A drive down memory lane

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It was on 14 February 50 years ago that he started a relationship which has endured to this day.

However, the golden anniversary earlier this month was not celebrated with cards or flowers because his significant other is a car.

To be precise, it is a remarkably original Aston Martin DB2/4 Mk III Special Series two-door saloon.

In Cardinal grey and with a beautiful red leather interior, it is a three-litre, six-cylinder beast with three inch-and-three-quarter carburettors.

The DB2/4 is one of only 29 made and is referred to by those in the know as a Feltham Aston, on account of it being handcrafted in the Middlesex town.

There are now only 12 of the 29 still registered with the Aston Martin Owners’ Club, although Peter (73), who lives in St Clement, explains that there could still be several more in existence that do not appear on the register. According to the club, no other Aston has been in the same hands from new for half a century.

Peter was 23 when he took delivery of the car, but it was not his first Aston. He first got to taste the blue-blooded thrill of driving one when just 21. He was a director of Bashfords Ltd, the St Saviour-based tomato growers. From the first time he had seen an Aston Martin being driven around Jersey he fell in love with the brand and managed to buy one secondhand in 1956. It was a 2.6-litre DB2/4, which he owned for 18 months before buying his current Special Series.

‘When I saw the Special Series, I thought it was quite some car,’ he said. ‘I made a special visit to Aston Martin at Feltham, where they purposely built it for me. I had to wait three months at that time for delivery.’ He took delivery of it on 14 February 1959. At that time Aston Martins were highly desirable and there were very few in circulation.

Peter said: ‘I purchased the car from St Helier Garages, who were the Aston Martin dealers at that time, and the cost was £2,221, which was a lot of money in those days.

‘It was sold to me by Mac Daghorn, who was the salesman. A special concession was made as the garages, the tax office and the insurance office were open on Saturdays, so he was able to collect the car in the afternoon. As I drove it from the garage past the market and up past Boots the Chemist the throttle stuck wide open, which caused quite a bit of panic at the time.’

On the first night he had the car, he took it down to see his great pal, Tico Martini, who was building his first racing car in his garage in Le Breton Lane.

Tico went to live in France and went on to build over 1,000 Martini cars of all classes. Peter gave his old friend Tico a call to mark the car’s golden anniversary and they reminisced about that very first night.

As a young man, Peter used to sand-race and compete in hill climbs in a Cooper 500 alongside Tico and Sandro Testori, whose son John owns Bambola toyshop.

Peter was used to handling a performance car, which was just as well as the Aston Martin is very heavy and takes some handling.

Peter said: ‘It was a very fast car for its day, going from 0–100 in 26 seconds and reaching a top speed of 127 mph. It was a long time before other models equalled this performance. It is all original. All the chrome, paint, leather is original. All the parts that have been replaced are original parts.’

If the car needs any attention, Peter takes it to Paul Keens, in James Street. He has done around 70,000 miles in his Aston Martin, including trips to Norway, Sweden, France and Italy.Peter says that he only drives it in dry conditions these days as the roads are quite busy and it has a very heavy clutch and steering. However, he adds that it still has a lovely, throaty sound and turns quite a few heads.

The car is not too happy sticking to Island speed limits either. ‘You really have to concentrate fully on the road with any old car because they don’t brake or steer like modern cars,’ he explained. ‘When you drive the Aston Martin, you realise how bad the driving is in Jersey, with people on the wrong side of the road. Tractors just don’t stop. I don’t like them on the country roads. They just plough on.’

On the car’s 50th birthday, Peter and his son Alex gave an extra polish to the wheels and body before taking it out for a 40-mile run around the Island. When he bought the Aston, Peter didn’t think that this was going to be a car that he would be keeping for half a century, but it became very special to him.

At the moment, it is not for sale but if it was, how much would it be it worth now? ‘It is worth what someone is willing to pay,’ suggests Peter.

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