Cars with breath­tak­ing glam­our are hard to re­sist, ex­cept when their sta­tus gets in the way of en­joy­ing them

Classic Cars (UK) - - Welcome - Phil Bell, edi­tor

The 534,422 vis­i­tors to 1958’s In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Ex­hi­bi­tion at Earls Court were treated to first view­ings of the Austin A40 and Rover 3 Litre among more than a dozen new launches, but the As­ton Martin DB4 was by far the most ex­cit­ing. With dis­creetly dash­ing styling by Fred­erico For­menti of Car­rozze­ria Tour­ing and a pow­er­ful new Tadek Marek-de­signed twin-cam straight six, this car en­cap­su­lated late­fifties Bri­tain’s as­pi­ra­tions of in­ter­na­tional glam­our and so­phis­ti­ca­tion per­fectly via the medium of alu­minium and steel. For £3980 those vis­i­tors could have bought six A40s or one DB4, a car that would – with min­i­mal changes – evolve into the Bond-fa­mous DB5.

To mark the event we’ve put to­gether a spe­cial pack­age of fea­tures, with the brave restora­tion of a DB4 pro­to­type dragged from a Welsh cat­tle shed, a road trip ex­plor­ing the real life of As­ton saviour David Brown and a re­veal­ing in­ter­view with his grand­son about those heady days.

Back when I was wrestling with the joys of stu­dent banger mo­tor­ing, com­edy ac­tor Rowan Atkin­son was part of the mo­tor­ing aris­toc­racy, us­ing his suc­cess to en­joy a string of As­ton Martins and other machin­ery that we mere mor­tals could only dream about. But when I spoke to him about his Mercedes-benz 500E and Lan­cia Thema 8.32, which we twin test in this is­sue, he ex­plained how he’d tired of high-pro­file cars and all of the at­ten­tion and high val­ues that swirl around them. In­stead he en­thused about the joy of re­vis­it­ing mod­els from his past, cars that of­fer a thor­oughly en­gag­ing driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with­out the cor­rup­tion of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, look-at-me sta­tus or in­flated prices.

They typ­ify the sort of great-value cars that I’ll be ask­ing Quentin Will­son about when we take to the stage through­out The Lon­don Clas­sic Car Show in Fe­bru­ary to talk Smart Buys.

See you there.

Our As­ton DB4 an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion has Phil pon­der­ing a (fan­tasy) E-type part-ex­change

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