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    CAR #1965-Aston-Martin-DB5 / #1965 / #Aston-Martin-DB5 / #Aston-Martin

    OWNER Andrew English

    ‘I’m not In love, so don’t forget it,’ sang 10cc, in their eponymous 1975 number-one single; and I was beginning to feel the same way about Gobbo, my Aston Martin DB5.

    I’d almost decided to sell the old girl and had squared my conscience with the idea of parting with the ‘family heirloom’, as my wife puts it on the good days. But then I saw the new Bond No Time To Die trailer, which is book-ended by his Silver Birch DB5 roaring and sliding, battered but unbowed and firing its chain guns (yes, forget those Brownings). It’s the sort of film that makes you wonder whether you really want to relinquish one of the loveliest things you’ve ever owned.

    She’s been in my hands for many years now, though the Aston Martin Owners’ Club people still call her ‘Bob Fairburn’s Old Car’ or ‘Gobbo’. I bought her just as the tumbling masonry of the get-rich-quick ’80s was falling around our ears and DB5s were still rare, but available. I heard Gobbo before I bought her, twice. First, as Fairburn gunned her engine as he headed up to Glasgow after taking a class win at the AMOC Wiscombe hillclimb.

    Second, when a friend raced Gobbo past my house on open exhausts, the rev-counter yowling past 6000rpm. I lifted my head and entered the fantasy world that the impoverished Aston Martin owner must keep one foot in.

    In the meantime she’s been raced and hillclimbed but always as a standard car. She’s done countless high days and holidays and school proms, and had money poured into her slightly faster than you can pour it out of a two-gallon can. Two engine and complete drivetrain rebuilds, countless suspension and brake refurbs, and paint – oh, the paint that car has had in my tenure.

    Best event was undoubtedly the 1400m Mont Ventoux hillclimb in southern France, where we were gate-crashers on part-entry fees and were asked by the organisers to slow down as we were upsetting owners with potentially far faster cars. Another best day was when my daughter took the wheel.

    They’re all best days in an Aston but I have to admit that, while the costs have risen, my income hasn’t. Writing about cars never really did stretch to running a classic Aston, but these days it’s quite impossible; rates haven’t risen for over a decade. Gobbo really should go to someone with the wherewithal to keep her in the manner to which she’s become accustomed.

    Trouble is, as soon as you announce that such an unmolested prize – she’s never been totally apart – is for sale, you are descended on by an army of the most deluded Walter Mittys. ‘Just put a bloody advert in the paper: it’s simple,’ said Talacrest’s John Collins a few years ago, when I interviewed him about selling a Ferrari GTO. According to my friend Andrew Mitchell of body shop and restoration specialist Mitchell Motors in Wiltshire, however, now is not a good time to offer Gobbo up for sale. ‘If things pick up, try the Spring.’

    Good advice – but if you’re interested, get in touch anyway. To use that time-worn phrase: please, no time-wasters…
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    Merc 190C ‘too good for modern traffic’... in 1975

    / #Mercedes-Benz-190C-W110 / #1965-Mercedes-Benz-190C-W110 / #Mercedes-Benz-W110 / #Mercedes-Benz-190C / #1965 / #Mercedes-Benz

    The owner of this handsome #Mercedes-Benz 190C felt that after 10 years of sparing usage and a mere 7295 miles, the careless drivers of mid-1970s Britain presented too much of a risk to its wellbeing, so away it went. It was bought new from Mercedes-Benz main dealer Comberhill Garage in Ashton in Makerfield, Lancashire, on 1 September 1965. The original dealer wallet, salesman’s business card, key fob, first and last tax disc, dealer tax disc holder, radio leaflet, radio blanking plate and last MoT certificate are all still with the car.

    The owner ordered Mercedes-Benz’s fitted carpets, but chose not to use them and for some reason had another set made to protect the rubber matting. It comes to sale with the aforementioned original paperwork plus a toolkit, jack and wheel brace. The spare wheel has never been fitted. It’s being offered by the family of the first and only owner via H&H’s Pavilion Gardens sale in Buxton on November 27, with no reserve. Our price guide says a really nice fintail 190 is worth about £10,000-£12,000 – could this time-capsule car exceed that, despite the work required to return it to the road?

