now with four-valve heads developed by Reeves Callaway for the Virage, was a stout thing, but twin Eaton superchargers plus a stronger block and Cosworth pistons upped maximum power to 550bhp. Just as impressive was the torque, 555lb ft at 4,000 rpm. The 0-60 sprint took just 4.6 seconds – as quick as a Cobra – with top speed somewhere over 180mph. All were built as six-speed manuals. If you wanted an automatic you could take the car back to Works Service (now Aston Martin Works) to have it changed, as many cars have now been.

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Vantage V600 If 550bhp and a matching amount of torque wasn’t enough, Aston Martin offered a new initiative from 1998: customer cars could be returned to Works Service for conversion to V600 specification where the engine was upgraded to 600bhp at 6,200rpm and 600lb ft torque at 4,400 rpm. That came from reprogrammed electronics, revised pulleys to spin the blowers faster (thus generating more boost) and a more efficient charge-cooling system. Most were converted to a five-speed transmission and wore fivespoke Dymag alloys over larger brakes and revised springs and damping. Around 90 were made and there won’t be any more, as Aston Martin Works has ceased to offer the upgrade.

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Vantage Le Mans There was one last hurrah for the long-lived V8 coupÊ. Honouring the company’s 1959 overall victory at Le Mans, Aston built a limited run of 40 specialedition cars, with the prototype presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1999, three months shy of the 40th anniversary of the win. Each Le Mans was made to order, carrying its number on a specially commissioned sill plaque. Spot one by the twin-snout front grille and modified side vents replicating those on the DBR1, as well as a larger front spoiler, bonnet vent, side sills and rear skirt. Inside, a gigantic rev-counter set off a unique-to-theedition set of instruments, fixtures and fittings. Each car came with a detailed route map from NewportPagnell to Le Mans and a Maglite fitted in the glove box. Claimed top speed was now 199mph, with 0-60mph in four seconds aided by now-standard traction control.

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Short Chassis Vantage Volante, and the Specials After years of customer requests, in 2000 nine supercharged convertibles were commissioned by AM Works against VIP customer orders, continuing the use of the name first seen on the DB6 Volante. One of these was on the long-wheelbase chassis of the V8 Volante, the remainder on the shorter chassis of the coupé. Each was built to the individual specifications of the customer. Not as well-known are the handful of special Vantages built for a significant Far Eastern collection. In the late 1990s, Aston Martin’s coachbuilt programme offered a number of one-offs and limited-editions: three Type 1 four-door Vantage V550 saloons were built, plus three Type 2 V600 four-door saloons with slightly different styling, all of them right-hand drive automatics. Additionally, there were three Vantage Special Series 1s with Zagato-esque single-headlight styling and DB7 doors allowing frameless windows – again, all RHD and V600 automatics – plus three Series 2s with twin headlights and DB4-type bonnet scoops. Last was the AM3 by Pininfarina, of which three were thought to have been built, plus the three-off AM4 with DB7-like styling, none of which have ever been seen in public. Confused, well it seems very unlikely that these cars will be seen for many years, but let the record show!

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How they were made Like the Virage and its predecessor, the V8, these cars were built by traditional craftsmen at Tickford Street in Newport Pagnell – some of the last cars to be made there – in a factory that opened as Salmons Coachworks in 1830 and finished building the last original V12 Vanquish in 2007. Formed using traditional skills, the aluminium skin was rolled and beaten by hand and attached to a steel superstructure set on a platform chassis. Inside, sumptuous leather and wood interiors were hand-finished, each car subtly different according to owners’ bespoke requests. The engine was a development of the long-lived Tadek Marek-designed four-cam all-aluminium V8 and, as with the earlier V8s, each one bears a plaque identifying who built it. The big visible difference here is the finned Eaton blowers high on each side of the motor. Back on the dashboard, the boost gauge says ‘supercharged’ just to remind you… Here’s Steve Cropley with an affectionate look at Newport Pagnell and the Vantage:

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W hat y ou need to know : The nuts and bolts of the supercharged Vantages

Numbers Total production of the supercharged Vantage coupé reached 233 examples. Of these, 136 were right-hand drive and sold in the UK, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Brunei. The remaining 97 left-hand drive cars went to mainland Europe, the Middle East, Japan and South Africa. The Vantage was not homologated for sale in North America although it can now be imported on restrictive ‘Show and Display’ status. In addition, there were, of course, 40 Le Mans and six coachbuilt Works Service four-door saloons, all of which used the same 70*** chassis number sequence. There are also five known DP2055 prototypes of which three are believed to have survived.

Cibié headlights were no longer available, these were replaced by round, projector-style lights. From 70171 the Citroën CX door mirrors were replaced by new units from the Jaguar XK8. Also, the engine designation received a ‘/R’ to signify a revised engine management system to limit emissions further. From chassis 70173, the exhaust was changed to a type with a new, larger-capacity transverse rear silencer. In order to clear the new silencer, these later cars have a shallower bootwell. Chassis number 70194, and from 70198 onwards, had revised door handles and locks sourced from the Ford Mondeo.

Colours Driving impressions Two shades predominate. The 1992 launch car was painted in what appeared to be Aston Martin Racing Green, so it will come as no surprise that 95 other examples were delivered in various shades of green. The second most popular colour was blue, with 72 cars. Key updates

It’s a muscular car in appearance, though time and the fact that cars have grown larger more recently have seemingly shrunk the big coupé to more manageable proportions today. It’s not intimidating to place, but its authoritatively weighty footprint and sheer grunt mean you know you have charge of one.

