QOTW #98 – Work horse into cherished car?!

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Welcome to Bamford rose and another question of the week. So, you’re after an early V8 Vantage or DB9 and you want to make sure that you’ve bought a cherished well-loved car instead of a car that’s been a bit of a workhorse. Both of these two V8 Vantage here are from 2007. One of them has 55,000 miles on the clock and has been used and I wouldn’t say abused, but it hasn’t exactly been cared for in the workshop. It is eventually going to end up on the market and it is going to turn into a complete money pit for someone unfortunately. One of them needs at least 15,000 pounds spent on it just to make it road worthy. The other has been a cherished car for its entire life once for nothing. Still got a little bit of newness to it when you drive it and it is an absolute joy to drive.

It will be a joy to own as well because it is probably going to give a lot less hassle in the workshop than the other one. So, let’s go and find out which car is which. 4.3 V8 Vantage prices are starting in the low 20s now. And before the entry point to 4.7, going for about 35, 36 at the upper end. One of these cars deserves to be at that upper end because it’ll be very difficult to buy a better 4.3 V8 Vantage than one of these cars. When one of these cars doesn’t even justify it to get in the category of low 20s. But if it had a bit of a detail polished up and a nice interior valet, it could be well put on the market for a higher price. And then unfortunately someone unsuspecting will no doubt purchase it. So, let’s jump in both of these cars.

So, we’re in the blue one. This one has got 22,000 miles on the clock and is actually older than the silver car by about 600 vin. And as soon as you step inside this car, it’s obvious to me I’ve got so much experience getting in and out of different cars. That this car has got all of its original newness. Seat bolsters are still strong, not worn. The seat feels really comfortable instead of going a bit flat. Steering wheel almost feels like new leather hasn’t gone shiny. Just generally this car is more or less the same level of newness as when it first came out the factory. This car was booked in for a major service even though it didn’t need it, but the owner who fastidiously cares for it wanted the peace of mind of a major service. Every fluid, every filter, every consumable.

From the inspection report this car’s list of things on the repair list was pretty minor. A headlamp washer jet was broken which is extremely common. More or less every car is going to suffer broken headlamp washer jets at some point. A couple of exhaust heat shields had cracked from age deterioration thermal heat cycling that sort of thing. And one of the air boxes the plastic mount had snapped. Meaning that the air box wasn’t properly mounted again this is a really common issue. The plastic goes a bit brittle and it’s common to see air boxes that aren’t properly mounted.

We don’t buy a new air box for that, we re-bond the bracket which is snapped off and that gives the airbox a bit of extra life. New air boxes are hideously expensive and it seems unnecessary to buy a new air box just because one of the mounts is broken. Brake’s good, clutch good, suspension good, suspension wishbone ambush is good. All consumables are good, so this car really does one for nothing. The cut-off point from four three to four seven seems in the current market to be about 36 maybe up to 37, 37 a half something like that. And this car should definitely be at the upper end of that price bracket.

So, cars like this one if you can get your hands on one, because often when they’re this cherished the owners don’t want to let go of them. They are the cars to get hold of worth saving that extra bit of money for. Because what you will spend extra on the purchase price, you will save over and over and over again on workshop bills. More often high mileage does mean that the potential for a workshop spend is greater, but not in all cases. Let’s just go over to a car that was recently advertised on our sales portal. This is up at 70,000 miles, but it really does present itself as a much newer car. And I’d say getting in that car compared to this car there isn’t much difference in the newness inside the cabin. Both cars still feel really really new even though that one is up at 70,000 miles. Just shows that a well-looked after car no matter the mileage is the one to go for.

Now if a car has been used and some miles are plowed on to it and it’s been looked after in the workshop, that isn’t a problem. You know these cars are cracking, they shouldn’t be garage queens. They’re there to be used and enjoyed, just not used and abused. If a car like this one is cherished and it’s going at the upper end of the price bracket, that’s fine. And if a car has been used and well maintained, but because of age mileage paint condition maybe is going at the lower end of the bracket, then that’s fine also. What I’m finding this year and this has been creeping in over the last couple of years is that we see cars that have been used and more or less abused.