    Kept safe from the rigours of the road for nearly 45 years. This fintail 190 has covered only 7295 miles from new. Interior looks a lot fresher than the exterior after lay-up.
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    / #1965-Jensen-C-V8 / #1965 / #Jensen-C-V8 / #Jensen

    Beautiful! I realized that this car was missing in my garage.
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    Bumper cars

    CAR #1965-Aston-Martin-DB5 / #1965 / #Aston-Martin-DB5 / #Aston-Martin-DB / #Aston-Martin

    OWNER Andrew English

    It’s been well over a year since I decided to put bumpers back on the Aston and it’s been away at Mitchell Motors in Wiltshire for almost six months being measured, prodded and poked. Parts of it have been removed and photographed, and bodywork patterns have been made, with images sent off to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) in Vietnam. It’s here that Harrington Group has its 32,000sq ft factory making 300 different classic-car bumpers and a growing range of half-scale replica cars.

    Of course, I could have bought unfinished steel blanks, but once tailored, chromium-plated and fitted, they’d cost four times the £1650 of these stainless-steel Vietnamese-made examples. And, since we’ve even been to the trouble of creating a wooden buck for the back of the car, there’s no excuse for getting it wrong. Well, that’s the theory.

    Ly Phan, managing director of the Harrington Group, told me as she sipped a coffee in my kitchen: ‘There are some rivals making stainless bumpers, but they aren’t as good as ours.’ Hang on: ‘In my kitchen’? Yes. Phan was in Britain a few months ago and stopped off for a chat and to collect the rolled-up pattern for the rear bumper, which she was taking back as hand luggage. This was a fairly serious undertaking, for the big cardboard tube was almost as tall as she is.

    Harrington was formed in 2003 by Phan and her ex-partner Nathan Redfearn. He’d worked in the classic car industry and could see the advantage of Vietnam’s local craft skills and low wage rates in creating labour-intensive parts for old cars. I questioned Phan closely over my fears that this might be a Vietnamese sweatshop employing underage workers in terrible conditions.

    ‘We have 60 people employed,’ she says, ‘and we are expanding steadily. We are about 30 minutes from the centre of Saigon and that is the beauty of the works, where there are old English Wheels and the skills to use them.’

    Phan recounts how they were initially determined to pay double the average wage of about £100 a month. ‘We paid them £200 at the end of the month and the next day they didn’t show up,’ she says. ‘That was lesson one… Now we pay around £150 a month plus insurance and healthcare. There is employment law in Vietnam and I am confident about how we treat our employees.’

    Harrington’s most skilled panelbeater does all the bodywork on the scale replicas and earns £650 a month.

    A couple of nights ago I watched my savings account empty into PayPal. We’ll see if it was money well spent when the bumpers arrive.

    From top Andrew’s DB5 was measured in Wiltshire and never left the UK. Meanwhile, patterns were sent to Vietnam, where new bumpers were made up. The company also builds half-scale replica classics.
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    The Triumph Is finally back on the road in Our classics

    / #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph / #Triumph-2000 / #Triumph-2.5 / #1965-Triumph-2000 / #1965

    CAR Triumph 2.5PI

    Run by James Elliott
    Owned since April 1998
    Total mileage 64,218
    Miles since January 2015
    report 224
    Latest costs £1170

    BEASTIE’S LONGAWAITED RETURN

    It was a funny old year, 2015. The last time you read about the Triumph, I’d just taken it off the road for a pre-50th birthday (its, not mine) spruce up. Nothing too dramatic: some filler here, a dash of rattle-can paint there, that accursed steering column bush, all putting off for a bit longer the bigger tasks that I can still ignore at the moment. And then work (namely DRIVE-MY – The London Show) overtook me.

