When I get the go ahead to pick up an Aston Martin DB9 GT, the final-ever model in the infamous DB9 range, to say I’m excited is an understatement of Biblical proportions. And who wouldn’t be?
With a history so entwined with the essence of what it means to be British, Aston Martin have always risen above the flashiness of the supercar industry. They produce automobiles of untouchable elegance, poise, masculinity and quality. So when the jet-black beauty arrives, I bound out of the door to stare admiringly at a vehicle that’s all mine, if only for the next few days at least.
An Auction for Aston Martin Fanatics
And the reason I have this wondrous machine? ‘The Aston Martin Sale,’ of course. For the past 17 years, Aston Martin, in collaboration with Bonhams, have held the infamous auction at the original factory in Newport Pagnell. Needless to say, this is a huge event in the automotive calendar, with some of the rarest, most stunning vintage Aston’s going up for auction.
Dealers and collectors travel from all corners of the globe to attend, with the hope of bagging a piece of automotive history. And this year I joined their ranks in the Aston Martin DB9 GT to get a feel for what life in is like in the inner circle.
Inside the Aston Martin DB9 GT
The 6 litre V12 sitting outside my house radiates an ethereal halo as the sun reflects off the paintwork. I’m nervous to get behind the wheel; nervous with anticipation to release the 550 ponies under the bonnet. Stooping low to slide inside, the smell of fresh leather is overpoweringly joyous.
The hand-stitched seat embraces me for the first time and I feel completely at ease in this £140,000 machine. Aston Martin, being Aston Martin, has the ‘hand-built vehicle’ down to a T. From the suede steering wheel, which offers perfect grip for when, inevitably, your palms start to sweat with adrenaline, to the brushed-steel control panel and exquisite centre-console ignition system. Another element to sitting inside the Aston Martin DB9 GT, and one I hadn’t thought about before, was the attention to detail of the lighting. Everything lightly glows, like the cockpit of a fighter-jet, or a vehicle from TRON.
When I finally get round to starting her up, I slide the key-fob into the illuminated ignition, press down, and hear the engine roar to life and purr contently, itching to be let free. It’s not very often that you notice and feel your own smile, but I’m overtly aware of just how spectacular this entire process is.
Who Needs “Normal Mode”?
Of course, there is the option for ‘Normal Mode’, whereby the engine softens. The automatic transmission changes the gears at lower rpms, and the wicked sound of the V12 is somewhat muted. How very gentlemanly of Aston Martin, if I do say so myself. But for my enjoyment, it’s straight into ‘Sport Mode’ for vastly superior engine growls, razor quick acceleration and unperturbed racing handling. I vow at this moment that I’m going to drive in ‘Sport Mode’ for the entire trip, a vow I do maintain.
I’m dying to get out of London, it’s so frustrating to sit in city traffic in such a phenomenal car, so after collecting my brother, who gazes enviously from the moment he sees it to the moment we part ways, some three days later, we head for the countryside. And wow! When you put your foot down, you’re plastered to the back of your seat instantaneously, as if being propelled into outer space. I quite literally whoop with excitement.
Aston Martin at The Auction
And so to Newport Pagnell for the auction. Approaching this small town is odd, and almost anticlimactic, that is until every Aston Martin under the sun suddenly fills my field of vision. We park, head for lunch, and quickly join the auction, with reserved seating on the front row. How very special we feel.
In the auction room, which is normally one of the main workshops, every vehicle for sale is proudly displayed. Fans adoringly stare through the windows, under the bonnets and circle like vultures around a carcass. But you honestly can’t help it, all of these models are wondrous to behold.
Built for legends
From a barn-found, unrestored 1966 DB6 Vantage, which incidentally went for a whopping £170,000, to the abstract vision of the 1986 Series 3 ‘Shooting Brake,’ a Volvo-esque looking behemoth, there are so many different cars that you don’t, even for a second, get bored. But the crème de la crème of the entire auction is the 1953 DB3S sports-racing two-seater.
Built-for and owned by Sir David Brown himself, and later owned and raced by legends of the industry Sir Stirling Moss, Roy Salvadori and Graham Hill, to name but a few. The DB3S is not only a complete one-off, but has a provenance so strong that there is likely to never be a more valuable Aston Martin in the world. And if you’re wondering, it sold for a stupendous £5 million.
Behind the wheel
To have driven to this historic auction in an Aston Martin sent shivers down my spine. I was in, I felt part of the club, and boy did it feel good. So as the rain started to fall, I clambered into the Aston Martin DB9 GT with my brother, who was still gazing enviously, and rocketed back into the asphalt wilderness. As soon as I stopped and got out, the only thing I wanted to do was be back inside.
The charm of this car is just that, when you’re in it, nothing else matters, and when when you’re out of it, you’re dreaming about being in it again. So, as you can imagine, it was too easy to guzzle through four tanks of fuel as we drove around aimlessly through the wondrous British countryside. Countryside is synonymous with Aston Martin. From cities to beaches and forests to rolling hills, we drove a staggering 711 miles in three days. If I could do it again, everyday for the rest of my life, I would die a happy man.
Well done Aston Martin, well done. ML