You know they’ve been told at service of a few consumables that need replacing. Maybe some more major wear items like clutch and brakes. But because selling the car is sort of on the radar of the current owner, then they really don’t want to maintain it and then the new buyer gets the benefit of that and the car sell at whatever market value. It was going to sell out regardless of what maintenance had been done. So, we will jump into the seat of that silver car and go through the list of works that that car needs. But if that silver car had a paint detail, had an interior detail and then was posted for sale, you’ll probably find the car going up for something like 25. Because it can be made to look shiny and attractive on the outside.

So, if all the budget can stretch to is buying at the lower end of the bracket, then that’s perfectly fine. Just need to get a nicely used and nicely cared for car. Because if someone’s run the car into the ground a bit, it’s been a bit of a workhorse. Maybe it’s been a little bit of a daily driver hack around, then that car is set on a trajectory of always being a sort of a hacker car. And if this is your first Aston purchase and you’re looking for something to cherish in the garage polish as much as you drive it, then if the car started off as a bit of a hack. And a workhorse it’s very very difficult to change the trajectory of that car. And you’re probably going to be a bit disappointed shortly into ownership when you realize for the first time it goes into a garage, that it needs quite a repair bill.

The V8 Vantage at the upper end of the price bracket 35, 37 and a half for a 4.3, it’s totally fine they’re well worth it. Especially like this car if they want for nothing and a good honest V8 Vantage at the lower end of the price bracket is also absolutely fine. You know you get what you pay for. Perhaps this paint is a little bit stone chipped at the front end, perhaps the interior is a little bit worn, perhaps the mileage is 50,60 or 70,000 miles, perhaps it soon needs tires and some breaks and if that was at the lower end of the price bracket. Which seems to be low 20s mid 20s at this moment in time. Then that is fundamentally okay. You know it’s a good car that just needs a little bit of TLC. But it’s basically harboring no problems; there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it.

The problem car is the silver car that we’re just about to jump into now. That will be polished up and that will be on the market for 25K. But considering that car needs at least 15,000 pounds spent on it to get it roadworthy. It means in reality, that the value of the silver car is worth about 10K if it needs 15K spending on it. That brings it up to being roadworthy and 25K is the sort of starting price for an okay car. Then with 15K spent on it that car is going to be sort of okay. And what we’re going to end up concluding is that buying at the bottom end of the market is okay. You know you get what you pay for but the car is fundamentally sound. What we want to avoid is those cars masquerading as an entry point car, when in fact it’s a complete basket case. And as I said before, unfortunately I’m seeing this all too often these days.

Welcome to the silver one. This car is new to us, we’ve never seen it before. But this pattern of events happens so often now we always conduct business in this way. So, when a car like this comes to us for service for the first time and even before it goes on the ramp, you can sniff out but it’s in need of some care let’s say. Then I never ever do the service, just do the inspection. Which is the same, you know the service inspection is the same really as a pre-purchase inspection it’s going to identify everything, they’re both one in the same inspection. Because then when what we anticipate is going to be a big long list of corrective things that a car needs is put to the owner.

You just know that the owner isn’t going to spend any money on the car while they haven’t in the past so why would they start spending money on it now. And I stop at doing the service and only conduct the inspection before awaiting feedback. Because I will not service this car and it will not have a Bamford Rose stamp in the service book. Because if we’ve done the inspection, we then changed the oil and brake fluid. You know the big long list of misdemeanors that this car had would conveniently go missing and the car would be advertised with just having a Bamford Rose service. So, that won’t happen.

Looking at the service book this car has had complete generic service stamps in it. I think it’s the first time it’s come anywhere that’s a dedicated Aston service specialist. And I think the owner has had a bit of a shock about how distressed this car is. So, we’ve done the inspection but we will not service it and I can bet that within a few weeks this car is going to be on the used market somewhere. And it’s going to be nice and shiny looking pretty going for about 25,000 pounds. So, problem cars. How do you check that you’re not buying a complete basket case? And you’re buying a car that is at the bottom end of the market and it’s perfectly okay to buy that, just needs a few bits of TLC on it.

Well as soon as you sit inside the car, you know it’s lost the level of newness. There is no new feeling to this car, the feet’s feel a bit soft and soggy. Steering wheel is worn when you touch the door handles and all that sort of stuff. Everywhere that someone with breast arms, it’s all pretty well used. Next telltale sign for me that this car has had a troubled past is that the read button on the dashboard is worn out. So, when the car pops up a fault code that displays whatever text message was going to appear on the right-hand side of the dash panel. Where the digital speedo is normally read from. But if you press the read button a couple of times, you can clear the codes and get yourself back to the digital speedo.

