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From The Archive

Aston Martin DB5

Aston Martin Works, the iconic carmaker’s restoration garage, takes us on a two-year journey from bare metal to on the road

In February 1972, Mr David Ettridge, an active member of the Aston Martin Owners Club, paid £1,500 for a 1964 DB5 Sports Saloon in metallic Sierra Blue. With its all-aluminum engine, electric windows and five-speed transmission, the DB5 made up a small but very lovely collection of sports cars he owned and stored at a garage by his home in Sidford, East Devon. Over a period of seven years Mr Ettridge tallied up a modest 9,944 miles on the Aston’s clock. Then, perhaps due to rising fuel costs or economic downturns, the car sat relatively untouched for almost 30 years, except for the attentions of an opportunist mouse that made a home for itself from shredded newspaper in the engine.

When Mr Ettridge passed away in March 2011 his daughters set about selling off his estate. In the barn, lay quite a discovery; the DB5, in a rare, time-warped condition. The same year, the unrestored car (one of only 1,023 such cars ever made) was put up for sale at the annual Bonhams Aston Martin Works auction. It sold for £320,700. For those that struggle with the math, that’s more than 200 times the price it was bought for. Now that’s a nice investment.

It takes the patience of a panda breeder and pockets as deep as the Mariana Trench to own a classic car. But on a sunny day on an open road with a pretty girl, those lucky enough to do so wouldn’t have it any other way. Classic cars are a love affair. They require all-consuming desire and dedication. Happily, right now, they also offer a substantial (and enjoyable) investment opportunity for those with the gall. While gold is lovely, bullion isn’t going to get you down to that wedding at Babington House this weekend and it’s certainly not going to catch the discerning eye of the pretty lady dining alfresco at Scott’s. A classic adds a certain warmth and charm to life’s proceedings.

Choosing the right classic is essential of course. No point forking out those life savings on something that will fade in looks and popularity. According to those in the know, motors from the 1950s and 1960s are seeing the strongest uplift. “We are seeing very high prices achieved at classic car auctions for exclusive marques such as Ferrari and Aston Martin, especially cars from the 1950s with racing provenance and in exceptional original or restored condition,” said jewellery and fine arts underwriter Ms Patricia Watling in a 2014 interview.

  • Sir Sean Connery perched on his infamous DB5 on the set of Goldfinger, 1964 Kobal Collection

Rest assured, the DB5, known best for being the first Aston Martin and perhaps the most famous James Bond car after appearing in six films in the series (driven by Sir Sean Connery in Goldfinger first in 1964), can be safely classed as a secure and very rare investment. This year Aston Martin Works, who signed the original James Bond deal in its modest town-house offices in 1962, will complete just three full DB5 restorations. Last year, it was just one. “It’s the most famous car in the world. It’s timeless and as such very much in demand. I’m regularly finding one or two DB4s or DB5s a year that are ripe for restoration,” says Mr Tim Schofield, head of collector’s motorcars, Bonhams UK, who looked over the sale of the fabled Ettridge barn-find DB5 in 2011. “Buying one at auction, however, is a huge leap of faith. Not that it stops people from doing it. There’s something terribly romantic about a barn-find like Mr Ettridge’s.”

To discover the process behind a full restoration, we visited the long-standing team at Aston Martin Works as they went about the two-year process of giving a 1964 DB5 in iconic silver-birch (a classic in every sense of the word) a full overhaul. From panel beater Mr Charlie Briggs to trimmer Mr Chris Brewer, we think you’ll agree that it’s a combination of serious skills and whole lot of love that makes them the best at what they do. Click on the film, above, to see them at work.

This year’s Bonhams Aston Martin Works auction takes place on 9 May