It’s no surprise to anyone that I’m quite a fan of Volvo’s on this blog, I of course own my wonderful C70 Coupé project car, my parents have owned a MK1 S80 in the past and over the last year I’ve been very much a part of the Volvo scene more than I ever was before by going to multiple launch events, however, when it comes to cars, Volvo doesn’t even come close to my all time favourite car brand – I’m of course talking about Aston Martin!!
That’s right, shocker right?, well let me explain, Ever since I was young I was bought up around cars so whatever it was I had or watched or even played it involved cars in one way or another, now I’ll admit, when I was really young I never really knew much about Astons or any high end manufacture for that matter as I was just way too young to even take notice, add that in with the fact that Astons aren’t entirely seen every day of the week it just never registered with me at such a young age, however that all changed with one movie & ever since then I was hooked and have been ever since.
Picture the scene – it’s the year 2002, Brazil have won the FIFA world cup, Michael Schumacher was on his way to winning the F1 Season with Ferrari & EA are working on the legendary game that is NFS Underground – all while this is happening, a new film is getting filmed, it stars both Pierce Brosnan & Halle Berry and for the most part, it is filmed in Iceland, I am of course talking about Die Another Day, now what got me interested in this film really was the ice chase scene between the then new Aston Martin Vanquish and the equally gorgeous Jaguar XKR Convertible, now as a 6 year old at the time, I was instantly hooked, Imagine seeing two cars fight it out on a frozen lake while shooting a plethora of weapons at each other, as a six year old I was in heaven, ever since then I’ve had both a very keen interest in James Bond Films & the cars which have been in their before and on top of that – that was where my love of Aston Martin originally came from.
Skip a few years later to when the DB9 came out and again, just like the beautiful Vanquish before it, this had me hooked, it was able to beat the then new 200mph cross continental train to Monaco with ease on Top Gear, it spawned the DBR9 race car & of course bought along the DBS & Virage later in life, in fact, the DB9 had me so hooked it instantly became my dream car and has done ever since, I’ve been lucky enough to both be a passenger ride in one at 13 & also drive one when I was 14 and it’s been my mission ever since to eventually get a DB9 one of these days no matter what thats how much I love it.
Recently I’ve gotten into the classic Astons like the DB4, DB5, V8 Vantage & even the classic race cars like the DBR1, in fact a few years ago, I was lucky enough to get to see a 1954 DB2/4 Saloon up at Peter Vardy Heritage in Glasgow and it was everything I’d ever asked for & is a day I’ll never forget.
Now by reading all this, you’ll think that I’m a massive Aston fan and while for the most part that is correct, there has been one car from Aston that I’ve never really bonded with and that is the DB7, now sure it is a beautiful car, there is no doubting that, however compared to the Vantage which preceded it and the DB9 which replaced it, it never really had that wow appeal that Aston’s are so used to giving off, on top of all that, it was based on the old Jaguar XJS which in itself was nearly a 30 year old car, worst of all however, especially by Aston standards was the 3.2 I6 which was used in the early cars, with the Vantage having a V8 and the DB9 having the truly wonderful 6.0 V12, the early I6 just wasn’t very Aston, now sure it was supercharged so it was as powerful as any other AM at the time but the soundtrack was just not the same plus with Ford switchgear it certainly was as well built as other Astons previous.
In 1999 the V12 Vantage came out and this completely changed the DB7, it now had both the power and noise of an Aston, however at that point it was still quite an old car on an even older platform and it was starting to show it’s age quite considerably, however, Aston still plodded on and kept it going till 2003 with the absolutely savage DB7 GT and the equally gorgeous DB7 Zagato being two limited run versions of the DB, now these were essentially the two swan songs of the DB7 range before the truly fantastic DB9 came out, however these two weren’t the only limited edition DB7’s to be commissioned oh no no no, in fact, there is one DB7 which recently has gone under the radar for quite some time as it’s so rare that if anything no one knows it actually exists.
