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    Some of my favourite cars are hybrids, I’ve realised, but they’re not the ones you’re probably thinking of right now. I come from an era when the word ‘hybrid’ meant something totally different. And last week I finally found one.

    I had my heart set on an Aston Martin DB5, but I just can’t bring myself to justify the price. It’s not that I don’t think it’s worth it, it’s just that I grew up in an era when used DB5s were just a few grand more than an #Jaguar-E-type . The car I’m talking about is much rarer than a #Aston-Martin-DB5 . I think they made fewer than 500 of them. It’s a car that has fascinated me for some time, probably because I never actually saw one in person. Then, about a year ago at a car show in Beverly Hills, I finally did see one. It was a deep royal blue with a tan interior, just the combination I would have ordered back in 1965 when it was new. But at the time I was 15 and working at McDonald’s.

    I did hear that Sean Connery, probably the biggest movie star in the world at the time, had one. Years later Sean was a guest on my talk show, I asked him about the car and he seemed pleased I knew what it was. Turns out he actually passed over a #Aston-Martin DB5 for a second-hand #Jensen-C-V8 / #Jensen . True enthusiast, or just a thrifty Scotsman? Well, that made me want one even more.

    Anyway, back to the Beverly Hills car show. Showing the Jensen was a German guy named Chris. I introduced myself and told him how much I liked his car. He smiled broadly and seemed thrilled that I knew what it was. Most people at the show had no idea. ‘What year Jensen-C-V8 ?’ I asked. ‘It’s a 1965 Mark III,’ he replied. To my mind the final Mark III was the most desirable version.

    Even though this was exactly what I was looking for, I never ask people at car shows if something is for sale or how much it costs. I hate when people do it to me because it just seems so incredibly rude. Chris and I chatted for a few more minutes, I complimented him on the restoration and wished him good luck.

    Not quite a year later, my next-door neighbour called me to tell me a friend of his had a car for sale, and was I interested? Normally when people call me with a car for sale, it’s something like an AMC Gremlin with a Levi jeans interior.

    ‘Do you remember meeting a German guy at the Beverly Hills car show last year?’ my neighbour asked. ‘You mean the guy with the C-V8?’ I replied. ‘Yeah, that’s him,’ he said.

    The car was less than five miles from my house. I ran out the door and bought it on the spot. No, I didn’t test drive it first. No, I didn’t put it up on a ramp and look it over like you’re supposed to do. Do you know why? Try and find another one! Luckily the car turned out to be just fine; a few small things but nothing major.

    The car is called a hybrid because, back in the ’60s, ‘hybrid’ meant putting American power plants into European cars. Think early Cadillac-powered Allards, or Carroll Shelby stuffing a 289 Ford into an #AC-Ace to create the Cobra. That started a trend of sticking very powerful American engines into English cars. Jensen used a #Chrysler-383ci-V8 , sending over 330bhp through a three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission. I like to think of my Jensen as a #Dodge-Dart-GTS that went to Oxford.

    The reason I’m partial to English hybrids is that I love English styling, design and roadholding, and I understand American engines with their torque and durability. It seems the ideal combination to me. The Jensen is everything I wish my GTS could be. Four-wheel disc brakes instead of disc/drum. Classic British wood and leather interior, instead of plastic and vinyl. Sophisticated chassis with rails acting as a vacuum reservoir, to aid braking. It even has shock absorbers you can adjust from the driver’s seat. My GTS shares its body with the six-cylinder runabout model, but the Jensen has a fabulous (to my eyes) custom body made of fibreglass. Combine all this with a 130mph top speed, and you have to wonder why it’s a tenth the price of a DB5. I think there may be a snob factor involved because of the American power.

    I love this era of hybrids. I also have a Monteverdi, a Swiss car with a Chrysler 440, a four-speed manual and a two-door Frua body from Italy. It was bought new, right off the floor, at the Geneva show where it premiered in 1970. I bought it, years later, for less money than the Dodge Challenger with the same engine and transmission made at the Barrett-Jackson auction.

    Not all hybrids are bargains, as the Cobra proves. Yet a #Gordon-Keeble , a #TVR , a #Sunbeam-Tiger , a #Bristol-407 – if you ever see one of those for a reasonable amount of money, grab it! Because a lot of people read this magazine.

    ‘I LIKE TO THINK OF MY JENSEN AS A DODGE DART GTS THAT WENT TO OXFORD. IT’S THE IDEAL COMBINATION’
    • Mr. Leno: Welcome to the world of CV8 ownership, from an old lag, 39 years in this June! I alsofollow your deliberations on Jay Leno's Garage and in tMr. Leno:
      Welcome to the world of CV8 ownership, from an old lag, 39 years in this June! I alsofollow your deliberations on Jay Leno's Garage and in the Hagerty Magazine with considerable interest. Thank you for your stellar endorsement of these hugely underappreciated motor cars.

