RE: Prior Convictions: Forgetting your roots

RE: Prior Convictions: Forgetting your roots

Saturday 16th December 2017

Prior Convictions: Forgetting your roots

Is Aston's return to its former home more than just a nostalgic indulgence?



Sound the bells and break out the bunting, Aston Martin production has officially returned to Newport Pagnell. Of a fashion, at least. The first deliveries of Aston's DB4 GT Continuation model have begun.

Some 25 of these new track-only GTs, built to the same specification as the originals, are to be made, in the same location as the originals, and priced at around £1.5m each. Only 75 DB4 GTs were built between 1959 and 1963, and only eight were lightweight models. They won quite a lot of races, and are the specification to which these new cars will be built.


The Newport Pagnell factory was eventually vacated by Aston's production line in 2007, after the business had already relocated to Gaydon, Warwickshire. Today Newport Pagnell still houses Aston Martin Works, the facility that looks after classic Astons.

Good news, then, for fans of classic Astons who can't spare the £3m-plus a period DB4 GT demands. (Well, good news for 25 of them, anyway.) And good news, too, for those who like to see production, such as it is, returning to Newport Pagnell.

Does it matter, this return of manufacturing to an old stomping ground? It's being billed as something historic but I suspect it doesn't really. I guess it's important in which country Astons Martins are made, for the reason BMW makes Rolls-Royces and Minis here. But I doubt it makes the blindest bit of difference which town. Rolls-Royces were never historically assembled at Goodwood and yet they now make more cars than ever. Some Minis are made in Austria but, because the factory in Oxford churns out more than 200,000 a year, I don't imagine most people really notice.


It's only when writing that sentence that I remembered the Aston Rapide was built in Austria for a time, too. And yet still, via Gaydon and Austria, the company turned out more cars than it ever did at Newport Pagnell or, just as importantly, the places it built cars in the 34 years before it moved there. From a historical significance point of view, it might as well return to Feltham.

Anyway, what of the car itself, this DB4 GT Recreation? Curious thing. I'm sure it'll be terrific, and if you've bought one, I dare say you'll love it to bits. That's all that really matters, isn't it? Because whether it says good or bad things about a company rather depends on your point of view.

Do you see it as an important piece of work in reminding people of Aston's race heritage, for example? A way of showcasing the precious, otherwise vanishing skills of the craftspeople who still work over there? Or do you think it's a relatively easy way to pull £37.5m through the door? I suppose it could be both.


Jaguar also does this Recreation thing, but hardly anyone else does, so I wonder if it's a peculiarly British trait. We do like trading on nostalgia, after all. I can't imagine Ferrari turning out a few more 250 SWBs, for example, or Porsche making a 917 Recreation series. They have the vibe of companies who are more interested in creating new legends than reprising old ones. I mean, they'd probably ask you that, given today's cars are so good, why the hell you'd want yesterday's?

You wouldn't, for example, approach Sony and ask for a moderately-sized television, with a convex screen, mediocre picture quality, only one speaker, and a 150kg box the size of a chicken coop attached to the back of it. Ideally clad it in wood and put it on wheels and make sure I can't adjust it unless I get off the sofa while you're at it, there's a good bunch. I mean, how stupid does that sound? I don't know. Maybe only about as stupid as the fact that I still sometimes use a 48k ZX Spectrum simulator on a new £1,000 laptop. It's complicated, is I suppose what I'm saying.

I suspect, ultimately, then, that in all the talk of history and heritage and craftsmanship and so on, there are only two things that really matter: that the skills stay alive, and that they're worth a not insignificant £37.5m.

Author
Discussion

oilit

Original Poster:

429 posts

112 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
ref: " .......there are only two things that really matter: that the skills stay alive, and that they're worth a not insignificant £37.5m"

There is a third thing, which is that there is quite obviously a market for them, and some people somewhere are prepared to part with their hard earned cash to actually have one.

You also forgot the MGRV8 which was effectively a similar thing - and I am sure there must be others that will come to mind after I have had my 2nd coffee :-)

ducnick

874 posts

177 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
Don’t forget the Lister recreation

sisu

427 posts

107 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all

Anyone who has done a serious restoration of something realises that there is a point where building it new is a viable option than the patchwork of repair panels.
When they are digging them out of feilds it is a bad omen in any car scene.
Aftermarket manufacturers of repair panels or complete shells for cars always has the shadow of knowing that if the original manufacturer starts supplying it then it becomes not just about who has the better quality restoration/replica, but who is the type of owner.
I think they are getting the Lads at Aston to pop a brown jacket on to give it that Goodwood Revival romance as most Aston Martins/morgan/Mclaren/Lotus/TVR have servicing done at the factory and this romantic connection far outweighs the quality of this, even from new anyone who has owned a British sports car from new is aware how bad things are for these new cars and that they just wrap themselves in the Union Jack over bits falling off or not working due to barometric variances.
The question of car manufacturers just building the iconic cars so they can lend them out to car hacks on the Miller Miglia or Classic Lemans to maintain this brand image is more a question of where these car companies see their heritage.
You need to make non roadworthy variants, as 'track only' gets them out of being sued. So odd ball race homologation versions are what they like. I would think that Porsche would be thinking of something like the 550 or a 911ST, '74 rsr IROC race cars as they are shoving £5 notes in the mouth of the MILF that is early 911 history.
Ferrari would probably do this, but only after you show you bought every naff model since 1985.
Lamborghini have just started the polo storico and are looking to show car hacks why they like hexagonal vents.
I don't think Japanese or Swedish car manufacturers would make a carbon copy of their 60's classic as they are a forward thinking culture.