I am of course talking about the Keswick Edition – what is the Keswick Edition you may ask? well, it was a limited edition run of ten DB7’s, 5 of which were Vantages & the other 5 were Volante’s, they all had the 5.9 V12 fitted which gave them 420 bhp & 540nm torque and either came with the six speed manual or the 5 speed auto gearbox, top speed was 186mph for the manual cars or 165mph for the auto cars, now while the engine was exactly the same as the normal Vantage or Volante, which made this so special was the following specification.
For a start, they were all coloured Ferrari Nero Daytona Black, the Volantes had a black mohair roof, they had upper & lower mesh grilles, interior wise, you had charcoal hide on the top & bottom of the dash with DB7 insignias embossed into the seats, following on with the black theme was the charcoal carpets with the DB7 logo’s also embossed into them as well, the headlining was also black, the wood veneer was replaced with metallic finishes, on the instrument cluster, you had white dials with chrome rings which really lifted the interior somewhat, on the outside you had a wonderful set of 9 spoke 19″ wheels with black brake calipers hiding behind them, all Keswicks had a numbered IWC watch included as well to really show you had something special.
Now, like a lot of rare cars, it’s very rare you’ll find a Keswick for sale, with only ten being produced it’s never going to be common which makes this one a real diamond in the rough so to speak, however, what is very weird is the price, now while £30,000 generally isn’t cheap, compared to other limited edition cars it’s unbelievable value for money, especially considering it’s only done 40,000 miles which is nothing considering the age, even for a high end car, also, this one is in fantastic condition that you wouldn’t really want to drive it it’s so clean, now sure, you can buy a normal V12 Vantage for that money or even a DB9 for that price but even for any of them, it’ll be either a wreck which will need a bit of work to get right or a good car with a middle ground specification, with this Keswick, you get a relatively low mileage, 2 owner car with a very high spec and the bonus of having something like nothing else on the road which is only a good thing really – this really is a car to buy now to keep as an upcoming modern classic.
With the 6.0 V12 most definitely dead and other multiple V12 engined Aston’s going for quite a bit of money, now is the time to buy a DB7 V12 to look after & enjoy & for £30,000 this Keswick should be on anybody’s DB7 shopping list, it was one of the first Aston production cars to have that wonderful V12 fitted and with the added bonus of rarity added in, these cars won’t be around for these prices anymore.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
So like a lot of car guys, I can’t help but search the classifieds to look for potential next cars, project cars or even unobtainable dream cars, now for me, my main car buying/selling site I use is AutoTrader as over here in the UK they are the most popular and have anything & everything for sale whether it’s a normal everyday cheap hatchback to a £1M+ Ferrari Daytona, now on a lot of occasions, I tend to look at affordable cars with the odd occasion looking at the wacky, weird & downright different cars and today I think I’ve found one in the shape of this Aston Martin DB5 kit car based on a 1999 Honda S2000 here.
Now being a kit car, it’s never going to look like an actual DB5 as it of course has to fit over an already existing chassis – In this case a AP1 S2000 so width, length and overall track is gonna be slightly different to the real thing, however, as kit cars go, this has to be the most accurate one I’ve seen for sale, compared to the F355 kit cars based on SW20 MR2’s it actually looks realistic, however there is of course some big & small differences.
For a start, the doors & windows are a different size to the real DB5 due to it’s Honda roots, the interior on this particular one still has the original S2000 interior which kind of looks out of place compared to the outside but everything does work which is typical of any Honda product, now I don’t have any issues with an S2000 whatsoever and that even includes it interior, however it does look weird in something which looks like a DB5.
Secondly, the mirrors, wiper arms & wheels are slightly different to the real thing, now these can easily be changed or fixed one way or another and shouldn’t take too long or much to fix, however, there is one last thing which is massively different to this replica and that is what ultimately gives me my mixed feelings.
See, being based on the S2000, it still has it’s F20C fitted, now in engine terms, the F20C is a wonderful engine, 9000RPM rev limit, bulletproof reliability & some decent power from a 2.0 4 cylinder engine, in a car which looks like a DB5, it makes sense to have an engine like this as it’d give good reliable power with a really good power band which in turn with the sublime S2000 chassis would make this rep a really good car to drive on any road you take it down, so why does it give me mixed reactions then? well it’s pretty simple really.