      I was interested in your comments about the, er, controversial front end styling of the car, which MOTOR notoriously called "a competent design masquerading as the ugliest car in the world. CV8s may have been at first intended to have covered headlamp nacelles, but Mark I and Mark II cars, while lacking covers, DO enjoy fully ducted nacelles that feed cold, high pressure air from slots under all four headlamps into the doubled walled inner front wings, whence they feed cold air to footwell vents in the interior, and to the transmission tunnel, since CV8s have something of a heat dissipation issue. That tranny tunnel air blows out into the low pressure at the back of the car via the slotted rear apron, which your Mark III retains. AFAIK, Mark III cars, having been revised to use four 5.25 inch headlamps instead of two with 2 seven-inch, no longer have this areo detail. In fact, the CV8 enjoys the same drag coefficient -so I'm told- as a Porsche 928S. Eric Neale was a downy bird, indeed!

      My own car (104/2308. also blue) is a truly venerable Mark II, having been road registered and used for all of its 54 years (39 with me). If you are curious, it somehow became a vehicle of record on Wikipedia, despite its many modifications and manifest patina. Check it out online by all means.

      Please feel free to post me directly at .......@gmail.com if you care to extend this correspondence. If you are ever in Nova Scotia, I offer free beer and tech support for any passing Jensen owners.
      Warm Regards,
      Ray Whitley
        More ...
      4 weeks ago
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    Going back to its spiritual home

    / #1998-Aston-Martin-DB7-Volante / #1998 / #Aston-Martin-DB7-Volante / #Aston-Martin-DB7 / #Aston-Martin

    SANJAY SEETANAH

    Graham Darby, general manager of Aston Martin Works in Newport Pagnell, had been following our adventures in the DB7 and invited me to see the new showroom and all the facilities. I was keen to visit the car’s ancestral home and set off on a wet Monday morning with trepidation in the knowledge that I would surely get stuck on the M1. The car behaved itself, though I spotted an annoying leak in the passenger footwell when it was chucking it down.

    The new facilities and showroom are across the road from the original Sunnyside headquarters, and as you round the corner you’re greeted with what can only be described as a five-star hotel for Astons (pictured right). The car park brimmed with customers’ cars and the forecourt was clearly designed to tempt you into the inevitable upgrade. Inside the reception area, the huge glass partition allows customers to view the technicians working away in a meticulously clean environment. As a customer’s car arrives, it is met by a consultant who parks it in an inspection bay; from the spotless floor emerges the otherwise invisible ramp, raising the car for its examination.

    At this point I held my breath... This was the first opportunity I’d had to look underneath the DB7, which had covered almost 120,000 miles. And so I braced myself for bad news.

    But senior technician Paul Wild poked and prodded and, to my relief, said the car was in surprisingly good condition. The corroded rear suspension springs would benefit from replacement and, as they are becoming increasingly difficult to find, as soon as possible; the job would transform the feel and behaviour of the car instantly. He told us not to make the mistake of buying Jaguar XJS versions as they are a few centimetres longer and would make the car handle terribly.

    I mentioned the leak in the footwell and Paul took a look. Turns out the drain chutes were blocked; they need to be cleared regularly.

    Graham was pleased I'd brought the car along and remarked that if the cars are used regularly and serviced properly they run without any unreliability issues, and that’s probably why my DB7 is still in such great shape for its year.
    As the days get shorter, I know that the opportunity to enjoy the DB7 will become limited, but I am determined to use it as much as possible. Can’t wait for some of those crisp winter mornings - so long as they’re not so crisp that the roads are gritted.
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    John May
    It would have seemed so simple back then. #Aston-Martin wanted to make its already-special #Aston-Martin-DB4 GT even more race-competitive. Milan-based coachbuilder #Zagato had years of experience of reclothing exotic machinery in lightweight bodywork. Boom! The two came together and the result was their first collaboration, the #Aston-Martin-DB4-GT-Zagato .

    Would Aston Martin’s #David-Brown and #Ugo-Zagato have had even an inkling that the union would be revisited four more times over the following six decades and that the cars would become among the most collectible ever made? Of course not. They just wanted a faster race car for the next season. And faster it was, thanks to a substantial weight saving over the DB4 GT, itself a special, short-wheelbase version of the standard DB4. Yet it was also stunningly different from its elegant donor; aggressive and purposeful, yet erotically curvy, with every feature exaggerated.
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    An Aston that Sellers itself

    / #1961-Aston-Martin-DB4GT / #Aston-Martin-DB4GT / #Aston-Martin-DB4 / #Aston-Martin / #1961

