Those Little Niggles Will Get You!

Making a car your own - one small step at a time

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Welcome to this edition of the P&L Aston Martin workshop diaries!

As usual, we've got plenty of smaller jobs to work on - vehicles that need various different things done, whether that's a service or a little bit of paint to repair some body work that's been damaged. And generally speaking, no matter what the car has come in for, we will check oil and water levels and tyre pressures anyway, in addition to the blown fuse or the squeaky brakes! We were chatting the other day and we all agreed, sometimes it's the little niggles that determine whether a car is a joy to drive - or constantly gives off that unwelcome "not-quite-right" vibe.

We've done some work recently on a lovely Aston Martin V8 Volante from the late 1980s. The car was restored and rebuilt about five years ago. It hasn't done very many miles but there were some things the owner wanted us to look at.

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So, we've fixed the air conditioning, fixed the indicators which weren't working and got the interior lights functioning properly again - these were constantly on, as if the car doors were open, even when they weren't! Little niggles fixed, the owner picked the car up on Friday and took it to a show at the weekend. Happy days!

We've also been working on a lovely green X-Pack V8 Vantage on a whole list of little niggles. In case you weren't aware, the X-Pack, according to Aston Martin was the name given to the ultimate version of the V8 Vantage saloon, the flagship performance model of the range since it was introduced in 1977. The X-Pack got all the extra goodies built in - so these cars are very special models and there aren't many of them - which is nice if you've got one. We did a pre-purchase check on this car for long-standing customer before it was bought and it comes into the workshop on a regular basis to have various little things fixed or tweaked.  Before our client bought it, it was garaged and not really used. It's very common for these cars to be bought and almost immediately safely tucked away in order to "protect" them. It's only done 30-odd thousand miles - but because it wasn't being driven, there wasn't an opportunity to notice all the small issues with it. Driving on of these cars regularly means you can figure out when something's not quite right. 

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So, on one of his early, much-anticipated weekend drives our client heard a funny noise coming from somewhere which started him thinking... then he found the radio wasn't working properly and the air con wasn't cold enough. Over the last 18 months or so, we've seen the car six or seven times while working through a list of fixes. These have included things like fixing a "wind noise" from one of the doors; and we've now fixed the air con. For this particular client, the clutch was too heavy for his style of driving, so we made the clutch softer. There was also a petrol smell in the boot which we've cured. This turned out to be due to cracked and perished rubbers on the petrol filler connected to the petrol tank in the boot. They're about six inches long and when the fuel goes in, the rubber prevents it from splashing. With no adequate seal, fuel was escaping into the boot. It doesn't need much for that to be noticed!

Now the owner is driving a car he's just getting happier and happier with. It's the nature of these things (and part of the fun of ownership) that he'll always have something he feels would benefit from an expert eye or ear. And that's what we're here for. Little by little, as with the V8 Volante above, we're helping him make it his own.

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Actually, this one is also booked in for a check-over because he and his son are planning to take a trip in the car for a few days. So we have a little project to get the car ready for that and deal with some of the little niggles that might become a pain on a long drive - before they set off. Alongside that, the car gets a general health check to make sure everything's good - tyres checked to make sure they're all in good condition, MOT carried out and so on. We're looking forward to hearing all about it next time the car's in.

This morning we're doing some checks on a DB6 MK2 that we hold in our storage facility for the owners who spend most of the time living and working in the US. While they're making their annual visit this side of the Atlantic, they love to use the car so we'll get it MOT'd, give it a service, check it over and sort out any problems so they can drive it with confidence. It needs to be in good shape and ready to drive as soon as they arrive as it's an essential part of their visit and has to be in the best condition possible. This car is part of what they look forward to when they come over so there's definitely an element of pleasure to using it. They'll want to take it out to meet with friends in the UK, as well as driving it over to France where they have family. We wish them happy driving!


Sometimes it's the little niggles that determine whether a car is a joy to drive - or constantly gives off an unwelcome "not-quite-right" vibe.