See, even though this is based on a really fantastic Honda sports car and it’s been a reliable old thing over the last 6 years the kit was applied, for me, having an Aston whether a kit or not, it should have the feeling of an Aston & of course the sound of an Aston, so to still have it’s 4 cylinder fitted makes no sense in that respect, If it was mine, I’d personally fit the 3.2 Supercharged I6 & running gear from an early DB7, that way, every time you drive it, it’d sound and would somewhat feel like the car it’s supposed to look like.
Same story goes for the interior, now of course it’s still a lovely interior which is very driver focused and of course everything works which you could never say about the original, however in this car it looks so out of place it’s unreal, to make it more realistic, it’d need replacing with a custom interior and custom retro bucket seats which would bring it more in line with a real DB5, unfortunately however to do all that will of course cost quite a bit of money to put right which brings me onto it’s biggest issue and that is the price.
Now a normal S2000 starts at around £5000 for a good one all the way up to about £10K-£15K for a later Facelift, however this Replica is hitting nigh on £70K which isn’t cheap at all, in fact you could get a MK1 V12 Vanquish for a similar amount of money, you could easily get a DB9, V8 Vantage or even a V12 DB7 Vantage which are proper Aston’s and not kits, however, if you really really love the DB5 then in that retrospect it really is a bargain as a real DB5 can cost upwards of £500K which is way out of reach for a majority of us, add in the upgrades that I’d personally do to make it more realistic, you’d probably be spending about £100K all in which is a 5th of the price of a real one with better reliability than the DB5 and a better driving experience too having DB7 bits added into the mix, add in the custom interior and it’d be a kit car which in theory wouldn’t be too far off the real thing which can’t be said for a lot of kit cars going these days.
So what is everyone’s opinion on this kit car then?, a very good remake which just needs the finishing touches I mentioned or yet another fake wannabe Aston Martin which is too much money for what it actually is?, me personally, I quite like it as it’s a whole lot better than a lot of kit cars these days and the work which has gone into it is a whole lot higher quality than others I’ve seen, once finished it’d be a 5th the price of a real DB5 and the best part really is the feeling it’d give off, with the upgrades done, it’d feel reminiscent of driving the real thing which can only be a good thing.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
With modern cars these days getting all different gadgets & technologies – some of which are potentially life saving and others just purely to satisfy us drivers while travelling, it can sometimes become way too much for any ones personal needs to the point it can get quite distracting & also slightly annoying which begs the question, when is enough enough and what should really be important in a car and what should take a step back?
It’s no surprise that us petrol heads like our cars to drive as pure as possible with as little driving aids as possible, however, we still love our gadgets and can’t live without the likes of a premium stereo system and the likes of electric windows and of course the good old air conditioning for those really hot days.
I know for a fact I’m one of those people and I know I’m not alone in this situation, me personally, I can’t live without cupholders for a start and I certainly can’t live without the likes of electric windows, leather seats & a cracking stereo system.
For example, with the equipment on my C70, I love the parking sensors fitted to mine as it makes it so much more liveable to park what is still a fairly big car, I also adore the leather seats and find them quite frankly fantastic to the point it’d be weird to be without them, not just are they unbelievably comfortable but because they were designed by an orthopaedic doctor, I know that they are helping out my back which is a god send, especially when my back goes which it sometimes does.
However on the flip side of that, there’s a good few things on my car which I hardly even think about and these include the heated mirrors for a start off, now sure they help clearing the frost & ice & water off the glass quite quickly, however unlike the seats they’re not really that much of a god send and even go unnoticed even by myself.
Other things which get unnoticed by myself are the DRL’s, now sure just like the mirrors they also serve a purpose & every Volvo ever since and even before the C70 have had them fitted but they serve such little purpose apart from a safety point of view that they’re easily forgotten about and can easily get unnoticed however good & safe they might be.
Now, this is where it gets a tad confusing but work with me on this, while with my car there is things I can & can’t live without, with the likes of the Seat it can easily be considered bare bones in comparison, for example, it has one cup holder between 5 people which is just crazy, it doesn’t have electric mirrors or even electric windows in the rear which was something I’d expect from a car built & using parts from the VAG parts bin, however with such little equipment apart from the bare essentials it kind of works in that situation due to the fact there is less to go wrong if there is less fitted to it in the first place.