    Suddenly it was November, our workshop was being demolished and the Beast needed to be shifted. Thankfully, Oli Cottrell of Classic Jaguar Replicas stepped in, allowing me to kill several birds with one stone: get the Triumph off site, give it a good home over the winter and get some of those jobs done while it was there. I borrowed a Kia Something-or-other from former editor Clements (today the God of all things caravan and motorhome), hitched up the DRIVE-MY trailer (now also sadly gone due to lack of storage space), loaded up the Triumph and made a dash for Berkshire as the bulldozers moved in.

    Oli’s principal job was to fit the new wiring loom, which I’d wanted to do myself until common sense prevailed. I’d bought the loom from Moss Europe and been hugely impressed by the process. Before I was allowed to order one for my Mk1/Mk2 cross, I took a call from fellow owner (and Moss employee) Adam Chignell. He then painstakingly talked me through the decades of mods and bodging to the Triumph, to make sure that the replacement was bespoke and would fit with minimal adaptation. It was nice to catch up with Adam and Triumph-mad son Will when I picked up the loom from Matthew Hutchins at Moss Europe’s London HQ, which was only a spit and a cough from our old office.

    Oli was certainly grateful of that extra attention to detail when he fitted the lovely new item. The previous horrible mess was so knackered that even I was content to watch him bin it rather than let me try to salvage some “get you home” emergency wiring from it. As a result of the loom being a near-perfect fit straight out of the box, Oli was done far sooner than expected and put the car in for an MoT test in mid-December. The good news from the point of view of my storage woes was that it failed.

    The bad news was that it failed. Typically for the Triumph, it was a similar list of problems to pretty much every year: some welding, a bush or two and something minor and electrical (in this case, the impeller pump for the washer bottle). That bought a little more time but my original thinking that the car would be away until spring was undone by 6 January when, for the first time in more than 12 months, the Beast became legal. On picking it up, I instantly became addicted all over again. In approaching 20 years of ‘ownership’, the joyous thrills of driving the Beast have never dimmed and it still brings out the hooligan in me.

    It isn’t the fastest car in the world, but it is the best-sounding and there is just something a bit lairy and outlaw about it. My relationship with it is like forever being stuck in the first three months of a romance, and I guess that’s why I’ve never parted with it when so many other classics have come and gone.

    With the car pressed into daily use (the kids love its attention-grabbing persona and springy back seat), my growing jobs list (carpets, heater, hi-fi, rust-holes, etc) is being topped by the fact that maybe it’s time to grow up and fit a steering wheel that takes a bit of pressure off my arms. If anyone has a MkI PI item, I would love to hear from them. There is another reason, of course, why I am so pleased to have the Triumph back: sadly, there is sombre news on the Jensen front.

    THANKS TO
    Moss Europe: 020 8867 2020; www.moss-europe.co.uk Oli Cottrell, Classic Jaguar Replicas: 0118 971 2091; www.jaguarreplicas.com


    Matthew Hutchins with replacement loom. Oli Cottrell with the old tangled remains. Corrosion to the sills required attention. Cottrell with his handiwork: the Beast is finally running and seducing Elliott all over again. Moss employees and arch Triumph enthusiasts Will and Adam Chignell with their cars. With the car rewired, it was time for an MoT; the short list of fails was easily addressed.
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    It’s not about the money

    CAR: #1965-Aston-Martin-DB5 / #Aston-Martin-DB5 / #1965 / #Aston-Martin-DB5 / #Aston-Martin

    OWNER: Andrew English

    Funny how folk seem to want to offer financial advice at every turn, especially when they learn you own an Aston Martin and even more so when they learn it’s a DB5. Several years ago, forthcoming Top Gear Stig replacement Chris Harris told me to sell it ‘and buy a proper racing car’. Then, last year, website supremo Honest John (aka Peter Lorimer) passed on the advice of supercar dealer Tom Hartley that, as soon as interest rates rose, my old car would plummet in value. Oh, and when the Fed finally did raise interest rates for the first time in a decade just before Christmas, the chorus of ‘sell it’ from friends, colleagues and family was deafening. Glad everyone’s got my best interests at heart.

