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A 40-year-old luxury car left in the woods to rust sells for $374,000 at auction

Ian Harvey

On January 18, 2017, an Aston Martin DB4 was sold for $374,000 at the Worldwide Auctioneers sale in Scottsdale, Arizona. As the Scottsdale auction is well known for the sale of rare and beautiful motor vehicles, this should not have raised too many eyebrows, except when you consider the history of this particular auto.

Aston Martin is a luxury car brand introduced in 1913 in England; its headquarters was built on an RAF bomber base at Gaydon in Warwickshire. Since its inception, this brand has been associated with iconic sports cars and luxury touring vehicles. The model released after the one in this story, the DB5, was driven by James Bond in the film Goldfinger, and the marque became closely associated with the Bond franchise for many years. Since 1982 the brand has held a Royal Warrant for the supply of vehicles to the Prince of Wales and others in the British Royal Family.  The Aston Martin has a proud racing history and successfully competes around the world.

Aston Martin DB4 (Series 2) 1960 Author:Michael Schäfer CC BY-SA 3.0

Aston Martin DB4 (Series 2) 1960 Author:Michael Schäfer CC BY-SA 3.0

In the luxury vehicle market, it falls into the same bracket as the Bugatti, Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini.  The DB4 was unveiled in 1958, and it was the first production vehicle capable of doing 0 to 100 mph in under 30 seconds.  These vehicles not only enjoyed engines and running gear developed by the most sophisticated of engineering departments but also interiors that would have been the height of luxury, with leather and wood abounding.  This car would have oozed luxury, both inside and out.

However, the DB4 sold this year would not have achieved 100 mph in a month of Sundays, let alone 30 seconds, because this dilapidated wreck has not moved for the past 45 years. It was lovingly built at the Aston factory in England in 1960 and shipped to its new owner in America, where it was registered for the road in 1961. Then, for some reason, in the early 1970s the car was parked outside the owner’s home in the woods of Massachusetts and never moved again.

For almost 50 years this luxurious and extremely expensive vehicle sat in the rain and the sun and the snow; gradually, the leaves from the trees surrounding it drifted down to bury it up to its sill.  The interior leather dried and cracked, and the door panels and dash slowly disintegrated.  The weather and rust took its toll, and the car deteriorated more as each year went past.

Aston Martin DB4 Vantage Author:André Karwath aka Aka CC BY-SA 2.5

Aston Martin DB4 Vantage Author:André Karwath aka Aka CC BY-SA 2.5

In recent years, so-called “barn finds,” or classic cars that are found dirty and dusty in remote barns, are brought to auction and sold with their dusty patina intact.  Never before has one come to auction with a “woodland patina” such as that covering this DB4. It led the auctioneers to list the vehicle as “one of the most fascinating examples of these renowned GT cars to come to the market in recent years.”

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Even in the appalling state the vehicle is in, it sold for more than 100 times the original purchase price. But before it ever feels the road beneath its wheels, it will have to undergo a complete restoration. In a restored condition, this car should be worth around $700,000, so it would be worth it for the new owner to bring this vehicle back to her original glory.