From chassis 70091 (RHD) and 70064 (LHD) the top of the centre console – which had until this point only housed three instrument dials, a voltmeter, fuel gauge and oil temperature gauge – had the addition of an analogue clock. From chassis 70112, as the square

Power and the command of it is what it’s about, and in this respect the supercharged V-cars are spiritual successors to a Blower Bentley. There’s no waiting for a turbo to spool up or having to wind a peakier engine to its power and torque band: you just plant it and it goes,

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T h e l o w - d o w n c o u r t e s y o f A s t o n M a r t i n H e r i t a g e T r u s t R e g i s t r a r T i m C o t t i ng h a m

delivering a relentless push in a very linear fashion. In this respect, the automatic transmission suits a V-car well; there’s no shortage of torque, and the cushioning in the driveline certainly helps the driver in the real world of traffic and stop-start journeys. You can’t resist flooring it on clear stretches, though. The blowers whine with rising revs and the nose lifts slightly, sighting down the resonating bonnet louvres as if you were aiming a P-47 Thunderbolt down the runway at Westhampnett. It’s an appeal that never quite wears off however many times you repeat it. Conversely, it’s a superb and tall-geared cruiser, able to despatch many hundreds of miles without the occupants noticing, pummelling road imperfections into insignificance. The Vantage today: Nick puts some skin on the bone “An anachronism in its day, the supercharged Vantage as envisioned by AML Chairman and CEO Victor Gauntlett (before the Ford Motor Company took control) was to be a new car, built in the spirit of the legendary Le Mans Blower Bentley of the 1930s – another seemingly anachronistic design. “Therein lies the fascination with this car. Unlike the small and lightweight Bugattis of the 1930s against which the Cricklewood company raced at Le Mans, Bentley’s 4.5-litre supercharged heavyweights, referred to by Ettore Bugatti as ‘the fastest lorries on earth’, are

now the Holy Grail of serious car collectors. “A supercharged Vantage is no lorry, but the similarities of the Vantage in comparison with its Ferrari or Porsche peers in period are obvious. The most powerful of the Marek V8-engined cars, these wonderful machines are also the most refined and have an abundance of that special hand-built quality, all from the craftsmen and engineers whose skills were honed over 40+ years at the now demolished Newport Pagnell factory. “Having covered thousands of miles in Vantages, in relaxed comfort and at high speeds, for me there is no contemporary to the supercharged V8 that combines the comfort, performance and satisfaction of these commanding cars. “Anachronistic cars of this type exist in tiny numbers: there was little use for them as an everyday means of transport. Manufacturers design and build cars to sell in reasonable volume, after all. The supercharged Vantage is unequivocally not a car in that mould. Fortunately, though, the cars were built and do still exist. Just maybe our lives are a little richer and the roads more interesting for that. “With limited availability and increasing appeal to the newer generation of classic car buyer, we believe interest in this model will continue to increase, and thus support the rising values we are seeing today. Last word goes to Jeremy Clarkson in this period Top Gear review.”

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Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante Special Edition

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Aston Martin Vanquish S


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M ARKET

REV I EW

M a r k e t c o mm e n t a r y p r o v i d e d by : N icholas M ee , M anaging D irector , N eal G arrard , C ommercial D irector and Steve Wakefield, Classic Car Journalist and Editor of K500.com

2020 kicks off with a buzz in the air Looking Back There’s no doubt that 2019 was a momentous year for Great Britain. Political turbulence and uncertainty spread into every corner of public life: business decisions and big-ticket purchases put on hold, the pound weak and the market for classic Aston Martins subdued after the 2010 to 2015 boom. Five years after the beginning of an across-the-board plateau in prices, and with last December’s general election over, the air is clearer now and a level of certainty is returning to UK markets. With interest rates remaining at all-time lows, asset-class investments will, in all likelihood, gain some traction. In addition to their continuing favourable tax position, the enthusiasm for genuinely classic cars is strengthening, A plethora of classic car events have mushroomed in the intervening period, which prove once again the status of classics as a means of enjoying life and celebrating cars. Whether now is the time to add an Aston Martin to your garage we’ll address shortly. But first a few words from Nick, when asked to comment on the performance of our favourite cars at public auction over the last 12 months. “Auction figures realised for collectable Astons during 2019 and prior to that have been disproportionately affected by three factors, all of which have contributed to a perceived – but not necessarily true – downturn in values of cars.

“First, the uncertainties precipitated by Brexit affected confidence in bidders at UK and European auctions across all marques, including, Ferrari, Porsche, Bentley etc. Aston Martin is, of course, not immune. “Secondly, the dominant market for classic Aston Martins is now not necessarily the UK. Dealers in mainland Europe and the USA have been very active, particularly for LHD cars. Way more than most other brands, until the 2000s Aston Martin was predominantly a maker of RHD cars, with only 20 - 25% built in LHD and exported – unlike Jaguar and Ferrari, whose production has always been predominantly left-hand drive. The legacy of this is that overseas buyers purchasing in the UK had to be prepared to accept RHD cars to drive in LHD territories, knowing crucially that they could return them to the UK for resale as necessary. In recent years, buyers’ concerns over potential import taxes when returning those cars to the UK post-Brexit have impacted, with many a European buyer holding back until there is some clarity on post-Brexit regulations. “This rings true for any RHD car, but with the scarcity of older LHD Aston Martins the impact has been felt harder than in other marques. Now with some certainty on life after Brexit, I see these worries receding. “Last but by no means least has been the steady release during the last couple of years (at auction and through

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some dealers) of poor-quality cars from a single Middle Eastern collection. Very often without correct paperwork or ‘matching numbers’, and little to no history documents, many are liable to import tax if registered in the EU. They are often also badly prepared, to standards unacceptable in today’s market. Sometimes described as ‘having had a restoration by the factory’, quite a few have not actually been ‘restored’, just inspected and having some recommissioning work. This minefield has caused a dragging effect on the heritage Aston Martin market, which cannot be underestimated. “Fortunately, this supply is now to some degree diminished and the distorting effects, correspondingly so.

