Best of British
a small SELECTION of the british cars i have fond memories of..
Over the years I’ve had the honour of working on some of the most amazing British machines. Some date as far back as the early 1900’s, I’ve detailed British cars from virtually every decade since. To see first hand and up close the precision engineering that got applied to these machines is at times breath-taking. It’s easy to imagine the craftsman sitting at his or her workbench and turning aluminium on a lathe or beating panels into shape by hand. Its quite sad to have seen British car production shrink or get sold in recent years and I’d like to take this opportunity to recall some of the greatest British cars that have received my treatments.
When detailing extremely valuable historic and classic cars its very
important that I give a great deal of respect and consideration for not only the cars history of where it may of raced or who it may have been driven by, but also for its components and the materials used to construct them. Bare metals and even wood were common-place in most early cars and many of these materials are fragile or susceptible to corrosion or staining if some cleaning products are used. It is therefore crucial that I have the underlying knowledge so as not to cause permanent damage and change the cars appearance for the worse. Imagine how I or the owner would feel if the bare aluminium tub of their historic F1 car had been stained because the wrong product had been used?
Star ‘Gordon Bennett’ 1905
James Gordon Bennett was a real person - in fact, with the expansiveness that is appropriate for this story, two real people. The elder James Gordon Bennett was born in Banffshire, Scotland in 1795 and emigrated to the USA, eventually becoming a journalist and founding the New York Herald in 1835. Bennett had a natural talent for journalism and the paper flourished. An editorial in Harper's at the time expressed the opinion that "It is impossible any longer to deny that the city's chief newspaper is the New York Herald". Other rivals, while accepting Bennett's nose for a story, weren't impressed with what they saw as his 'gutter press' methods. In 1836, in a pre-cursor to the cheque-book/kiss-and-tell journalism now popular with tabloid newspapers, he published a notice offering to reward any woman who "will set a trap for a Presbyterian parson and catch one of them flagrante delicito". He was unblushing in what was then seen as improper descriptions of his relationship with his wife - describing her 'most magnificent' figure and publishing details of their wedding and the birth of James Gordon Bennett junior in 1841.
James Gordon Bennett junior grew into a significant promoter and patron of sports, especially those requiring impressive and expensive equipment, for example international motor racing, ballooning and air racing. He gave several sponsorships in these fields, notably the Isle of Man Bennett Trophy races of 1900 to 1905 (subsequently a trials course on the island was named after him). A long-distance hot-air balloon race (The International Gordon Bennett balloon race), which still continues, was inaugurated by him in 1906.
Given that this particular ‘Star’ was a fully working example, extra care needed to be taken when cleaning any moving parts to ensure safe and effective continued use was achievable. Wood was used regularly in early construction as is demonstrated here for the box containing some of the ignition components.
Ulster Aston Martin
In 1927 Aston Martin was taken over by race driver A. C. Bertelli. He designed a 1.5-litre, SOHC engine which would eventually power the LeMans-racing Ulster. Throughout the years the engine was developed to include dry sump lubrication. The Aston Martin Ulster stands as one of the most respected pre-war racecars. It was largely based on the Mark II which came before it. The Ulster had a brief two year race program. During this time they dominated the British Tourist Trophy at Goodwood. In 1934, Ulsters took first, second and third place. The best LeMans result was achieved in 1935. Chassis LM20 raced to third overall which put it first in the 1101 to 1500cc class. After the race efforts, Aston Martin readied a production version of the LeMans cars. Twenty- one of these cars were built of which all are accounted for today.
Bare aluminium has both advantages and disadvantages from a
detailing perspective. It’s comparatively a very soft metal which makes it vulnerable to staining, it can however be highly polished quite easily if that is the desired finish.
Aston Martin DB3-S
The DB3-S was a sports racing car built by Aston Martin and was introduced in 1953. Following the failure of the heavy and uncompetitive Aston Martin DB3 designed by Eberan Eberhorst; William Watson, employed as Eberhorst's assistant, presented an
alternative design to John Wyer, Aston Martin's competitions manager, who's assistance was needed as Eberhorst could well oppose being up-staged. In total 31 cars were made, with 11 works cars and 20 cars being sold for customer use. I’m very lucky to have detailed two of the ‘works’ cars including chassis number DB3S/ 11. Very proud moments it has to be said.
The 11 works cars had chassis numbers from DB3S/1 to DB3S/11, with the 11th works car never being raced by Aston Martin. The 20 customer cars had three digit chassis numbers, from DB3S/101 to DB3S/120. In 1994 a recreation car was assembled from original spare parts at Aston Service Dorset. This car carries the continuation chassis number DB3S/121.
Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Often described as the most beautiful car in the world the DB4 GT was beautified even further by the Italian designers Zagato. The DB4 GT Zagato was introduced in October 1960 at the London Motor Show. It was effectively a DB4 GT, lightened and improved by the Zagato factory in Italy by Ercole Spada. Initially the factory had plans to produce 25 cars, but demand wasn't as strong as expected and production ceased at the 20th unit. Nowadays, due to the rarity and popularity of the DB4 GT Zagato, the cars are worth a considerable amount of money, and at auction they reach well into the many millions.
The popularity of the original DB4 GT Zagato, of which this particular example is one, has resulted in two subsequent waves of cars based on DB4s being rendered into ’Zagatos’ through the cooperation of Aston Martin and the Zagato works in Italy. They are known as ‘Sanction II’ and ‘Sanction III’ cars. Also, an unauthorised but lucrative private industry of modifying original DB4 GTs into ’Zagato’ replicas has arisen as well to meet market demand for high-quality Zagato recreations.
Aston Martin One-77
One of the many things I love about my job is receiving calls to detail cars I’ve never touched before, those I’ve only heard or read about in the press, those that carry huge mystique..
Only 77 examples were produced and following its announcement back in 2008 at the Paris Motor-show they were all sold before construction was completed.
Each car would have a hand crafted aluminium body encasing a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis and would be propelled by a 7.3L V12 churning out a staggering 750bhp. Aston Martin claim that this is the most powerful normally aspirated production
engine in the world. Build quality is up there with the best from what I’ve seen, in the same way a Pagani has you admiring every component and tempts you into dissecting the way it has been made. You almost want to shake the hand of all those craftsmen that have spent thousands of hours putting everything together with such precision. The £1.2m price tag seems slightly less excessive when you get to spend 15 hours working with the One-77, you soon realise the passion and commitment to excellence Aston Martin still possesses. A great deal of mystique surrounds this car, oddly enough AM wouldn’t permit any journalists to test the One-77 when it was launched and that was still the case even after the last car ‘No 77’ had reached its new owner. However EVO magazine managed to drive a privately owned example at Millbrook test facility and on the Welsh lanes late in 2012 giving it a huge thumbs up. This was that car. Hard to describe, but easy for you to appreciate the intense closeness detailing offers. Few people get to spend the time I do with these cars unless they actually own them or work at the factories. Such a privilege...
Some more worth noting,,,
Morgan 3 Wheeler Brooklands Edition
Jaguar Project 7
Bentley Brooklands Coupe
Aston Martin V600 LeMans
Lotus 91 Ex- Mansell
McLaren GTR Chassis 006
Lotus Esprit 300 Sport