16 March 2021

The search for a childhood memory: Aston Martin DB5 Convertible

A Merry Motoring reader has shared his memories and the story of an Aston Martin DB5 convertible his dad once owned, in the hope that a reader of this article may have crossed paths with the rare classic. Read Adrian’s story below.

 

Registration: GPC 1 C
Chassis: DB5C/1907/R
Engine: 400/1926

 

“My dad bought the Aston Martin DB5 in 1968, so I would have been 9 years old at the time.

As a kid, I remember picking it up with my family on a very dark wet weekday evening. The pick-up point was strangely Newport Pagnell service station on the M1. We all drove up from Northwood in our family's 1963 Vauxhall Victor Estate and the vendor drove the Aston down from his Birmingham home.

In later years, reminiscing with my dad about the car, he told me that he bought the car off this guy who ran a chain of dry cleaners in the Birmingham area. Apparently, when he got the car home on that wet and nasty night, he discovered a couple of cans of dry-cleaning fluid still left in the boot.

I seem to remember my Dad telling me that the reason the dry cleaner was selling the car was to finance the purchase of a rare chain gang Fraser Nash that had just come available. Another reason, and more probably the real reason, was that the engine sounded like a rattly old tin can, as the timing chain appeared to be very loose.

Obviously, my dad was taking a bit of a chance with a possible very expensive engine rebuild in the offing. Lucky for him though, when he took the car back to the Newport Pagnell factory to be serviced and looked over, the timing chain only needed a bit of adjustment with maybe a new set of guide followers.

So as a 9-year-old boy, you can imagine what an impression this kind of car had on me. I can remember quite clearly some epic journeys in that car down to the West Country on holiday and a day trip up to Chester and back. The best trip though was up to Scotland for a holiday in the highlands, blasting round those roads with the top down was a very memorable time for me.

Unfortunately for me, my dad was beginning to tire of the car, mainly because it was a bit temperamental in heavy London traffic, and threatened on several occasions to sell the car inspite of my protestations. Basically, the car was not being used and kept in a wooden garage slowly deteriorating with mice taking up residence in the back seat. The car was ultimately sold supposedly to a Lloyds insurance broker. However, years later, when I decided to trace the car, I discovered that it was quickly sold to an Australian Qantas airline pilot who kept the car in London to use on his stopovers in the UK.

Eventually, the car was put on a cargo ship from Ramsgate to Sidney where it lived for about 30 years with the Qantas pilot. I wish I could remember his name, as I did correspond with him to find out further information. He said he liked to drive the car rather than pamper it, saying that it was raced on occasions and used for his daughter's wedding. After a long hard drive, it succumbed to gearbox failure apparently, the drain plug had worked loose, and all the oil had drained away.

By this time, the car had become rather valuable, and with a broken gearbox, a sale was brokered to an eventual buyer in the Middle East. As the pilot was close to retirement, he basically cashed in after a very enjoyable 30-year ownership and bought himself a DB4.

The eventual buyer from the Middle East turned out to be Sheikh Nasser of Kuwait, who at the time had the largest collection of Aston Martins in the world, and probably still does. Not surprisingly, the car was shipped back to Newport Pagnell for a complete restoration. Once this had been completed it was shipped out to Kuwait to join the rest of his collection.

This is where my trail ends, as the Kuwaiti Royal family are notoriously private, and despite my further inquiries for pictures etc, I was just met with a wall of silence.

However, in recent years I understand that the Sheikh has been selling off some of his cars. Therefore, I am relating this story in the vain hope that maybe somebody reading this story might recognise this as their car, or more likely somebody who might have been involved in a sale of such a rare car. I would welcome any information.”

Have you come across this Aston Martin DB5 convertible? Or have any experience in finding out the history or journey of a classic you own or have owned then please share your experiences in the comments below.