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“Before being tempted, buyers should make use of the network of helpful specialists before finding out too late that the dream car at an affordable price is, in reality, a nightmare waiting to unfold. “Conversely, if evidence was needed of the strength of heritage Aston Martins, two determined bidders at a recent auction took the price of an original Bond film DB5 all the way to $6.385m including premium. There’s little-to-no doubting the brand’s following and commitment from classic car investors, regardless of market adjustments.”


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Looking Forward We can learn from what’s happened to other marques, says Neal, who speaks from the coalface. “Take a name like Ferrari. Values for older, more traditional pre-’80s V12s have softened, yet younger enthusiasts are steadily building collections of ‘bestof-the-best’ more recent cars. We know of multi-car garages that contain a 360 Stradale, a 430 Scuderia and a 458 Speciale, for example – three limited-edition, midengined and naturally-aspirated V8s. Ferrari will always build very fast cars, but it won’t produce these types of car ever again. Now automated, hybridised and electric new-technology vehicles invade their space and they will never offer the same interactive thrill and driving experience as before.

“You can look at Porsches and see the same thing happening: multi-car garages of more recent cars. All the recent GT3 RS cars for example, from 996 to 992. “Here at Essendonbury Farm we’ve seen similar evidence: collections of limited-edition Astons on DB9 and the V8 Vantage platforms, as well as the ‘Ultimates’, a personal favourite. As an example, if you are a DBS enthusiast, you might want a UB-2010 edition DBS in your collection. Limited to 40 cars (20 coupés and 20 Volantes), all were signed off by the man who took Aston Martin into the 21st century with a great mix of cars. There are several limited-edition, New Era cars to choose from.

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Aston Martin V8

“Do ask us for advice. If you don’t know your N400s from your N420s, N430s and AMRs, we’re here to help. By producing buyers’ guides, as we did for the V12 Vantage in last summer’s FullBore, we’re injecting some clarity into all the special editions that sometimes present a confusing picture. Clarity equals confidence, equals greater demand, with a subsequent increase in values. Buyers are generally willing to invest in a ‘known quantity’. See our comments on the Newport Pagnell V8 family later in this piece. “Sales rates have been slower for most of last year, that’s true. But that’s been more due to lack of confidence preelection than prices. Since the day after the election, 13 December 2019, things have been changing rapidly. We were closed over the Christmas period, but one

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impassioned client had travelled up from the New Forest on family business. Stopping near us, he called to a view a car. Having opened up for him specially, he now has a lovely Aston Martin V8 in his garage and we have a very good trade-in. That’s probably not something that would have happened mid-year; after a viewing the likely response would have been a ‘let me think on this’.” Something else to think on. The attractive finance deals on new cars being pushed by main dealers have led many new car buyers into hair-raising finance deals, with one customer of an ‘unregulated finance agreement’ hitting the tabloid press last year. On that occasion, the buyer became liable for not only massive new car depreciation but having to double his monthly payments at the end of the two-year fixed term. He couldn’t even hand the keys back at the end of the fixed


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Aston Martin DBS ‘Carbon Edition’

term without making a significant payment way over its market value, all because of deprecation! Contrast that level of depreciation with buying even an eight-to-ten-year-old New Era Aston Martin on, say, a Classic & Sports Finance agreement. The ‘big hit’ of newcar depreciation is by then history. Purchasing a welllooked-after and still fabulous-looking car, say eight, nine or ten years old with low mileage, there is little to no depreciation to factor into a finance agreement as the car has probably reached the bottom of its depreciation cycle. Cosset it, enjoy its performance and the pleasure it brings. It will become an asset, possibly an appreciating one – but definitely not lose its value in the same manner as new cars do.

Something else to consider are ’70s and ’80s AM V8s. The recent publication of a limited-edition book from Palawan Press on the Aston Martin V8 describes in detail the 30-year story of the cars that bore Tadek Marek’s glorious engine, from early prototypes to the final short-chassis Vantage Volantes. Expensive onemodel books are in vogue today and are known to have an effect on car values; owners and would-be owners love the details and sense of order they bring to the subject. Similar works on the Ferrari Dino 246, the 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 and Bentley R-Type Continental have transformed the way these cars are valued and viewed. Once the word is out and story read, we can see ’90s Vantages supercharging their way ahead in the market from today’s low point. You heard it here first.

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Aston Martin DB6

Finally, two for the road. Nick and Neal choose a brace of Astons they’d like to own this year. “For me, I just love the first Gaydon DBS Volante,” said Neal. “They look a million dollars – even better as an Ultimate – are great to drive and I can’t think of anything better for the money in which to enjoy a summer’s motoring. With such great looks, are they so different from a new DBS at three times the price? I don’t think so – ‘timeless’ certainly sums up the DBS.” Nick goes for an old favourite, the Newport Pagnell Vanquish. “It was such a significant car and essentially just one model, with only two variations other than the final Ultimates. The engine was all-new and a charismatic V12 – free-revving, seriously powerful and refined.

