The Road To Restoration
This is a special Aston Martin, both in its creation and life on the road. Nicknamed “Halsey” this Aston’s been driven far and often in all sorts of weather and at good speed. It is fair to say that enthusiasm and Aston reverence best tell it’s 3 owner’s stories.
“In my teens I fell in love with Aston Martin DB4s. 20 years on, it is 1983 when friend Nick Candee informed me about then AMOC (Aston Martin Owners Club) Secretary, Halsey Bascom’s DB4 Drophead. It had just undergone an expensive engine rebuild and was for sale to the right buyer on a special basis: Buy engine rebuild, car comes free!.. I’ll take it!
Ms. Bascom car was DB4 #1071/L’s 2nd owner. We soon found Halsey and Aston in Paoli, PA. Deal done!!, we set off in our prize now appropriately named “Halsey” back home to Ohio, noting a few more problems than just the engine rebuild we “purchased” with the free car as an incentive.
HOWEVER, we had my dream car and we’ve enjoyed it immensely ever since!!” We soon learned that this was a rare Aston Martin being one of only 4 left hand drive Series IV DB4 drop head coupes (convertibles) produced with the SS engine. Further, There were only a grand total of only 13 left hand drive Series IV & V DHCs with the desirable SS engine upgrade. Though “mud” brown when purchased in 1983, it was originally finished in Goodwood green with green interior and fawn Everflex top just as you see it now. What could be more British? Clearly Pierre Raymond, it’s Montreal based original owner had elegant, reserved Grand Touring taste having specified these details and added the extra GO from the enhanced SS engine.
HERE’S WHERE WE START. Aston Martin Owners Club Annual Meet, Lime Rock Connecticut, Summer 2012. Great stories, years and years of Fuller fun had given it that comfortable, preserved and well used patina. Noting that the car was enthusiastically driven to Lime Rock from Cleveland, Ohio…no trailer... sure hits the right note!
SERVICED AND CARED FOR, YES; but not altered - DB4C/1071/L was very original. Once apart, we found all its original components. Though paint and trim had undergone a mud brown re-think at some point, there was plenty of original Goodwood green poking itself out in the shy spots. Inside, bits of the original green hide and carpet were still there. A key ingredient, the special 3 carb high performance engine was per build sheet in all respects, if a bit tired and the overdrive worked. LEFT: Engine stamping per chassis tag and build sheet. Note the red paint and SS designation said to be a factory “dab” .
Below: 1962 DB4C/1175/L. The last LHD DB4C called a Series 5: Sold by RM recently. Note twin carbs despite late chassis number. 1210 DB4s produced: 1071 was delivered 10/10/62. It left the Newport Pagnell works after higher numbers & just before this red and last LHD open DB4. Why so late? It was waiting for its special SS engine from the race shop we are told!
1962 Aston Martin DB4 Series 5 Convertible Chassis Number: DB4C/1175/L Engine Number: 370/1178 Last left hand drive convertible made. The Series DB4 was the last refinement of the model. With a lengthened chassis of 3.5 inches, this added the needed leg and head room to the car. The dash panel had a full array of GT gauges. This car is fitted with a standard 3670cc engine with 2 carburetors. Some extra features on this car are chrome wire wheels, Motorola radio and power aerial. This car is one of forty series five convertibles and the LAST left hand drive convertible made.
FALL 2012: 1071 is in bits…we find quite a few surprises a midst the archaeological dig. Someone was learning to weld and panel shape as seen just above to the right.
BARE METAL REVEALED MORE NEEDED: Once Media blasted we epoxy primed and then we dug in...and in...and in! Some patches went on before that mud brown paint, but a bit of the underlying structure had been left to fend for itself. Note the missing inner rocker structure in photo above left!
DB4C/1071/L PLASTIC MEDIA BLASTED AND THEN PRIMED……JOB DONE! Ooooops. Sorry just could not resist a bit-o-humor here…..but that protective coat of 2 stage epoxy sure hides all the sins and omissions!!
THE REAL REASON CARS LEAK OIL: Years spent driving with that leaky, well worn engine both created Tom’s affordable purchase opportunity and preserved the core structure. Once cleaned we found original Aston red oxide prime coat on solid floors with key rails in good order despite missing sill structure and rear suspension pickups.
THIS CAR REALLY NEEDED RESTORATION: Tom had indeed extracted good value for money driving and tracking his Aston from 1983 to 2012. EVERYTHING was.. well worn. Note here typical conditions found. Yes…it did drive into the shop at the start. In Toms words “A thrilling joy to drive frequently for 30 years as both a high speed tourer and on rare occasions at the Lime Rock Track”
STRUCTURE FIRST: Then that attractive alloy form will have something to keep those lovely lines and under control. Sills, forward cross members, rear suspension pickups, nose and tail alloy skins, oil cooler scoop and mountings all needed careful attention to restore to original form & function.
ALLOY SUPERLEGGERA BODY RESTORED: Nose and grille area are regaining correct shape, outer sills fabricated and fitted and new engine bay panels erase years of holes will be ready soon.
FROM OUR PANEL SHOP AND INTO THE PAINT SHOP: Tom’s DB4 is soon to have it’s distinctive original Goodwood green color.
PAINTED: December 2013 and what an improvement. Polishing above underway, scoop set right, and just a bit of painting of parts to do below.
ASSEMBLY & ART OF THE AUTOMOBILE - This jigsaw puzzle is fun. Seeing a thoroughbred Aston come back to life is, well, MOST REWARDING!
The special Vantage engine, # 370/1023/SS - Tom (Brown that is) finishes up & affixes the restored David Brown gearbox and slots the whole of it into the restored body assembly...CAREFULLY! Then a perfect start-up!
ASSEMBLY APACE: but hardly fast: Just one part, material, bolt or restored component at a time DB4 1071/L returns to it’s former 1962 Aston Martin glory.
FEBRUARY 2014: SORTING IN PROCESS WITH A BIT OF TEST AND TUNE: New England weather gave us a brief break with most snow gone then a good freeze to keep salt and mess at bay. Off on the road this Aston went with a bit of minor refinement. The car you are looking at reflects a great deal of era and marque enthusiasm, care, and attention to original specifications.
EXHIBIT 2014, Amelia Island Concours: Clockwise from upper left: Tour ribbon & driven in style! – Onto the field Saturday – On exhibit Sunday as Tom & Nita celebrate. Good times enjoyed and driven well!