It’s not about the money
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.