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Customer Number Plate Story: SUE 1

Number Plate Story SUE 1

I Suggest Changing my Sister's Name to Match Number Plate SUE 1

My first view of the car must have been shortly after this date when, one Saturday morning, my father took me aged five, my sister aged two and my mother, through the back door of the garage at number 8, Hampton Lane, Solihull. I was confronted with the radiator grille on the first Aston-Martin that I had seen. I was (and remain) deeply impressed. I also noted the number plate and suggested that we change my sister's name to Sue. After all, she was only two, she wouldn't know the difference! This suggestion did not find favour with either of my parents.

The car was simply known as 'the DB' in our household. I remember my mother driving it only once and that was after Church one Sunday. It was not a success and she never drove it again.

The car was used as daily transport by my father until he bought a more practical family car, a Daimler 'Majestic'. The DB was then used for fun, high-days and holidays. My father always preferred the hood down. It has to be said that with the hood down, the car is devastatingly attractive. It loses some of this attraction with the hood up.

We moved from Hampton Lane in about 1965, to 13, Alderbrook Road, the other side of Solihull. The Daimler 'Majestic' was replaced by a Daimler 'Majestic Major', which was a longer version; half way between a car and a limousine. The DB was getting used less. I know that the MG A came with us to Alderbrook Road. By this time, the rear of the car had been cut away to accommodate me and my sister. Eventually (like a lot of MG A's) body rot set in with a vengeance and it was eventually scrapped and replaced with a Morris 1000 Traveller, OOG 22G.

We had a caravan in Aberdovey on the Welsh coast and one summer we, as a family of four, went to the caravan for two weeks in the DB! Not the most practical way to travel on holiday. How we got everything in, I do not know.

The car was owned by my father's company. In the early 1970s, there was talk of taxing company cars. My father saw the writing on the wall and decided to buy the car from the company. It can be said, therefore, that the DB was the first car my father actually owned!

The DB was progressively less used. Occasionally, my father and I would get it out of the garage and fire it up and go for a drive. The odometer showed c. 11,500 miles when it was eventually sold, but this was only a five-figure odometer and I know that it had been round the clock, so the total mileage was around 111,500 miles.

In 1988, my father was taken ill for the first and last time in his life. Sadly, he died about 8 weeks later. Whilst he was in hospital, I chatted with him about the car and he wanted me to find out the then current value. The only place that I knew that could do that was Four Ashes garage in Bearley, near Stratford. The owner, Jack Moss, had known my father many years previously. Four Ashes were (and still are) the Aston Martin specialists in the Midlands area and one of very few in the country.

I rang them and, due to a bit of a mix-up, the person to whom I was speaking, thought that I wanted to buy a DB 2/4. He told me that it would cost me about £60,000. This was at the high point of Aston Martin values which had flown on the coat-tails of the huge rise in Ferrari values. This figure took no account of the number plate. I knew that this would come as a very severe shock to my father and, sadly, he died without knowing it.

Obviously, the aftermath of his death was traumatic, especially given my father's unique way dealing with and filing paperwork. It was all dealt with eventually. My mother decided that she wanted to sell the DB. Now that was going to be a problem as the DB by itself was fairly easy to value, but the number plate was not. If I advertised the car, then I would have a succession of people beating a path to our door. Ideally, I wanted someone who loved Aston Martins, had a wife called Sue and a lot of money. Amazingly, I found two who were friends of friends. One came down from Scotland and had a very good look at the car. The other was on his yacht in the Mediterranean (sounded very promising). He couldn't get there in person, so he sent a friend of his who was a leading light in the Aston Martin owners club. For some reason, my father had stuck with the MG Car Club and had never joined.

This chap turned up and must have spent about four hours looking at the car and talking to me. I learned more from him in that time that I had ever known. Like there were 73 DB 2/4 Mark 1s built, together with eight rolling chassis for aftermarket (Italian) bodies. Only the last few built had the 3 litre engine and indicators rather than trafficators.

We received offers from both these individuals, but my mother suddenly decided that she did not want to sell the car, at least not so soon after my father's death. I had two rather difficult letters to write, assuring both that I had been dealing with them in good faith. So we kept the car. In about 1992, my mother left Alderbrook Road. There was, of course, the problem of moving a car that hadn't moved for some years. I contacted Four Ashes again and this time spoke with Jack's daughter-in-law, Jean.

After telling her what I wanted, her first words were, "That wouldn't be SUE 1 would it?" When I confirmed that it was, she was very excited telling me that she would tell Jack immediately as they always knew that it would surface eventually. Four Ashes duly did the transporting to my mother's new address. But it still wasn't used.

In 1994, the collapse of my marriage meant that I moved in with my Mother. Now I was close to the car and, one evening, Mama and I discussed the future of the car. Bearing in mind that I still hadn't driven it, I wasn't too keen on getting rid of it, but how much would it cost to put back on the road? Should we 'cocoon' the car properly? This time, I didn't go to Four Ashes as it would probably be too expensive.

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