Mike335i

1,955 posts

36 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
I like the idea of recreating classics, they hold an appeal over modern stuff that just can't be matched. It would be great if these cars could be sensibly priced and not just billionaire playthings though.

Why does it matter which country the car is made in, other than that it is made in the best possible way? Seems like patriotic/nostalgic guff to me.

Edited by Mike335i on Saturday 16th December 08:54

grumpy52

3,582 posts

100 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
Will we be seeing them being road tested by men in period coats on early mornings in the summer .
Always a joy on an early morning run to Silverstone to have an Aston blast past on one of the lanes around Newport Pagnell.
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V8 FOU

2,566 posts

81 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
Didn't Brian Johnson drive one of the road-going ones on the telly?
Errr... and it broke down? Well, whaddya expect for £1.5M?



Goodn point about old TV's though.

I always ask the advocates of points ignition / carbs / manual gearboxes if they have a black and white 405 telly at home...

Richair

1,010 posts

131 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
You can't drive a TV, that's the difference. So not a great analogy for me. Driving something from another era makes you feel things a new car won't.

Whilst the provenance of these recreations will always be questionable, I think it's great there's a market for them and hope many will be driven properly!

jhonn

1,055 posts

83 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
Hhmm... I suspect that the buyers of such recreations view their purchases as sound investments, more so than anything else.

AER

976 posts

204 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
This is all about sucking as much bankster money out of the City as possible whilst the sun is still shining.

AdamV8V

1,098 posts

90 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
Strange article scratchchin

Is the author suggesting that the decision to build the car at Newport Pagnell was driven by some kind of nostalgia-fuelled cynicism?

I imagine it’s a purely practical decision, as I’m not sure where else AML would build such a car? Gaydon is currently at full capacity building the last of the Vantages, Vanquishes and Rapides on the ‘heritage line’ (the other production line being purely for DB11), which will then be re-tooled for new Vantage in Q1. St Athan isn’t yet ready, and the only time other facility they own is Newport Pagnell.

That this place is full of people (and equipment) that have been restoring DB cars since 2007, and that many of these men and women were also building AMV8s, Virages, DB7s and Vanquishes pre-‘07, makes it a bit of a no-brainer doesn’t it?


WJNB

1,301 posts

95 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
If you ever have the misfortune to be socialising with Aston Martin owners you will be shocked at the snobbery as to where a members car was built. Purists with early cars smugly point out their car was built at the original factory, Feltham, diehards are proud of the Newport Pagnell connection relating to their cars & Gaydon cars are far too modern & as for any model with Ford/Mazda bits such owners are sneered at behind their backs.

lucido grigio

36,211 posts

97 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
grumpy52 said:
Will we be seeing them being road tested by men in period coats on early mornings in the summer .
Always a joy on an early morning run to Silverstone to have an Aston blast past on one of the lanes around Newport Pagnell.
Article does say "track only" but who's to know with trade plates hanging off one front and rear ?

RoverP6B

3,698 posts

62 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
Sod where it's made, as long as it's in the UK. I'm more concerned about that £1.5m price tag. That's about six times what a decent Eagle E-type costs, and well over double what the Low Drag cost. I realise AM needs to make money, but, as with the Lagonda Taraf, they're really taking the pi$$. Is it too much to hope that something like this could be made accessible to the merely middle class/low-end millionaire types, as opposed to the mega-rich? "Track-only" too, why?! At £1.5m I'd be demanding a V5 and number plates...

ZX10R NIN

11,835 posts

59 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
jhonn said:
Hhmm... I suspect that the buyers of such recreations view their purchases as sound investments, more so than anything else.
I think these will be raced someone who has an original (which will be worth more) would buy one of these with the intention of racing it while the original will sit in the garage.

Francelise

177 posts

165 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
Could always trailer it down to Swansea and get a SVA- and 'Q' plate it!!

Jobs a carrot...!

fph

37 posts

51 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
Aston Martin has done this before in the 80's and 90's with the Sanction II and Sanction III DB4 GT Zagatos.

Goofnik

203 posts

74 months

Saturday 16th December 2017
quotequote all
Richair said:
You can't drive a TV, that's the difference. So not a great analogy for me. Driving something from another era makes you feel things a new car won't.
There actually is a market for CRTs, but it's quite niche.

