November 2010, A damp sign inside the windscreen said “OFFERS INVITED”.
The car was damper inside than out despite the weather, and the stench of mildew was overpowering. Anything non-metallic was in an advanced state of decay, including the chassis.
This was a “FIELD-FIND"!
February 2011 a deal was done, and the Top Secret “Project Victor” (as in Victor Mildew, not Gauntlett) restoration program began. Our wedding set for July 16th, my fiancé had requested she be driven to church in a “Convertible White Aston Martin V8”. I think she meant a new Vantage, not our current DB9 coupe.
Suffice to say little could be salvaged of non-ferrous origin. Even the chassis was dissolving! Every trace of paint was removed, bodywork honed to perfection, and chassis rebuilt . Brightwork re-chromed, woodwork restored, and 10 hides of parchment leather (to match her wedding dress) used to re-upholster it. Originally Crusader White, it was meticulously re-sprayed in Dover White, with black hood and carpets.
On July 14th Victor was delivered gleaming, and smelling delicious! 2 days later my fiancé Grace (now wife) was being driven to church in what she thought was “something borrowed”. Later she spotted the silver Gucci initial “G” set into the gear-knob that gave the game away! She knew nothing about the project, a well-kept secret, but she did get her “White V8”.
Fast forward 10 years. Ongoing restoration has seen a gearbox upgrade, sports exhaust, carburettor rebuild, “top-end” overhaul, front and rear suspension totally rebuilt, and a new power steering rack. I have always been strict on preserving originality but parts are only replaced when worn or damaged beyond repair.
“Victor” has been seen at several Classic Car shows, AMOC concourse events, featured in Classic Car magazine, and also used by Hackett for their 2020 advertising campaign. Although no longer in “original condition” or offering a beautifully aged patina, he still looks like he just rolled off the production line.
BML 985T has had 4 previous owners, the previous one kept it in daily use for 21 years and has now covered over 124,000 miles.
Victor is still in regular use, and still "work in progress".
Cowdray Park photoshoot. Models (and clothes) courtesy of Hackett, whippet borrowed from the gardener.