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“Its top speed of 200mph has only recently been cracked by the DBS Superleggera. Development of the first Vanquish coincided with the arrival of Dr Ulrich Bez, bringing his trademark German engineering discipline to AM. This caused some fireworks, but it was a ‘dry run’ if you like, for the ground-breaking move to Gaydon and the development of the New Era DB9. There’s a real sense of occasion when starting and driving a Vanquish, a car with effortless performance and good practicality. The Vanquish’s styling is undeniably gorgeous and with the small numbers produced it’s a genuinely useable classic. “Getting a good one now is not so easy; but get the right car and it gives so much pleasure every time you look at it and drive it. A masterpiece in many senses and still relatively affordable for many.”


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Aston Martin DB5 Convertible

So, should Aston aficionados close that 0.75% online savings account and put the money into something tangible in their garage? “Predictions are notoriously difficult to make, so you must do the groundwork on any prospective purchase first and weigh up the possibilities. For now, the days of double-digit annual appreciation may not be guaranteed, and with enjoyment there usually comes a cost. But depreciation on this model and early car issues are now a thing of the past. In short, it’s a choice of putting the money in an eight-year-old+ classic or the bank!

“Well, there’s certainly a lot more fun to be had from a classic and there’s a good chance, from today’s low price-points, that you might even get a better return on your money. All dependant on timing of course, which brings me back to where we started: we’ve seen a fiveyear downturn and now the tide feels like it’s turning. “Buy wisely and the downsides will be kept to a minimum and there could well be some upside from the last five years’ low point.” ‘Our 2020 Market Review is the 6th review of its type. You can access all of our previous market reviews, between 2014 - 2018 here: https://www.nicholasmee.co.uk/sell-your-car/ market-review/

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Get out and drive

to do with your Aston in 2020

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Aston Martin Owners Club Spring Concours 15-17 May This year held at historic Loseley Park, Surrey, the Club’s Spring Concours attracts entries from far and wide. It always includes some of the rarest examples of the marque, and every year these are presented in a superb environment, well attended by like-minded enthusiasts. It’s family friendly and fun to observe passionate and highly competitive owners vying for that coveted ‘Best in Show’ trophy.

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Aston Martin Owners Club Autumn Concours 20 September This year the Club visits picturesque Harewood House in West Yorkshire for its final concours d’elegance. Beautiful cars in beautiful surroundings, picnics and trophies, what’s not to like? For more information on the above events and details on how you can become a member of the club, See: www.amoc.org/events/concours


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Caffeine and Machine check website for dates Located near Aston Martin’s HQ at Gaydon, this destination café for car enthusiasts serves quality coffee and hearty food for petrolheads of all varieties. There’s always some exotic machinery in the car park! See: www.caffeineandmachine.com

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Le Mans Classic 2-5 July Taking place every two years, the 24-hour event for classic racing cars from the ’20s to ’70s is held on the full 8.6-mile main circuit at Le Mans, only a few hours’ enjoyable drive from the Eurotunnel. Track parades and lots to see and do in the ‘Village’ make it a great three-day trip. It’s an absolute ‘must’ for classic car enthusiasts, watching owners stretch their historic racing cars to the limits through the night… Magic, turning-back-the-clock stuff. See: www.lemansclassic.com


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‘Ten Two Club’ 7 March 7 June 17 October Saturday mornings at Essendonbury Farm, NM&Co’s open days for customers and friends. Preview the latest stock of cars, visit the merchandise and parts shop, enjoy premium coffee, sausage rolls and pastries while meeting the team, clients and friends. See: www.nicholasmee.co.uk + https://www.nicholasmee.co.uk/about-us/ten-twoclub/

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North Coast 500 best in spring, summer or early autumn A 516-mile tour of Scotland’s spectacular north coast starting and ending in Inverness. There is nothing like a good road trip in an Aston Martin to help you appreciate your car and this is one of the best. Arm yourself with one of the specialist guidebooks on the route and experience the journey of a lifetime. See: www.northcoast500.com


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Simply Aston Martin at Beaulieu 5 April Over 400 Astons assemble annually in the grounds of the National Motor Museum in the New Forest, Hampshire. Owners and enthusiasts enjoy displaying their car combining it with a day’s outing in the nearby picturesque National Park. See: https://www.beaulieu.co.uk/events/simply-astonmartin/

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Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble 26 April 21 June 4 October Located close to Bicester Village retail outlets, Bicester Heritage is based at a decommissioned Ministry of Defence airfield with converted hangars and admin buildings. The Sunday Scramble mixes interesting cars new and old with some action on the airfield that sometimes includes vintage aeroplanes. Be sure to book before arriving as it’s always a sell-out. See: https://bicesterheritage.co.uk/events/


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Circuit des Remparts 18-20 September Watch dramatic historic cars raced at high speed around the fortified historic town of Angoulême in south-west France. Afterwards, enjoy the local restaurants and wines – Bordeaux is but a short drive away! See: www.circuitdesremparts.com

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Goodwood 28-29 March 9-12 July 11-13 September They write their own descriptions, but the Members’ Meeting (March), the Festival of Speed (July) and Revival (September) truly are world-class. Held on the quintessentially English Goodwood Estate, each has its own character – you cannot go wrong with any of them, though tickets for the race meetings are hard to come by and sell out fast. Goodwood really does have no equals. See: www.goodwood.com