So, if you jump in the car seat of a car and you see that the read button the fascia of the button is actually worn away, then you know that they’ve hammered on the read button a fair few time. Typical of unloved early cars is that their door modules will be problematic. So, when you open up the door handle the window won’t drop. And if you locked it then you can probably hear it lock, but what you might not distinguish is that double bounce where it’s failed to lock and it unlocks itself. Clever people will reset the window a bit lower, so that it doesn’t need to drop to clear the outer chrome rail. Just like this car is doing.

There’s no window drop, but the door opens and closes okay. So, before you start there’s a pair of door modules aside from that on this car it’s going to need a couple of window motors also because they don’t sound too healthy. Two window regulator motors and two door modules. Labor to fit all of that and for something that you’re not really going to notice on the car, you’re already up to about 1,500 pounds. Okay, what else is this car harboring? It needs a complete set of brake discs pads handbrake pads. No doubt it’s going to need caliper pins, mounting bolts, easily a complete set of brakes fitting 1,500 pounds. Needs a clutch pretty much immediately, we’re already up to 6 grand.

Led’s in both rear lamps in operative needs a pair of lamps we’re up to 7. All four two front to rear lower suspension wishbone arm bushes are completely shot. So, it needs four wishbone arms. Fitting and geo we’re about knocking on the door and nine. Needs four dampers, dampers have gone totally soft. Handling this car is squidgy and slow. Fit into those and we’re up to about 12. Engine coolant radiator on this car suffers what the most of the early cars do inevitably, eventually which is corrosion ballooning where the bottom couple of rows of the matrix just balloon. Then they start to arc over and that’s where the radiator is going to risk cracking. Probably takes a couple of years to develop from initial ballooning into that fractured radiator. This one is at the point of fracturing. Immediately, I wouldn’t take it down the road if it were my car. Radiator plus fitting, I think we’re knocking on the door of 13.

Rear subframe corrosion on this one is excessive. Now we talk about all cars suffering from surface corrosion and it’s a fairly thick gauge metal. So, when a car has surface corrosion, it’s going to be perfectly happy at that for a good few year. It’s going to take a very long time to develop to the point where you take your car for an inspection and someone says, ‘Hey, you know close to critical suspension components where they’re mounted.’ You know it’s quite badly corroded and really this needs a restoration. But unfortunately, this car is at the point of needing subframe restoration. It’s really really bad, so I think that takes us to about 14.5.

It needs an engine auxiliary drive belt and pulley kit, and a complete set of wheel nuts they’re old corroded ballooned a bit difficult to get a socket over. Door gas struts, bonnet gas struts, tailgate gas struts, handbrake doesn’t feel too clever. It never bites at the same number of clicks; notches ratchet each time, probably going to need a handbrake cable. Possibly going to need either a rear caliper rebuild or pair new rear calipers. So, with those few consumables and the tires, I think we’re up to about 16. It’s a wheel refurbishment being curved quite badly and the paint is quite badly stone rashed on the front could do with a quick bumper blowing at the very least.

So, we’re talking about 16 or 17 grams worth of repairs on this car. Which means if I was offered this car for sale, I would quite politely turn it down even at 10. So, separate from cars which rightfully trade at the bottom end of the market, cars like this go in the category of a project. Bit of a basket case and realistically correctly for both parties the price should reflect that. There are a number of ways but essentially for me there are two ways that you can avoid buying a car like this. Number one is a pre-purchase inspection; number two would be to save your pennies a little bit longer and buy the best example from the upper end of the market instead of looking at cars at the lower end of the market.

Cars like this are absolutely fantastic for DIY. Someone that’s going to buy it and then over a period of time actually enjoy evolving, repairing it and bringing it back up to spec and that’s absolutely fine. But a car like this does need to trade at the right price to start with. Which would be somewhere between 10 and 15, I guess. You know 10 is obviously too low. There will be someone that thinks it’s a good deal that will buy it for that low figure. So, you know a car like this if it was bought for 15 and then evolved that would be absolutely fine. What we need to avoid are those people that think they’re buying a cherished loved car, because it’s really well presented and polished when in actual fact is harboring quite some issues.

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