    For sale at RM Sotheby’s, London, September 5, rmsothebys.com Why buy it? One of just 75 built, this is the actual DB4GT that starred so memorably in Peter Sellers’ crime caper The Wrong Arm of the Law. It is also believed to have been owned by Sellers. Fitted in period with a 4.0-litre engine, it has more recently been restored to a very high standard. Collectors’ gold. Estimate tba
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    Time for an #Aston-Martin-DB7-Vantage ? #Aston-Martin-DB7 / #Aston-Martin /

    Quentin mentioned the easing of DB9 prices a couple of issues ago, noting that they had fallen close to DB7 values. With a degree of inevitability, that had a knock-on effect on DB7s, especially the #V12 Vantages. These have also now slipped a bit – there are only so many potential #Aston-Martin buyers in any given price bracket. The drop is most noticeable in less-than-perfect examples, with both coupés and convertibles now being sold for as little as £15,000 if their mileage or history aren’t in the gilt-edged category.

    What it does perhaps do is put them in the range of more people who might want to take a punt and place a fat tick in that ‘I’ve owned an Aston’ box. They are now a very real alternative to a hot TVR or Jaguar XKR. But as ever, buy with care.
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    Happy times on the way for Aston Martin DB7 buyers / #Aston-Martin-DB7 / #Aston-Martin / #Aston-Martin-DB7-Volante / #1997-Aston-Martin-DB7-Volante / #1997 /

    VALUE 2012 £32K
    VALUE NOW 2018 £29K

    Time to look carefully at the DB7 market. Anglia Auctions sold two in June – a ’1997 Volante in maroon with 55k miles and dealer history for £20,140 and a very fresh ’1998 Coupé in Mendip Blue, 12-year ownership, large history file and 34k miles for £26,500. Both cars feel good value at this money. Also in June, CCA sold a ’1995 Coupé in Jet Black with 72k miles for £15,400, while Barons drew £15,180 for a #2002-Aston-Martin-DB7-Vantage-Volante-Automatic #V12 Volante Vantage auto in Buckinghamshire Green with 96k.

    Auction prices have fallen of over the last few months and even an exceptional car such as the mint 28k-mile 2000 Vantage Coupé that Historics sold in May made only £29k. I also see a softening reflected in some private ads such as the seller in Littlehampton offering a ‘superb’ Meteorite Silver ’1995 auto coupé with 42k miles for a very reasonable £23,250. With negotiation, that one might sell for £20k.

    This downward step in values is caused by too many cars on the market, but their intrinsic appeal hasn’t changed – they’re still one of Ian Callum’s most inspired designs, radiate unmistakable Aston DNA and, if you can find a V12 Vantage manual, good for 186mph. Higher prices over the last couple of years means many were treated to expensive refurbs and quality servicing, so look for stamped histories and thick service portfolios.

    There are close on 200 DB7s for sale in the UK, so the market is in the buyer’s favour. We may even see a time in the next 12 months when early sub-60,000 3.2 auto coupés start popping up at £17k. Happy days. Watch and wait.
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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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    ADS ON TEST Aston DB7 Vantage Volante £65,500
    This DB7 boasts the V12 engine, very low mileage and a great history, so does it justify top money? Malcolm McKay

    / #2002-Aston-Martin-DB7-Vantage-Volante-Automatic / #2002 / #Aston-Martin-DB7-Vantage-Volante-Automatic / #Aston-Martin-DB7-Vantage-Volante / #Aston-Martin-DB7-Vantage-Automatic / #2002-Aston-2002-Martin-DB7-Vantage-Volante / #Aston-Martin-DB7 / #Aston-Martin / #Aston-Martin-DB7-V12 / #Aston-Martin-V12 / #V12

    Aston DB7 ads tested

    The property of one caring owner until recently, this DB7 is being sold on behalf of its second owner, a keen Aston man. His wife refused to ride in his old Astons in case they broke down, so he looked for the ultimate DB7 to satisfy her preference for a ‘modern, reliable’ car. Apparently she sat in it once, announced she didn’t like it and would never get in it again.

    Registered on 1 September 2002, the car has always been maintained by the main dealer HWM, which supplied it new. Extras on the order included 19in sport wheels, mesh grille, Touchtronic transmission, sports exhaust and leather hood cover (not available when we photographed the car, but it will be sold with it). It was religiously serviced every year – all in the history file, with the original order and bill of sale – despite covering fewer than 1000 miles a year. The current mileage stands at 13,095, just 45 more than when it passed its last MoT in September.

    There is a tiny amount of corrosion just visible on the windscreen wiper mechanism and the wood-trimmed panel over the 12v socket is darker than the rest – though original, it looks a little out of place. The dashtop trim has wrinkled over the top of the instrument binnacle, but Classicmobilia will get this sorted out before sale. A slight mark on the driver’s seat bolster should disappear with valeting. Even the normal bugbear of low-mileage cars, old tyres, doesn’t apply in this case – the car wears a matching set of top spec Yokohama Advan Sports, front 245/35ZR19 and rear 265/30ZR19, dated 51_15, 01_16 and 09_16. Needless to say, they are virtually unworn and the MoT history reveals they were replaced due to concerns over cracking on the original set.