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Stonor Supercar Sunday 17 May William Stonor’s wonderful family home of Stonor Park, near Henley-on-Thames, plays host to a fine selection of supercars new and old every May. That’s the main event. In addition, regular Sunday Breakfast Clubs are held throughout the year, the first on 22 March. Events at Stonor are always relaxed and convivial, and the 17 May Supercar Sunday also has food stalls, gourmet picnics and children’s activities including fairground rides. There’s a Bond connection, too: scenes from the 1987 film The Living Daylights were shot there. See: www.stonor.com

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London Concours 10-11 June Now in its fourth year at the Honourable Artillery Company’s HQ in the City of London, the London Concours is a perfect mid-week fix of fine catering mixed with even finer classic cars. And all within walking distance of most of the City’s financial institutions. See: https://londonconcours.co.uk/


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Heveningham Concours 27-28 June Now in its fifth year, the by-invitation concours held in the spectacular grounds of the Grade I listed Georgian country house in Suffolk features 50 of the world’s rarest and most exciting cars artfully displayed on the Capability Brown-designed terraced lawns to the rear of the Hall. Expect also to see vintage aeroplane displays, a spirited Drag Race on the estate’s service roads and all the fun of a country fair. It’s also a lovely drive from wherever you come from. Proceeds are distributed to a charitable trust and distributed to local causes. See: http://heveninghamconcours.com/

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Silverstone Classic 31 July to 2 August Three days of unparalleled racing action now in its 30th year, with manufacturer and car club stands, an classic car sale by Silverstone Auctions and live music from the headline band. Camping is available and it’s hard to do it all in just one day. Catering for more modern cars, it’s second only to Goodwood for spectacular machinery. See: www.silverstoneclassic.com/


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Concours of Elegance 4-6 September Britain’s ‘own Pebble Beach’. Held once at again at historic Hampton Court Palace, this is the UK’s premier concours event, one which attracts cars from the best collections from all corners of the globe. It’s attended by the cream of the automotive world and definitely not one to be missed. See: https://concoursofelegance.co.uk/

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Les Journeés d’Automme check website for dates Held at the end of summer in French countryside just east of Paris, this stylish classic car gathering has captured the imagination and grown over the years to be one of France’s premier events. Enjoy a weekend away as the leaves turn gold and autumn kicks in. See: www.journeesdautomne.com/


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The ‘Evo Triangle’ all year round Try the road test route of Evo magazine’s testers, a combination of sweeps and bends over a 20-mile course in North Wales. See if you agree with the professionals while you test your car; just look out for speed cameras. If you make the trip from afar, a stop at the Groes Inn is highly recommended. See: www.drivingroads.co.uk/evo-triangle/

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Zoute Grand Prix 8-11 October Held at the very smart Belgian coastal town of Knokke Le Zoute, the four-day extravaganza celebrates every aspect of classic motoring including racing and rally cars, a concours and a cross-country tour. Bonhams holds a successful classic car auction there. See: https://www.zoutegrandprix.be/en


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The Aston Martin Heritage Trust Museum all year round Visit the AMHT and AMOC Barn which houses the collection of the Trust. Exhibits can include new development cars on loan from AML, the actual chequered flag dropped at the finish of the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours and many models, trophies and other exclusively Aston ephemera. It’s just off the M40 east of Oxford and nearby attractions include the perfect spot for some lunch, the world-famous Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. All visitors are most welcome to the Museum, membership of the Club or Trust is not required. See: https://www.amht.org.uk/

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Carry out those simple pre-trip checks all year round! Before taking that drive, be sure to do some basic checks on your car, especially if it’s not been driven regularly. All fluids (oil, water, brake fluid, washer bottle fluid) need looking at, together with tyre pressures, lights and a visual check on the hoses and belts. It’s essential for your piece of mind before giving that accelerator a big squeeze! Perhaps book your car in with us, or at least let our useful pre-touring tips video tutorials be your guide. See: https://www.nicholasmee.co.uk/news/summer-/

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You can be a HERO

… not only just for one day

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S teve W akefield

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The best-known name in the sphere of classic rallying is the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation, HERO for short.

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ullBore caught up with HERO’s Christian von Sanden in the company’s London offices to hear more about how keen Aston Martin drivers can get the most out of their cars, meet fellow enthusiasts and discover a new world of ‘Tulips’, ‘Regularities’ and ‘Tests’. A classic (up to 1 January 1986) Aston Martin is the perfect vehicle for competing at novice and intermediate level. It’s big enough for two with overnight kit if needed, and at the wheel of an Aston you’ll be following in the wheeltracks of cars that tackled the Monte Carlo Rally and the Tour de France Automobile in period. But that might have to wait awhile, the aim of this meeting was to find out how those new to the sport can enter the fast-growing and popular world of historic regularity rallying

HERO organises events throughout the year for all levels of experience, all of which are colour-coded as follows: Green – Introductory Blue – Intermediate Red – Advanced Black – Expert The clear and informative website tells you all you need to know, but in essence the events are graded on how long they last, the amount of night-time driving and degree of complexity. At Expert level, competitors will need to have good map-reading skills and the best timing and in-car reading equipment such as navigator’s lights and Romer map tools. Plus, both driver and navigator will be expected to concentrate