    Yet if Gobbo (the family heirloom) was to go up for sale, it wouldn’t be about bloomin’ interest rates, but more because of a deep weariness at being repeatedly told what a great investment it’s been. No-one ever asks what it’s like to drive or own. And its investment potential isn’t quite that clear-cut, either. In my almost-quarter-century tenure, Gobbo’s had a partial body rebuild, two complete engine, gearbox and rear-axle rebuilds, endless suspension rebuilds and fettling, two complete resprays plus countless blow-overs, a full retrim plus reupholstered driver and passenger seats. Add annual servicing, tyres, fuel, expensive brakes, very expensive oil and a couple of windscreens and you’re looking down the barrel of 160 grand.

    Of course, the millionaires have almost completely taken over the upper end of the classic car scene these days and there’s an almost terrifying price inflation taking place in services and parts. Take the interior lamps in the cabin, for example. These plastic Hella items are the most absolute rubbish, fitted to Astons, Mercedes and some VW models I think. The heat from the festoon bulbs heats the clear plastic lamp cover and makes it brittle, so the delicate clips break off and the cover lands in your lap.

    So I purchased six covers many years ago from Adrian Musto at Aston Engineering in Derby for £20 a pop. The last one landed in my lap last week and I phoned to ask for a renewal price – and gently put the phone down when I was told it was £108 plus VAT. My wife Philippa’s skills as a fine-art restorer came in handy to fix the broken lamp (pictured top).

    The number of David Brown-era cars going through the doors of the respected Aston builders such as Aston Engineering, Davron (which looks after Gobbo) and Richard Stewart Williams is extraordinary at the moment. They’ve become investment cars, like cigarettes in prisoner-of-war camps, yet few of them are ever used. ‘They’ve been driven off the road,’ said one restorer.

    And are these gussied-up 4s, 5s and 6s any good? David Reed handed over the keys to Gobbo last month after a reassuringly expensive service (including new hubs and brake master cylinder). ‘After driving some quite good-looking DBs that are completely awful,’ he said, ‘it’s just lovely to get behind the wheel of one as well-sorted as yours.’

    I know people love to talk about money, but I don’t. Next time I have a conversation about Gobbo, hopefully it’ll be about what it’s like to drive and not how much it’s worth – that’s really dull.
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    £ One to buy #1965 / #Mercedes-Benz-190 / #Mercedes-Benz-190-W110 / #1965-Mercedes-Benz-190-W110 / #1965-Mercedes-Benz-190 / #Mercedes-Benz-W110 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-Fintail / #Fintail

    Cream and red is an excellent colour combination for a classic #Mercedes – and while this might be a base spec 190, it’s no less charming for it.

    Free from much of the chrome trimming of the more upmarket Fintails, this 190 is if anything better for its simplicity. Finished in Ivory and with red trim echoing the traditional German racing colours, it looks the part – and a pleasant change from the black and grey which seem to dominate on these models. There’s no rust, and the chrome is all in good condition. The original hubcaps are present and match the body – and it’s nice to see that previous owners haven’t succumbed to the temptation of whitewall tyres.

    The interior is relatively sparse as a base spec car, but this doesn’t mean it’s lacking in comforts. None of the plastics on the dash are cracked, which suggests to us that there has been a replacement. The steering wheel however is delightfully patinated – several hairline cracks and the rim is split in a number of places. Yet this doesn’t detract – if anything, a small sign of use endears us to the car and makes it feel more like a used and loved example than a museum piece. The seats were recoloured just prior to our test, and the shade of red was a little sudden for our liking. This will settle with time and use though, and the interior certainly lives up to the rest. From cold it starts well, settling into a smooth idle. There’s little evidence of recent mechanical work, and while there are invoices in the history file we can’t translate from Japanese. It has however been recently serviced and inspected by experienced mechanics, and we had no concerns about how it felt on test. There was no evidence of leaking fluids, and it ran like a new example might.