    Turn on the ignition and press the starter button (this Aston thinks it’s a MkII Jag!) and the big V12 instantly bursts into life. In keeping with the modern boulevardier character of the car, it’s more of an expensive hum than a cacophony of chains and gears. The massive torque means that a gentle, measured application of throttle is best in the cold and wet, but once the tyres grip the engine pulls cleanly with no hint of misfire.

    With the top up, there are no untoward mechanical noises – this car feels as civilised and reined as it should. Every control works correctly, and the car is blissfully easy and relaxing to drive. Pull up, put the handbrake on (don’t forget it when you pull away again) and release two catches at the front; the hood then opens – and closes again – smoothly.

    If you are looking for a really smart convertible V12 Aston with impeccable history, and aren’t too bothered about the ultimate GT spec (the GT’s extra 20bhp and ultimate brakes would be barely discernible on the race track let alone on the road, whereas today’s roads would constantly remind you of the harder suspension), then this could be the DB7 for you. Just get your wife to check it out before you commit to buy…

    CHOOSE YOUR ASTON DB7

    Aston’s rebirth under Ford saw the #Aston-Martin-DB7-Vantage launched in 1993 with a supercharged Jaguar-derived 3.2-litre straight-six, XJS-based chassis and styling by Keith Helfet and Ian Callum. The DB7 Volante followed in 1996, with a stiffened body and electric five-layer hood. DB7 Vantage arrived in 1997 using a V12 developed by Cosworth, mated to a five-speed auto or six-speed manual transmission.

    Touchtronic option for the auto arrived in 2000. In 2002 Aston added the ultimate V12 GT/GTA option with 435bhp, big Brembo discs, stiffer suspension, mesh grille, bonnet vents and boot spoiler; and also the short-chassis DB7 Zagato. 2003 saw various special editions built before DB7 production ended in December.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS 2002-Aston-Martin-DB7-Vantage-Volante-Automatic

    Price £65,500
    Contact Classicmobilia, Bucks (07889 805432, classicmobilia.com)
    Engine 5935cc, V12, dohc
    Max Power 414bhp @ 6000rpm / DIN nett
    Max Torque 400lb ft @ 5000rpm / DIN nett
    Performance Top speed: 165mph; 0-60mph: 5sec
    Fuel consumption 16mpg
    Length 4692mm
    Width 1830mm

    Generous specification includes optional 19in wheels and mesh grille. Nitpicking needed to find any interior issues. No hints of any costly V12 problems.

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    SHOWROOM STARS #Aston-Martin-One-77 / #2016 / #Aston-Martin / #2016-Aston-Martin-One-77 / £1,800,000

    Aston Martin Works, UK. +44 (0)1908 610620, www.astonmartinworks.com

    The economics of buying a brand new car outright still make little sense in general – the AA reckons that the average new car is worth just 40% of the purchase price after three years – but in recent times several hypercars have demonstrated that not everything loses value the moment it is driven away from the showroom. Defying the depreciation curve with particular belligerence is the Aston Martin One-77, a £1.2-million machine when delivery began in 2011, and even more expensive in the UK once Her Majesty’s Government had added VAT at 20%.

    It was easy to understand why the price tag was so large, though: each of the 77 cars built was completed to the buyer’s specification inside and out, and beneath the handcrafted aluminium body was an awe-inspiring 750bhp V12, then the most powerful naturally aspirated petrol engine in the world. (That title now belongs to the 6.2-litre 770bhp unit in the Ferrari F12tdf but, if the factory figures are to be believed, the One-77 is nonetheless the quicker car, topping out at a tyre-shredding 220mph.)

    It was devastatingly attractive, too – very recognisably a post-DB9 Aston, but with a don’t-mess, all-business aesthetic of its own. Unsurprisingly, in the years since 2011, those who were unable to secure a One-77 when new have been prepared to pay handsomely to acquire a used car. Handsomely enough, in fact, that values are already far north of the new price.

    ‘Used’ is probably the wrong word, for there are not many One-77s in the world that are driven regularly. Indeed, the car currently available through Aston Works has done just 900 miles, and presents in correspondingly pristine condition.

    Its first owner picked a combination of Pearl Black paint over a silver-and-black interior. That wouldn’t have been our choice, but we needn’t worry about that: not only do we not have £1,800,000 to spend, but the car is also unlikely to be available for long. The market shows that the world’s car enthusiasts have conferred classic status on the One-77 already. Getting hold of one will only get harder.
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