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for hours and days on end – the famous Le Jog is four days long and covers 1,750 miles. Frankly, at this level many choose specially modified cars such as Minis, 911s, TRs and Lancias. All HERO events are run on public roads within national speed limits, with occasional Tests held on airfields or karting tracks – courses mapped out by cones. You won’t be flying through the Kielder Forest in your pride and joy at over 100mph, nor will you require a helmet, overalls or a medical. A simple license for United Kingdom entrants is required, but this is free and can be downloaded online from Motorsport UK. Foreign nationals will be issued a provisional license on the day. HERO events are open to anyone and the minimum age is 13. Parent-and-son or daughter teams are encouraged; they are a great way of involving the rest of the family in the wonderful world of classic cars. What you will require includes a proper tripmeter to accurately measure distance that can be discretely hidden out of the way when not in use, two stopwatches, a fire extinguisher, a ‘spill kit’ (to look after the car’s indiscretions in ritzier locations), a warning triangle and first aid kit. The HERO website lists all these in detail and, handily, its online store will sell them to you… For novices, von Sanden suggests signing up for the Novice Trial that runs from 15th to 17th May. Run by the HERO Training Academy, the idea is to introduce would-be Paddy Hopkirks and David Richards to the basics of regularity rallying – reading the Tulip route book that gives instructions at certain precise distances – map reading (as some events rely on Ordnance Survey coordinates) and the best way of a tackling a ‘Regularity’. The latter are the basics of the sport: at several stages during the event, competitors stop and are then set off at a fixed time, required to set an average speed. At some point, unknown to the team, the car is timed to see if it has kept to that average. Each rally will include several Regularitys. At this training camp, attendees can learn from not only the HERO team on hand, but also slightly more

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“We want to encourage people to have a go. These are not ‘tours’ – they are competitive events, but the aim is for everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves...”

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experienced competitors who might be there for the one-day rally on the Sunday. Eligible Aston Martins: From there, novice and intermediate competitors are encouraged to enter one of the HERO Challenge rallies (21 March, 5 September, 10 October), one-day events that might include six Tests and six Regularities over a 180-mile route navigated by Tulip directions and maps. All for a reasonable £225 a time – try going circuit racing for that.

Pre-War 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre Feltham DB2, DB2/4 and DB Mk III Newport Pagnell DB4, DB4 GT, DB5, DB6 Newport Pagnell V8 to December 1985

Cars and drivers are graded on classes, so those new to the sport can still be a contender in the HERO Challenge Championship. If the bug bites, well, the world is yours. HERO’s premier events such as Le Jog, The Scottish Malts, Classic Marathon and Winter Challenge to Monte-Carlo are world-famous and generally oversubscribed. Von Sanden sums up the company ethos, and how important it is for them to help newcomers to the sport: “We want to encourage people to have a go. These are not ‘tours’ – they are competitive events, but the aim is for everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves, particularly on the longer rallies where the overnight stops are a chance to take it easy and make new friends. There’s no way we want people to feel intimidated – it’s your car, and most likely a family member with you, now is the time to get the most out of it.” We’d agree with that. See: https://heroevents.eu/

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THE NEW TESTAMENT – Aston Martin V 1969-2000 Words

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Ru s s e l l H a y e s

A definitive new book from Palawan.

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Late last year Nicholas Mee and Co. hosted a book launch for Aston Martin V8: 1969-2000 from limited edition publisher Palawan Press. It was the culmination of a long journey, supported throughout by Nick himself. Here author Russell Hayes gives some of the inside story.

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ith only a few published each year, a Palawan Press book is a rare thing. And in May 2017 I had the honour and the challenge to be asked by founder Simon Draper to write a history of the magnificent hand-built V8 engine and the Aston Martins it propelled for three decades. It was a project that had been waiting for its time for nearly ten years; some preparation had been done but the scope and content was still wide open. I’d written five motoring books before, but all non-Aston. This was The Big One. Simon allowed me the freedom to create a comprehensive synopsis of each chapter’s content. We started in the early 1960s when the quad-cam, all-alloy V8 began its long journey into production – including a premature debut at the Nürburgring in 1967 – then into the 1969 DBS V8. Then onto all the V8-engined

cars of the 1970s and ’80s, including full chapters on the 1976-92 ‘wedge’ Lagonda, the V8 Vantage Zagato and the V8 engine in competition. But why stop there? Accepting that the highly developed 32-valve and supercharged V8 engines were by then far developed from designer Tadek Marek’s original, we continued through the Virage and Vantage of the 1990s until the last engine was assembled by Terry Durston in July 2000. And what an extraordinary 30 years at Newport Pagnell; roller coaster ride doesn’t do it justice. Cast off from the David Brown Corporation in 1972; receivership in 1974; rescued by an American and a Canadian; the marvellous madness of the 1976 Lagonda; the V8 Vantage in 1977; re-connecting with Zagato and being pocketed by Ford in 1988.

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Not to forget a works racing return to Le Mans in 1989 with AMR1. All this for a company often producing under 300 cars a year by hand, and some weeks struggling to pay the wages. But of course all this has been written about before by respected authors. What could I add? In short, original archive research and people. The best way to bring the story to life was to talk to those who lived through those turbulent times. Starting with a Wish List of interviewees, in June 2017 my first visit was to Nick Mee who, from joining Aston Martin Lagonda (1975) Ltd. in 1976, rose to sales director before leaving in 1991. Nick had been a supporter of the project long before I arrived and as well as having plenty of stories to share, set me off with connections. Like a family tree, the interview list grew. Another frequent stop-off

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and sounding-board was Kingsley Riding-Felce who also joined in 1976, rising from panelbeater to director of Works Service. The list grew and grew, everybody adding a little or a lot more; as varied as for example Kellforms Woodmasters, who made the body bucks; or a fun call to the Duchess of Bedford, who took delivery of the first Lagonda, which then failed to start. Often tracking people down through friends of friends and using lots of reassurance, I spent time with former company owners, some in person, some by late-night phone calls to America. My finally tally of interviewees ran to 36. It included one particular celebrity owner; Rowan Atkinson, a great supporter of the Aston Martin V8

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then and now. In 1981 he dared to buy a used V8 and in 2018 brought a V8 Vantage to star in Johnny English Reborn. As an owner of several more V8s during the 1980s and a frequent factory visitor, he has unique insight into personalities of the time, such as Victor Gauntlett.

