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Aston Martin DB7, Restoration Detail - September/October 2013

We were contacted by a client for some advice on their Aston Martin DB7 which was in need of attention. Having considered selling the vehicle and swapping to Porsche, a trip to a dealership specialising in prestige vehicles persuaded him to keep the Aston, at least for a few more years, as this particular edition was appreciating rapidly and with a bit of care could be a worthwhile investment.

 

The marque is an Alfred Dunhill edition, of which only around 73 were ever actually produced. With features such as an optional cigar humidor, black leather interior (the only DB7 produced without cream leather), 18” bespoke alloy wheels with paint matched centre caps, and aluminium dash trim finished in a platinum silver.

 

The vehicle had been out of use for some time however, and was starting to show signs of disuse. A previous repair after a collision had been poorly completed, resulting in paint blistering on the composite front wings, and paint overspray on many of the panels. As a result of the owner working away for much of the week, neglect had left the roof sun bleached and covered in algae, the interior had water logged carpets from a leak in the roof, the leather had scuffing through the colour, various trim were in need of replacement… the list grew. After drawing up a draft list of work, we arranged transportation from the customer’s address (vehicle untaxed) and to our workshop to commence what was to be one of the longest projects undertaken so far.

The first order of business was to simply clean the vehicle, and see what was truly on the surface. We began with a thorough exterior valet and roof clean, which soon turned into three roof cleans and wet extraction, to remove the accumulation of algae in the fabric. A full clay bar cleanse of the paint took off overspray and surface contaminants, smoothed out the finish and gave us a blank canvas. Once clean, we brought the car inside, placed it on axle stands, and removed the wheels for renovation.

While the wheels were off and the car was static, we began wet extraction on the interior carpet to remove the damp. However it soon became apparent that extraction alone would not remove all the water soaked into the carpet’s sponge-like sound proofing, so the seats were removed and the carpet lifted. Through a combination of the initial extraction, several towels to soak excess surface moisture from the sound proofing and a week with an industrial dehumidifier in the tightly sealed car, we removed just over 11 litres of water from the interior carpets of the vehicle...

Although time consuming, this did give us plenty of opportunity to replace the various pieces of trim which could not be saved, thoroughly clean within the wheel arches and suspension components, and strip down pieces which needed special attention to clean. Off came the front fog lights, the rear quarter trim, the DB badge and the cracked passenger side mirror. The fog lights were cleaned of the algae which had worked its way under the lenses, first with a brush, then using compressed air. The rear quarter trim was reattached, and a new weather seal installed once a replacement chrome “DB” badge was in.

The passenger door trim was removed to rectify a faulty door catch which was causing a problem with the handle. Window trims which had been bleached off by the sun were sanded back and a new coat of enamel gloss black paint brought them back up to standard. The Alfred Dunhill numbered  edition plaque was removed to enable us to polish it, remove some surface corrosion and install new tiny stainless steel bolts to replace the rusted ones in place.

We took the opportunity to clean the seats whilst out of the car, touching in some faded scuffs with a coloured balm for a temporary aesthetic remedy, to hold until a leather repair could be completed. Conditioning the remaining surfaces gave the leather its matt sheen and deep leather scent

Once the interior was completely dry (less than 20% air humidity) we replaced the carpet, reinstalled the cleaned and treated seats, and addressed the roof.

The black fabric roof had a combination of algae and colour fade damage. When we received the car we had removed the algae and mould staining with three rounds of cleaning and extraction, however without further treatment this could potentially return. So beginning with a coat of black fabric roof dye to even out the roof colour, which had begun to suffer in constant sun light, we restored the shade back to a rich, dark black. Once dry we followed up with two coats of a fabric roof weather sealant containing UV inhibitors and algae and mould restrictive agents to ensure the roof stays free of mould and the fabric actively repels water in the future.

 

Due to the damp interior, the roof lining had become extremely mouldy, so once cleaned, we used a natural anti-bacterial spray solution to kill any bacteria and mould in the fabric down to the “roots” (so it wouldn't simply grow back). As the water had been sitting there for a while there was a very good chance that bacteria had grown in places we wouldn't be able to reach with a sanitising spray, i.e. the air conditioning system and various nooks in footwells. To remedy this, and to freshen up the musty scent left behind by the water, we filled  the cabin and air conditioning system with an odour and bacteria destroying fog, which leaves only a pleasant, though not overpowering, new vehicle scent behind whilst killing most known viruses and bacteria.

 

Whilst the centre caps were in good condition, the Aston martin badges were not.  We sourced a replacement set of domed badges and fitted these before refitting the freshly painted alloy wheels.

With the car back on its “feet” we took her for an under-carriage waxoil to protect the chassis from corrosion and had her serviced, with some minor mechanical issues addressed, fitted a new battery and replaced a loose rear view mirror.

Once back with us, the paint was machine polished back to a high gloss, removing one or two light surface scratches but leaving out the blistering panels for the paintshop to rectify. All badges were replaced and the vehicle inspected under natural light before being finished with two coats of Dodo Juice Light Fantastic wax.