Even with the Seat though, even though it is quite archaic compared to both the Volvo & even the Lexus which I’ll get onto in a little bit, there is even things in that which is in some respects unliveable even by todays standards, one of which is the 6 CD changer in the glovebox, now sure it takes up a good 80% of the glovebox space which isn’t that good, however, it’s such a good add-on that it’d be weird to live without.
Now, this is where the real point of this article comes into play and this can easily be explained by the RX400h we have, now, Lexus have always been known to add in tons of equipment even in standard trim into all of their cars regardless of price or car class and to some it’s fantastic, however, while our Lexus has tons of equipment we can’t live without, even to us it’s overkill with the amount of stuff it has – for a start off it has adaptive auto lights which swivel when you turn the wheel & rain sensing wipers, it has sat-nav, cruise control, Dual zone climate control & an electric tailgate to name a few.
Now most of those stuff in that car we’ve never had before so it’s all new to us and does take getting used to I’ll admit however even with the Lexus more than anything else there is tons of stuff in that we’ll never even consider using or living with and with some even there just for owner satisfaction it comes across as overkill which certainly begs the question, why is it there if it’s hardly ever gonna get used?, it just makes no sense!
Now, the RX certainly isn’t the worst, with new cars coming nearly every few months, the equipment & gadgets coming out on them are indeed great but on the other hand can be way too much for anyone to live with, what happened to the days of actually speccing the likes of an optional sports exhaust instead of it being controlled by a switch, also, whatever happened to paying a little bit extra for the likes of a “Sports Chassis” instead of going through in some cases a miss-match of options & driving modes just to get the perfect driving set-up, before all this came in, if you wanted a proper drivers car you’d always have to wind up going for the performance model but today it seems that every car has the option to sharpen something up with the change of a setting through the cars entertainment system.
Also, while on the subject of settings & entertainment systems, how is it possible for the likes of older people who are used to older tech to set up the car they want, now don’t get me wrong, I’m quite tech savvy so that doesn’t affect me in any shape or form whatsoever but there a lot of people out their who just aren’t tech savvy or haven’t gotten with the times just yet which makes all this tech & gadgetry quite frankly null & void however fancy or clever it is.
Another issue to be raised is some owners relying on the cars systems & gadgets to guide it down the road, considering that a good amount of drivers these days have the potential to do that, it makes drivers lazy & also prone to massive accidents all down to lack of due care & attention which makes motoring even worse for us petrol-heads who cherish our cars and don’t want them dinged up in any way shape or form.
Now am I just being old, senile and being generally stubborn to move on or am I right in what I’m saying?, I’d like to hear what you guys have to say and while on the subject, why don’t you let me know what you wish your car had or didn’t have, I’d really like to see what everyones view is on this.
Hope You Enjoy
By Alex Jebson
In the world of car ownership, it’s always been said that the more expensive the car is, the better it is, now I’ll admit I’ve always went by this too and have always vouched to parents or family members never to buy anything under £500 as it’ll more than likely be wrecked and need a ton of work to get it back on the road, however, it seems that I’ll more than likely have to eat humble pie for breakfast, lunch & dinner after my stepdad bought a Seat Leon MK1 for the measly sum of £300 back in May – that’s right, he bought a fully working, full service history, relatively clean, lowish mileage car for less than my Canon 1300D Camera.
So what exactly is the deal with this Seat and why do we own one?, well, with my mum away working in her new job as a Live In Carer and needing a car to get her down to wherever she needs to be and my own car being a rolling project, my stepdad needed a cheap set of wheels to just get him mobile, now of course, with such a limited budget it would be highly unlikely that’d he’d get something flashy or prestige for that amount of money, for this he needed something reliable, cheap to run, easy to fix if it ever needed work and of course an easy array of parts at a relative cost, this is where the search begins.
my stepdad got a message from a friend of his through his Facebook saying that she’d found a guy in Glasgow selling a MK1 Seat Leon 1.4 on the Facebook Marketplace, after the usual questioning you ask when buying a car & a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, we finally decided on a price – £300 for the car itself & £20 delivery from his address and that was it, we had bought ourselves a Seat Leon MK1 1.4.