Aston Martin V8: 1969-2000 is available to order from Palawan Press in three limited-editions. More detail at www.palawan.co.uk

Our interview was a pleasure postponed; the challenge with all busy people is to find a time which suits them and leave plenty of time should your date be re-arranged, then be ready to go at the drop of a hat. Rowan vividly recalled his V8 years and very kindly wrote the foreword for the book. Challenges? Firstly as well as writing, I also had to source 400 archive photos, principally from the Aston Martin Heritage Trust, but also from my favourite newspaper and magazine archives, contacts and other museums, always looking to find images which hadn’t been seen before. And secondly the time needed for such a hefty project – doing an unrelated full-time day job most evenings, weekends, holidays and early morning had an Aston element, and I had to persuade my employer to let me work part-time for six months.

Author Russell Hayes

While I was pummelling the keyboard there was a parallel team at work for Palawan, Rob Smith Chairman of the Aston Martin Heritage Trust who was sourcing further archive photos, and owners to bring their precious cars to photoshoots for the striking images which now grace the pages. Rob also compiled a companion book, The Register, which records the specification for each V8 model and a list of all the chassis numbers. Handing over the final draft in 2018 was just the beginning of a painstaking process of checking, being challenged by an exacting editor, adding extra material and working with the designer to create a book worthy of the Palawan name. I was delighted that Nick offered the launch, a neat full circle since that first day we spoke in his former showroom in Shepherd’s Bush.

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What’s in stock In this section we showcase a selection of the best examples of Aston Martin motor cars from the 1950s to the present day, all available for sale at our new, purpose-built ‘destination’ premises on the historic Hatfield Park Estate in Hertfordshire. Prior to delivery, all cars are supplied serviced according to schedule, with a pre-delivery Inspection Report, 12 months MOT and 12 months warranty. Finance for any vehicle is available with our dealer partner, Classic & Sports Finance.

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FUL LB O R E E X C LUSI V E

Image credit: Tim Cottingham, www.astonmartins.com

T he G en eva Show 2009 - Lagonda LUV ( Luxur y Utilit y Vehicle ) Concept goes on sale 76


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OVERVIEW Revealed at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, the Lagonda ‘LUV’ concept surprised onlookers and made the motoring press draw a deep breath. This was a new and divisive direction for Aston Martin, which in itself drew some level of criticism. Of course the styling, too, was arguably both striking and contentious – but are we alone in thinking that now, post-Bentley Bentayga and R-R Cullinan, it actually has stature and a presence akin to those vehicles? All of this goes some way to justify what would have been the high price had it gone on sale at the time. The product of Marek Reichmann’s studio at Gaydon, there are certainly elements of the design which ring true with its contemporaries: stature, a prominent nose and generous proportions. In retrospect, there seems no denying that this concept could, with the odd tweak here and there, have been a

strong contender in the luxury SUV market. Boasting a smooth and powerful 6.0-litre V12 and an opulently designed interior, it was a seductive mix. The newly released luxury DBX SUV, while likely to be highly successful, somehow comes across as little less ambitious and easier to digest. Dynamically, we hear it’s a great car, though we have not yet tried one on the road. The unique Lagonda Concept has lived for some years in a private collection, complete, though not in a running condition or road registered. However, like all concepts, there is a home for this work of automotive history. Now available for sale, we are delighted to be offering this ex-Geneva Show, aluminium bodied, 6.0-litre V12 Lagonda concept car as a collector’s piece or project.

FULL DETAILS ARE AVILABLE ON REQUEST

Call (0)20 8741 8822

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1 960 Aston Marti n D B 4 Series 1

ÂŁ499, 95 0

OVERVIEW Superbly restored and finished in Cardinal Grey with Deep Burgundy hide, this superb DB4 Series I is simply one of the best of its type. Restored over many years by respected marque specialists, this is a matching-numbers car, one of just 150 Series

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1s built, with the model’s characteristic front opening bonnet and frameless side-windows. First delivered in January 1960, beautifully presented and complete with a comprehensive history file, this car comes from a renowned collection of exceptional cars.

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2004 Aston M artin D B7 Z agato £299,950

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2004 Aston Marti n V a n quish SDP £94,9 50

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2007 Aston M artin V antage RS £295,000

2009 Aston Marti n DB S V ola n te £84,9 50

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1 9 65 Aston Marti n D B 5 Co nvertible

£P O A

OVERVIEW This stunning 1965 DB5 Convertible has been restored to concours standards by best-of-the-best UK experts between 2015 and 2018. An original RHD car, it was delivered new to Hollywood for celebrated film and theatre screenwriter, producer and playwright Wilton ‘Bill’ Manhoff, whose credits include ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’.

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In 1973, it changed hands and was bought by New York-based air-conditioning tycoon Seymour ‘Sy’ Kaback. Remaining in RHD while in the USA, this DB5 Convertible was last purchased by a renowned collector and repatriated to the UK in 2015. On arrival, the superb low-mileage car received a total restoration by awardwinning British craftsmen, experts in marque restorations.

