1967 ASTON MARTIN DB6 RESTORATION
It all started with the purchase of a 5 speed right-hand drive (RHD) DB6 Aston Martin, bought at the Barrett Jackson Auction. My client had wanted one for some years when he saw the car, which, on initial inspection, looked pretty good. I was concerned that he wouldn't enjoy it as a RHD but he assured me that was not an issue. We decided to bid on the car.
It was afternoon when the car finally arrived on the block. The auctioneer read the car's specs, which included a fresh engine done by one of Southern California's most respected Aston specialists. The engine sounded fine in person and didn't smoke, giving credence to this statement.
We bid on the car and, to my surprise, we won the auction. We had it sent home by enclosed carrier.
When it arrived about a week later, it wouldn't start. We pushed it into my client's garage, where I cleaned the plugs, checking for spark—all good, and we fired the car up. Much to our dismay, the engine made all kinds of knocking noises—not good. I could tell from the sounds the head would need to come off at the very least, and more likely, we would have to pull the motor.
Sure enough, at some point between the time we bought the car and it arrived, it had swallowed a 7/16" nut, trashing the #4 piston and the cylinder head. After removing the engine and gearbox, I proceeded to tear down the engine. Much of the inside looked pretty good but not as if it had just been rebuilt.
We sent the head out and I got on the phone with Aston parts specialist Steel Wings, a great bunch of guys, who were very helpful. The client decided after some discussion that if the motor was coming out anyway, we might as well make some upgrades to it. I ordered Vantage Cams and intake manifold along with Weber carbs and stainless steel headers.
While the head was being reworked, along with other bits, we agreed to freshen up the suspension with new shocks, ball joints, tie rod ends, bushings springs and shocks with heavier sway bars to go with the stiffer springs. We also decided to go through the brakes as well.
Once he got going, it didn't stop there. I farmed out the caliper rebuilds and boosters to White Post restoration, and made all new Conifer brake lines for the car. Pleased with all the other things we were doing, the client decided the engine bay was going to look pretty shabby with that fresh motor in it so we stripped the engine compartment, and cleaned and detailed all the bits prior to reinstalling them.
Then he thought it might also be nice to have the car converted to Left Hand Drive... What had started as a simple engine rebuild (if there is such a thing on an Aston Martin) was now turning into a major restoration and modification. I begin looking for a used LHD dashboard. After several long days on the phone calling all over the world, it became apparent we were not going to find a left hand dash.
The good news about Astons is the chassis is partially set up for the car to be right or left hand drive from the factory, with the frame drilled and built with mounting braces for the clutch and brake hydraulic cylinders. Moving the pedal box and rebuilding the floor area to accomplish this is not a small task, though, and took several days.
Flipping and rebuilding the steering rack was less difficult than we imagined. Then we had to rebuild and modify the steering column. Per our client's instructions, we removed the optional power steering and converted the rack.
Next it was time to revisit the dash issue. With no lefthand drive available, the only solution was to copy the dash in reverse. Over the next two weeks, I fabricated not only a new steel dash for the car but also new glove box and ash grab handle, like the original RHD version. The bad news was the wiring was not going to easily flip over so we had to come up with a LHD dash wiring loom. The good news was Aston Martin was only too happy to supply one at a surprisingly reasonable price.
With the steel work and trial fitting done on the dash, we painted the exposed part and make new upholstery for the top. Whew, what an ordeal! But the final pictures show that some things are worth the effort.
By now the engine and gearbox were back together, and the front and rear suspension re-done. Time to drop the engine back in.
We determined that all the aluminum trim around the inside of the doors was not up to the rest of the now freshly redone car so we purchased the dimpled sheet aluminum from Steel Wings and I fabricated all new door jambs and door trim. The car had come without the fan shroud and none was available so I made a new fan shroud out of steel to attach to our freshly re-cored radiator. Oh, did I mention that one of the upgrades was to convert the car to negative ground and install a new alternator as well?
One thing lead to another… Five new wheels and new three-eared knock offs were purchased as well as new stainless steel bumpers all around to finish off the car.
The final product was a LHD, silver Aston DB6 Vantage with 5 speed ZF gearbox that anyone would be proud to own.