The rising price of Aston Martins


Am I alone in still goggling at some of the prices paid for Aston Martins at Bonhams’ sale at Newport Pagnell a couple of weeks back?

My eyebrows didn’t shoot north upon discovering that a one-off Giugiaro-bodied DB4GT went for £3.2 million (the highest price ever paid for any Aston at auction) because I’ve long understood that what the truly wealthy covet is the exclusive rather than the merely expensive. The draw is owning something no-one else can own, however rich they may be.

But some of the prices achieved for lesser lots were simply staggering. A barn-find DB5, requiring who knows how much restoration, expected to fetch £150,000 ended up costing its new owner £320,000. I suppose that once it’s been fully rebuilt said owner will at least have a car that is beautiful to look at, pleasant to drive and similar to the one-time daily transport of Britain’s least secret agent, but still.

None of these things can be said about a left-hand drive Mk1 DB6 Volante that managed to reach £460,700 (including premium) before the hammer fell. These cars are rare – only 140 were built – but if the one I drove some years back was any guide, they are deservedly so. Maybe I got a bad example, but it didn’t ride, handle or steer with any great aplomb nor, by late 1960s supercar standards, did it feel very quick. Or look that good.

Then my eyes fell on the DB2/4 MkIII that sold for £214,300. Unlike the DB6, which I think is a substantially overrated Aston Martin, the MkIII is the reverse: a car still caught in the shadows of the DB4 and DB5 but one that, if you like actually driving more than merely swanning about, has considerable appeal. The ultimate development of the DB2 and the last Aston to be produced at Feltham, it’s a pure sports car and quite unlike the more touring-oriented designs that predominately emerged thereafter from Newport Pagnell. Even so, I’ve never seen one go for anything like this kind of money, let alone one that needs “recommissioning” and whose most recent MOT dates from the last century. Nor do I want you to escape with the idea that just because I sold mine a decade ago for barely a tenth of what this car fetched is making me in any way bitter…

Amid all this money (I’ll mention only in passing my bemusement at someone paying £405,000 for a short-wheelbase 2000 Vantage Volante – a car I didn’t rate much even when it was new), there were some cars that looked like value. One of my more guilty secrets is a hankering for a William Towns-styled Lagonda and an example, whose vendor asserted was the equal of any in the world, went for £36,800. Also, surely £135,900 isn’t much to pay for one of only five Zagato convertibles built in the late 1980s and with fewer than 9000 miles on the clock? Finally I was much taken by the V8 Vantage that sold for £98,000. It sounds a lot, but it was Victor Gauntlett’s own car for 10 years, a star I remember from many a magazine article and recently subjected to a 3000-man-hour restoration.

Overall, however, Bonhams clearly did a superlative job for its clients, making the most of the auction’s location in Newport Pagnell and the marque’s centenary to achieve over £10 million of sales and every lot sold. Will prices continue to rise? I’m the last person to ask: had I any prescience in such matters I’d never have sold the bloody MkIII.

For more from Andrew Frankel, click here.

opinions  Autobahns to stay without limits

You may also like