Now, I’ll freely admit, I’ve never really got the Vdub scene and especially the VAG scene with cars, I’ve been in a few VW’s before and while not too bad, they’ve never been a car I’d ever consider owning and when you add in Dieselgate a few years back and countless horror stories of their cars having big issues it put me off them and Seat was no different, after hearing all that stuff I’d honestly thought that I’d not gel with this car whatsoever and would soon begin to find issues with it and would soon begin to eventually hate it as it’d live up to the reputation these cars have gained upon themselves, however, a few weeks into ownership and I was actually pleasantly surprised.
I’ll admit, when the car came along that evening, it wasn’t anything fancy and it certainly needed work doing to it to get it up to roadworthy condition, this was expected for two reasons, one, the guy we bought it from had already told us what was wrong with it and for two, it only cost £300, it was never going to be a good running car for that amount of coin, even I’d be pleasantly surprised if it was like that, especially in this day & age.
Things all started to change the first time I shunted it around to help jump start my C70, it blew me away with how easy it was to drive & how well screwed together it all was, especially for a everyday, cheap, easily accessible 5 door hatchback, the build quality surpasses anything similarly priced or even any fit’s rivals, even the MK4 Golf it shares a majority of parts with.
Ever since fixing it & getting it roadworthy, it’s been perfect to own and hasn’t given us hardly any issues, we bought it on 98k miles and since ownership we’ve put about 3k miles into it which I’ll admit isn’t much but in those times we’ve done biggish trips and also small trips and not a single issue has raised it’s ugly little head – a big feat for a VAG car over 15 years old.
Drivability wise, it actually drives really well & has overall brilliant driving manners, the steering is great, the brakes are surprisingly good but to be quite frank the car doesn’t weigh much so it doesn’t need huge brakes to stop it, the engine & gearbox is strong albeit out of puff at higher speeds but that’s expected with a 1.4.
The best bit about it however is it’s fuel economy. It only costs £60 to fill with current fuel prices and that can last for a good few weeks, on paper, the little 1.4 can do 42mpg combined and after living with it for well over 6 months I can really start to believe it.
I honestly don’t know if it does actually hit the 42mpg like the stats state but it certainly isn’t far off, this means that for us or even anybody either on a budget or looking for a daily it will save quite a bit of money over a small period of time which can be spent on other things like new car parts for example.
The only real issue as I mentioned above is really the lack of shove at higher speeds, this isn’t a car built for high speed motorway driving, if you want something which can cope a little better i’d suggest either the 1.8T 20V or the well loved 1.9 Diesel as these will be so much better suited to the car.
Interior wise it isn’t actually badly equipped, ours has the optional 6CD Changer fitted in the glovebox as well as A/C, electric windows, Alloy wheels amongst other things and everything works, the heater is fantastic as is the stereo system, inside it is pretty sparse with equipment I’ll admit as it is the base model with a few extras added in however there is two good reasons why we don’t mind this – first off, it’s less to go wrong and for two, it can easily be replaced with OEM parts from higher specced Leon’s if we so wish, for now however it’s doing it’s job so we’re not too fussed about changing it up just yet.
So, you maybe asking what are the plans for this car for the future? – well for now we’re going to keep it the way it currently is as it’s working perfectly fine, it could be due a Service sometime soon and there is talks of changing out the interior for a full leather set from a higher specced car, already it’s had Audi A3 5 spoke wheels fitted as the originals were resprayed black and were done so terribly, the Audi wheels actually suit the car well so they’ll be staying unless we can find others which suit even better.
We’ll hopefully be keeping this little beauty for a few months to come as it keeps up clocking up the care free miles day after day, keep an eye out for updates on it in the future months as it hopefully changes from a £300 run about to something actually relatively decent, it’ll never be a show car that’s for certain but it’ll be a car anyone will be happy to own.
Hope You Enjoy!
From Alex Jebson