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1960 A ston M artin D B4 Series 1 £499,950

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1 997 Aston Marti n V 8 V antage V 550 £220,0 00

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2000 A ston M artin V 8 Vantage L e M ans £399,950

2 011 Aston Marti n DB S V ola n te ‘ C arbo n B lac k ’ £ 89,9 50

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2 015 Aston Martin DB 9 G T ‘B o nd E ditio n ’ £135, 000

OVERVIEW A fitting tribute to the highly successful relationship between Aston Martin and James Bond, now in its 56th year. The DB9 GT Bond Edition was announced in 2015 and attracted global attention, and of the 141 built only 38 examples were delivered in the UK.

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Finished in standard issue Spectre Silver with Obsidian Black hide and Silver stitching, this example is complete with its entire complement of special-issue equipment: a 007 Limited Edition Omega Aqua Terra wristwatch with accessories, display case and books, all fitted in the Bond Edition’s original 20in Globe-Trotter suitcase. All are unused.

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2017 Aston M artin D B9 GT Vola nte ‘ L ast of 9’ £195,000

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2002 Aston Marti n DB 7 V a n tage £37,9 50

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1978 ASTON M A RTI N V8 VANTAG E ‘ B OL T ON’ £249,950

2006 Aston Marti n V a n quish S £ 119,9 50

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1978 V8 Vantage ‘F liptail ’

£259, 950

OVERVIEW An original LHD car, this V8 Vantage ‘Flip Tail’, the 3rd of the 19 built before the adoption of Oscar India styling in 1978, was delivered new to North America. It was owned for some 20 years by the same Aston Martin enthusiast and author of books on the marque before its acquisition by a European collector some six years ago and subsequent re-importation to Europe.

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Accompanied by a comprehensive history file charting the car’s early life in the USA and Europe, invoices and statements confirm the current engine to be to renowned ‘X’ Pack specification delivering some 430bhp. Benefitting from restored chassis and bodywork, this rare and exceptionally well-maintained car is finished in period Aston Martin colour Tudor Green and retains its original Burgundy interior in Connolly hide.

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2007 Aston M artin V anquish S £129,950

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1994 Aston Martin V antage V 6 00 £ 295,0 00

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1965 Aston M artin DB 5 £695,000

2 011 Aston Marti n DB S V ola n te ‘ C arbo n B lac k ’ £ 84,9 50

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2004 Aston Marti n V a nquish

£84, 950

OVERVIEW Finished in Chiltern Green over Charcoal hides and carpets, this superb example was first registered in April 2004 and since then has covered just over 20,000 miles. In addition to the Vanquish’s standard high specification, this car benefits from numerous optional extras including: 2004 model-year wheels, black brake calipers, heated front seats, desirable 2+2 seats, a heated front screen, powerfold mirrors, rear park sensors, Linn premium audio and satellite navigation.

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Throughout its life this Vanquish has been well maintained and since 2011 has been looked after by our own workshop. In recent years, major maintenance work has been carried out including new spark plugs and ignition coils, new ASM pump, new clutch and a gearbox upgrade to ‘S’ specification. Now totally ‘on the button’ and presented to the highest standard throughout, this car is ready to be enjoyed by its next custodian.

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2006 A ston M artin V8 Vantage ‘ P rodrive’ £36,950

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1996 Aston Martin V antage V 6 00 £ 285,0 00

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2018 FORD G T40 BY G EL SC OE £375,000

2007 Aston Marti n DB 9 V ola n te £ 39,9 50

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Chris Green

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S ome words from the workshop !

Service & Aftercare Manager Chris Green brings you up to speed on what has been a very busy winter so far and gives his thoughts on the motoring season ahead.

“With the nights now noticeably getting longer and the first signs of spring appearing, we are now readying ourselves for what is usually our busiest period of the year: cars are woken from their winter slumbers; clients begin planning spring and summer trips. “In addition to a number of exciting restoration projects we are currently managing – that include the cosmetic and mechanical refurbishment of a 1985 V8 Vantage, a DB6 Vantage Volante and two other DB6s – our workshops are particularly busy with scheduled servicing and maintenance work for all post-War Astons. We’ve used the winter months to create a new, highly competitive Fixed Price Service menu that offers clients new and old total clarity on how much their car’s next service will cost. “We are also pleased to share many years of knowledge with customers to understand the particular needs of their car, creating a programme of improvement that

Fixed Price Aston Martin Servicing

suits. Please feel free to contact either myself or David Willoughby if there are any jobs that you are considering this spring. “Our relocation to Essendonbury Farm in 2018 and the additional space it now affords has allowed us to expand the features we can offer. In addition to routine service, maintenance and restoration, we now have an on-site craftsman skilled in trimming and upholstery and have recently completed a number of new convertible hoods. We can now also supply and fit PPF (Paint Protection Film), provide valeting and detailing, four-wheel alignment, vehicle storage and warranty cover. Details of which are all available on our website. “We look forward to hearing from you and helping you get the most out of your treasured Aston Martin.” See: https://www.nicholasmee.co.uk/service-andaftercare/

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Parting shot — A throwback to the spectacular Aston Martin Centenary Event, held in 2013 at Kensington Gardens, featuring a selection of Aston Martin finest Works racing cars.

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Profile for Nicholas Mee & Company

Fullbore Issue 28 — Spring 2020  

Nicholas Mee & Co's World of Aston Martin.

Fullbore Issue 28 — Spring 2020  

Nicholas Mee & Co's World of Aston Martin.