    The gearbox is a delight. Column mounted changes are far nicer than floor mounted gearboxes of this era, and this car is no exception – it takes car on the way from second into third but barring that the gearbox is one of the nicest we’ve used. The clutch bites fairly high, and it’s easy to make rapid progress. Despite the lack of power steering it’s not a heavy car to drive, and it’s easy to place on the road even as left hand drive. There was a little hesitation early in our test under load at low revs, but this cleared with use and we believe was owing to a period of having been started and moved while cold. It wouldn’t deter us from purchase given how rapidly it cleared. The history file is relatively small, and mostly in Japanese. It is believed that the car was imported from Japan into Britain in 2015, though as we cannot read Japanese we couldn’t understand the limited history file. It’s not known where the car was prior to its time in Japan, though with the help of Mercedes Benz a potential owner may be able to establish its original country of sale.

    CONCLUSION

    While it’s not the cheapest Fintail on the planet, it’s certainly one of the nicest, and it drives just as well as it looks. In years to come, cars like this will appreciate – we’ll wish we’d bought them while they were affordable. This car has clearly been cherished – and while we can’t trace its history prior to its time in Japan the condition speaks for itself. Don’t worry about the lack of cylinders either – it’s more than pokey enough and will definitely put a smile on your face.

    Above: Seats have been recoloured recently.

    BUY THIS CAR FROM: Spurr Cars, Old Wheel Farm, Rowell Lane, Loxley, Sheffield S6 6SD 0114 2315000 www.americancarsuk.com

    "Having been recently serviced, it ran like a new example."
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    A Triumph of style over substance

    / #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph / #Triumph-2000 / #Triumph-2.5 / #1965-Triumph-2000 / #1965

    1965 TRIUMPH 2000 JAMES ELLIOTT


    My Triumph is one of those rare classics that just become an immutable part of the family from day one. I have known the car since it was born out of my pal Humphrey Hale’s Mk2 PI ‘Big Red’ that committed harakiri on the side of a Welsh farmhouse and a rust-free Mk1 shell discovered by another mate, Andy Thompson.

    Although inveterate Triumph developer Thompson has moved the game on with his own 200bhp-plus #EFI-equipped cars, this one was state-of-the- art when assembled in the early 1990s. It has a TR5 fast road cam, Sprint metering unit, Stag police-spec overdrive ’box, drilled discs, and other tweaks such as Datsun linear driveshafts to eradicate spline lock.

    The car came to me after Hale and Thompson bought a goldmine in Australia (long story) and ‘The Beast’, as it was dubbed, went into storage.

    I hate cars having names and this high-decibel monster is my only exception. I disinterred it shortly afterwards and it has been a constant in my life ever since. An oft-neglected constant admittedly, but it remains the most reliable car that I have ever owned.

    For many years The Beast was regularly sprinted and hillclimbed, it did the #VSCC ’s #Pomeroy-Trophy and didn’t disgrace itself, it racked up 300 miles at Castle Combe in a day on an Enginuity trackday, and twice it has completed Club Triumph’s Round Britain Reliability Run, a 2000-mile, 48-hour charity dash.

    Of course, I’ve had to carry out constant maintenance to keep the Triumph on the road, but such is its usability – and tendency to start on-the-button however long it has been stashed away – that most of the major maintenance was a long time ago. Which means that some serious work on the car is long overdue.

    The gearbox is desperate for a rebuild, the whining diff is a goner (might as well replace it with an LSD, no?), the headlining looks like Anthony Perkins has been let loose on it with a carving knife, and the Cactus Green-under-black paint is so faded and varied that people ask if the Triumph is a rat-rod. And heaven knows what bodywork horrors that dodgy paint is shrouding.

    The problem is that addressing any of these would mean taking the Triumph off the road. I still take the kids to school in it regularly, commute in it and enjoy it for fun family days out, like popping down to Brooklands to see in the New Year, as we did this year.

    I say ‘family’ but, if the Triumph is involved, the day is unlikely to include my wife – she hates the car and the feeling would appear to be mutual. Its relationship with her has been freakily Christine-like, and the window winder once took a chunk out of her hand that merited hospital treatment. That one tested my loyalties a bit, I admit.

    From top Scenes from James’s life with The Beast: Brooklands this New Year’s Day; en route to Le Mans; at the Ace Café, London; doing the Pom at Silverstone.
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