It's mostly retro video gamers (pre-HDMI) who competitively speed run video games (we do have bi-annual charity events that raise > $1M USD each for charity), *and* the games they speed run tend to require "frame perfect" tricks. The reason being is that older consoles were designed to be based around VBLANK intervals (~60Hz for NTSC, ~50Hz for PAL), whereas newer TVs using LCD technology have a bit of latency (quickest are around 9ms, or a bit more than half an NTSC frame, whereas many sets are 60ms, or nearly 4 NTSC frames) between what the console pushes to its output and before it is displayed on the set. For people with cheap LCD televisions, that near 4-frame delay is the difference between nailing the trick, or hitting the reset switch on the console and starting over, because what's on the screen is actually 60ms in the past (on the console).

However, retro video games have gone the same route as classic cars -- hobbyist upstarts making equipment to drag the old stuff into the modern era. For example, hardware upscalers, new boards that can be installed and take the image directly off the PPU (with no digital-to-analog conversion) and output it over HDMI. For those who remain analog, consoles that used RF adapters or RCA composite video can be modified to output an RGB signal (with composite sync) over a Euro-SCART cable for the cleanest possible analog image to be passed to a set or to a hardware upscaler (to 720p or 1080p over HDMI). What with high-end LCD-based televisions getting better at reducing input latency though, CRTs remain a niche, with the diehards mostly just buying old PVMs/BVMs and not looking to buy a new CRT.

sisu

427 posts

107 months

Sunday 17th December 2017
quotequote all
ZX10R NIN said:
jhonn said:
Hhmm... I suspect that the buyers of such recreations view their purchases as sound investments, more so than anything else.
I think these will be raced someone who has an original (which will be worth more) would buy one of these with the intention of racing it while the original will sit in the garage.
That may be true, but there are also people who own the originals and loath this. As you say most of the people who buy a Bugatti t35 Pursang or this DB4 GT already own the original one, enjoy seeing them on the road being driven. They want others to enjoy this thing that they have.
But there are others who hate this dilution, the DVLA modified car
reform was pushed by Bugatti owners club members not happy at the PurSang T35s being seen as 1930s cars.
As cars are a reflection of your personality it is natural that people enjoy selfishness too.
I would see that there will be those who resent these DB4 GTs and will make a point of excluding these if they can. You can see this in Goodwood and other vintage racing or car events. You won't be invited or have to wait in the que behind the older original cars even if those cars have questionable history to start with

jaykay42

41 posts

110 months

Sunday 17th December 2017
quotequote all
Goofnik said:
There actually is a market for CRTs, but it's quite niche.

It's mostly retro video gamers (pre-HDMI) who competitively speed run video games (we do have bi-annual charity events that raise > $1M USD each for charity), *and* the games they speed run tend to require "frame perfect" tricks. The reason being is that older consoles were designed to be based around VBLANK intervals (~60Hz for NTSC, ~50Hz for PAL), whereas newer TVs using LCD technology have a bit of latency (quickest are around 9ms, or a bit more than half an NTSC frame, whereas many sets are 60ms, or nearly 4 NTSC frames) between what the console pushes to its output and before it is displayed on the set. For people with cheap LCD televisions, that near 4-frame delay is the difference between nailing the trick, or hitting the reset switch on the console and starting over, because what's on the screen is actually 60ms in the past (on the console).

However, retro video games have gone the same route as classic cars -- hobbyist upstarts making equipment to drag the old stuff into the modern era. For example, hardware upscalers, new boards that can be installed and take the image directly off the PPU (with no digital-to-analog conversion) and output it over HDMI. For those who remain analog, consoles that used RF adapters or RCA composite video can be modified to output an RGB signal (with composite sync) over a Euro-SCART cable for the cleanest possible analog image to be passed to a set or to a hardware upscaler (to 720p or 1080p over HDMI). What with high-end LCD-based televisions getting better at reducing input latency though, CRTs remain a niche, with the diehards mostly just buying old PVMs/BVMs and not looking to buy a new CRT.
What a brilliant post: adding a new dimension to an argument, without any patronising, aggression, down putting etc. but rather illustrating a whole world of geeky obsession over technology that presumably many people (myself firmly included) aren't aware of. Car obsession, tech obsession, horses for courses, but talking from geek to geek - just brilliant! Thank you for this, goofnik!

VanquishRider

213 posts

86 months

Sunday 17th December 2017
quotequote all
WJNB said:
If you ever have the misfortune to be socialising with Aston Martin owners you will be shocked at the snobbery as to where a members car was built. Purists with early cars smugly point out their car was built at the original factory, Feltham, diehards are proud of the Newport Pagnell connection relating to their cars & Gaydon cars are far too modern & as for any model with Ford/Mazda bits such owners are sneered at behind their backs.
What utter rubbish. As pretty much every "Heritage" Aston was always a parts bin special. The Lagonda company was purchased for the engine . It's used in the early DB's. Triumph lights on later DB's amongst other components. My mini headlights fit almost every car from the 60's.

Tell me which Older Aston is not a parts bin special?

Edited by VanquishRider on Sunday 17th December 16:43