Everything proper and correct has a price of entry. Everything has fine print. There are no deals. On top of that, the world is exactly upside down — bizarro. What is affordable anymore? What defines value within the car world? Is the auction result of $55k for a 2010 Aston Martin DBS (Lot 352, RM Sotheby’s Online Only: The European Sale) now the new cheap collectible du jour? Consider this my cautionary tale of “Don’t be lulled and lured into the suckers’ moment.” I marvel (sometimes in amazement but more often in confusion) at the shifting sands of popularity and value trends in this universe of our car addictions. But first let me share my view of the worldwide climate.

The daily crazy

The world around us is on a bad acid trip that makes Woodstock seem like just another day with kids running around Yasgur’s farm. I don’t know about you, but my routine has become filled with incredulity amid stupefying moments that somehow manage to keep playing an Olympian form of one-upmanship on the daily. 2020 may very well become the year where I come home after a long day and find my French bulldog Louis puffing a Montecristo, sipping a Chiltern Negroni and scrolling through his iPhone, marveling at the photos he shot of the squadron of pterodactyls that just enjoyed a fly-by over the house. “And how was your day, Steve?” If Louis does start talking, I do hope he sounds like Michael Caine circa 1965. Parts of the car world are as insane and wholly unpredictable, Gov’nuh. This is 2020, after all. Really, what’s so crazy about a talking dog anymore? This lethal combination of travel lockdown, homestead imprisonment and the cancellation of all events held holy and sacred related to our two- or four-wheel enjoyment has led to some unquantifiable behavior with regard to impulse auction buying. I had no idea there are so many itches that need scratching with a chainsaw to be satisfied. A smattering of things that have surprised me this month on Bring a Trailer include $250k spent on a 1988 BMW M3, $84,500 dropped on a 1985 Chevy K20 4x4 and $50k thrown at a 2000 Honda Civic Si. These are remarkable results for rather pedestrian cars — albeit all of the above are top-of-the-food-chain examples. Hand me the chainsaw — values are bouncing and bouncing hard.

Why a $55k DBS is a minefield — not a deal

So is the $55k Aston DBS a deal, then? Here’s what the auction write-up had to extol, verbatim: “Introduced at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as Aston Martin’s new flagship in 2007, the DBS retained similar looks to the DB9 yet was visibly more masculine and muscular in form, hinting at its increased power under the bonnet. A direct yet more gentlemanly competitor to Ferrari’s 599 GTB, the DBS pulled at enthusiasts’ heartstrings from the moment it was announced, and it was arguably one of the most desirable cars that money could buy when it was new. Featuring on the silver screen as James Bond’s car of choice in both ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Quantum of Solace,’ the DBS’s place was cemented in Aston Martin and movie history, becoming a must-have for any Aston Martin collector and a dream car for James Bond fans around the world.” Do you notice anything missing within the auction description? Nary a letter, consonant, observation on the actual condition of the car. The photos, however, tell the story. The crystal key is shattered, every panel is marred and it looks like oil riggers from the North Sea kept it on a platform with the doors open during the entire winter. There were 86 detailed photographs in the auction description. RM Sotheby’s was not hiding the utterly trashed disposition of this car at all. The buyer should have been well aware of what he/she was getting — should he or she have looked at the pics. I assume he/she bid on a BlackBerry without a viewing screen — just guessing. Or maybe he/she had a budget. Okay, fair comment. Budgets and very expensive cars get along like Donald and Nancy — not gonna work together. If the budget argument holds water, then a great DB7 Vantage or DB9 should have been considered. I wrote the profile of a beautiful DBS offered by RM at Amelia Island in the June 2020 edition of SCM (English Profile, p. 56). I wanted to own that car at $140k after I wrote about it!

Why a $140k DBS is an Affordable Classic

In stark and blunt comparison, the person who spent $50k for the Honda on BaT was better off than the new owner of the $55k DBS sold in the U.K., as at least the Honda is mint. This shows a wide disparity of where proper — and not-so-proper — true “value” lies in the DBS (or any exotic car) world. For $140k (should this now be deemed affordable), you will enjoy the correct Aston Martin DBS experience as the gentleman spy would have in 2009, à la Daniel Craig. Enjoy. For $55k, you can experience approximately 50% of the thrill in 75% less condition as the gentleman who went to a spy movie starring Rowan Atkinson. No bueno. Hear that ticking? It’s not the sound of your Molex. The price for a proper, low-mileage, coveted manual-transmission DBS that was well preserved versus the beat-like-a-rented-mule, high-mileage, automatic-transmission DBS that will no doubt have needs was clearly showcased here. There are no deals (except on Tom Brady Patriot jerseys). As a closing statement, let’s agree on this: The Aston Martin DBS could be considered an Affordable Classic on the basis that it is a halo car that gives fantastic performance and has killer looks (it’s sort of that Gina Carano package of strength, intelligence and beauty). Owning an Aston Martin DBS may very well have little monetary downside if you pick the right example: manual transmission, good color and 2+0 seating. I can endorse the expensive example and give fair warning to the cheaper car. It’s 2020, where $140k versus $55k is much, much more affordable. I think I hear my dog mixing a drink. ♦

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