Feb 28 2020

Our Take on Aston Martin Restoration Trends

Aston Martin Restoration Trends

Some things never go out of fashion, and one of them is the timeless appeal of a classic Aston Martin DB4, 5 or 6. That's not to say, however, that there aren't trends that come and go in the specialised field of restoring Aston Martins. And if you think it's all just about tapping out the dents and tuning the engine, then you've clearly never been asked to fit a Recaro seat in the interior of a DB4 - but more on that later.

To Restore or Not to Restore

The first trend to address is the question of whether to bother restoring Aston Martins at all. It may be hard to believe now when restoration is often the only way anyone outside the orbit of the super-rich could ever end up owning a vehicle like an Aston Martin DB5, but there was a period, 30 or 35 years ago when the most likely course of action on finding an older Aston Martin would be to turn it into a racing car. Back then it would be worth more as a racing car than as a road car, whereas now those self-same race cars are being converted back into road cars because the relative valuations have switched. Why tamper with an Aston Martin road car worth four, five or six hundred thousand when, for seventy thousand, you can pick up a 20-year old ex-touring BMW and have all the racing fun you like?

Aston Martin in Workshop

Engine Size

So yes, restoration is now the path to go down, and if there's one trend which overarches everything we're going to talk about here, it's what you might call authenticity; restoring the car by returning it to its original condition. From the colour of the car to the wheels, interior trim and engine size, it's all about recreating what made you fall in love with Aston Martins in the first place. That's not to say we won't move away from the template if it's what a customer wants. If they want a 4.2 bored out engine in a DB4 or a 4.7 litre engine in a DB6, then we can make it happen, and there was a period when that was more likely to be the case. Here and now, however, some people having a DB4 restored want it restored with a 3.7 litre engine. 

Take a Seat

Take a look at the sentence up above, where it says that we do whatever the customer wants. For a while, that meant putting more modern seats into DBs, and we did it, even if it was with gritted teeth. Some people have asked us to fit Recaros in their Aston Martin, however, that's something we've never done! The Recaro seat situation is an example of the customer always being right - until they're completely wrong, and the good news is that it's not something that happens any more. The same goes for...

Steering Wheels

As far as we're concerned if it's an Aston Martin and it's being restored to its former glory then the steering wheel should be in the original wood. For a while, though, cars would come in to us having been re-fitted with a steering wheel boasting a black leather rim and shiny aluminium middle. As far as we're concerned, that's just wrong, and customers now seem to agree with us. If you're dealing with motoring perfection, then there's not really much point trying to 'improve' it, and all of these trends are recognition of the fact that the best way to truly restore an Aston Martin is to enable it to shine and shine properly. 

Aston Martin Restored Interior

The Bodywork

The trend here for many is to take the cars back to their original colour. We happen to think that a DB5 painted red or a DB6 in primrose yellow can look fantastic given a great paint job, but most people stick with the tried and tested, like James Bond-style silver for a DB5. We've actually seen a DB6 Volante which had been beautifully restored to mauve – the original colour – and didn't really like it, but customers know what they want, and that's why the majority of car dealers, nine times out of ten, will go for 'silver birch' silver.  

The Interior

Those same dealers often make the mistake of opting for cheaper stretch leather on the seats rather than the original high-quality Connolly leather. This is a mistake for two reasons. Firstly, it may look good to begin with, but after some use it will start to go baggy and look terrible! Secondly, we now find our customers are looking out for it and make a point of asking if their car has got the right kind of leather in it. If it hasn't, they want it trimming back and replacing. You're dealing with a very discerning customer-base and working with the original high-quality materials not only increases the value of the vehicle it enhances the experience of owning it. A big part of loving an Aston Martin DB lies in the care, quality and attention to detail that's been lavished on the interior and the aesthetic appeal this results in. If you're going to instigate changes that make it look like a Triumph TR 7 then, frankly, you're missing the point of liking an Aston Martin DB. 

Safety

Of course, looking fantastic is one thing, but drivers still want the highest safety standards for themselves and their passengers. This means installing inertia seatbelts but doing so in a way that doesn't compromise the look of the car. Aston Martins were originally designed with either simple static lap belts or even no belts at all. Our job is to fit the safer belts in such a way that the bulk of the belt material and reel is hidden, so drivers don't have to untangle themselves every time they get in and out of the car. Safety is more than a trend, of course, it's a sensible move and a legal requirement, but the issue we deal with is guaranteeing safety in a way that doesn't disrupt the minimalist aesthetic of the car interior. 

Sounds

When it comes to providing a soundtrack for the Aston Martin experience, there was a time when people asked for a modern sound system to be fitted, but that's all changed. Customers still crave the sound quality but want the delivery system completely hidden. Fortunately, you can now put the workings of a state of the art audio system behind the fascia of an original DB4, 5 or 6 radio, and we can fit an original DB5 radio in such a way that you can simply plug your iPhone in and listen that way. Another solution we'd suggest is leaving the interior of your car in one piece and just putting your headphones on – the added bonus being that you won't be inflicting your choice of music on anyone else. 

Wheels

The trend now is for original wire wheels all the way. Alloy wheels floated around for a while, but now it's wire; with the majority of people opting for chrome over-painted. In fact, if we wanted to sum up what our customers are looking for in an Aston Martin restoration in just a few words, it would be – 'chrome-plated', 'polished' and 'shined'.

Aston Martin wheel

When it comes to authenticity, meanwhile, we've had some customers who were so keen on keeping things real that they wanted to retain the original dealer sticker in the window, even though it was scrappy and worn. Exceptions include fitting Radial rather than Cross Ply tyres – because the latter tend to 'tramline' terribly along cracks and faults in the road – and opting for aluminium radiators and electric fans to fend off the risk of overheating and the issue of travelling with boiling feet on a hot summers day.

It's about the best of all worlds – the style class and sheer beauty of the original cars, enhanced with the safety and performance of modern engineering. That's the trend – to feel and look classic and drive modern.

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