Aston Martin’s Newport Pagnell Works facility — one of the oldest automobile manufacturing sites in the world, according to Aston Martin — played host earlier this month to the 18th annual Bonhams Aston Martin Sale, which features Aston cars and automobilia exclusively.
Although the last car built here rolled off the line in 2007, production will soon commence again with the neo-classic DB4 GT continuation series of cars. Until then, there were plenty of classic Astons available at the Bonhams event.
One of our favorites of the day was Lot 240, a 2004 V-12 Vanquish that was among the last cars to be built at the Newport Pagnell factory. This particular car shows only around 6,000 miles of use and has been given a few of the Vanquish S model’s cosmetic upgrades, including the revised dashboard and some badges, though it does not have the S model’s extra 70 horsepower. The Vanquish sold for $118,112, and we hope the owner might have some room left in the budget to replace the paddle-shift manual transmission with a full manual conversion, a service Aston Martin Works is happy to offer — for a price.
The auction’s top-seller was Lot 209, a 1964 DB5, the only DB5 at the event. Delivered new to Glasgow, Scotland, in 1964, the seller bought the car in 1972 when he was just 21 years old and drove it regularly until the late ’90s. It shows signs of that usage, with a somewhat scruffy looking engine compartment and both wear and light staining to the light-colored interior. Many DB5s are resprayed silver to match the famous example in the James Bond movie series, so it is refreshing to see this one carry fresh medium-blue paintwork commissioned just last year. The best DB5s in the world are now million-dollar-plus cars, but this one in “driver condition” with some mechanical and cosmetic needs sold well at $727,995.
A 1996 V8 Sportsman Estate was one of the more unconventional cars at the sale. Based on a period V8 Coupe, this shooting-brake version is one of only three built and one of two special ordered by a pair of Swiss brothers. This car has an interesting history, with the engine rebuilt by the factory after just 6,000 miles before being sold to its next owner. Today, the Sportsman presents very well and would make a unique addition to a serious Aston Martin collection. It seemed a fair deal at $437,575 considering both its rarity and that it sold in the U.K. with a strong market for estate cars.
If you’re current on your tetanus shot and were looking for a project car, Lot 202, a 1957 DB2/4 Mk II, sold for $70,822, a little more than its low estimate. This once-handsome Aston was parked for engine repairs in the 1970s after passing through a handful of owners. It now appears to need a full restoration, including plenty of rust repair. Ten years ago, this probably would have been a parts car, broken up by a specialist. With the value for a strong DB2/4 in the mid-$200,000 range, it’s unlikely the buyer will be able to restore this example for any amount close to what a ready-to-drive car would bring. The seller won this round.
Last but not least, the car we would most like to get some seat time in was Lot 236, a 2000 Vantage Le Mans. Number 29 of just 40 examples built, the Vantage Le Mans was built to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Aston’s 1959 win at Le Mans with Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori behind the wheel of a DBR1/2. Styling accents, including the ducts in the hood and the vented front fenders, recalled the race-winning car, and the 5.3-liter supercharged V-8 was uprated to 604 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque and was paired to a honest-to-goodness six-speed manual gearbox. The Vantage Le Mans brought a healthy $401,272.
1964 Aston Martin DB5: $727,995
1961 Aston Martin DB4 “Series III” 4.2-liter: $517,440
1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante “X-Pack” 7.0-liter: $502,919