The Aston Martin DB6 is still one of the most recognizable cars from the British automaker’s history, but while Aston had experimented with body styles that weren’t coupes and convertibles with various Lagonda models, it never made plans to field station wagons. But this didn’t stop customers from relying on British coachbuilders to construct shooting brake versions of a variety of sports and luxury cars.
Radford was one such coachbuilder, and in a couple of weeks a very rare example of an Aston Martin DB6 Vantage Shooting Brake will be offered at Bonhams’ Quail auction on the west coast.
The DB6 Vantage, of course, is powered by a 3,995-cc six-cylinder with a five-speed manual transmission, good for 325 hp, and features disc brakes all around. The performance served up was phenomenal for the time, offering a top speed near 150 mph and quarter-mile times in the mid-14 seconds. At the time this was nothing short of supercar performance, and combined with a sleek body and modest dimensions, the DB6 Vantage was a serious performance machine, finding plenty of popularity in Europe and in the U.S.
Just how did this conversion materialize?
This DB6 Vantage was ordered to be built as a shooting brake from the start by Middleton George Charles “Middy” Train, who worked in his family real estate business in Washington, D.C., and also enjoyed golf and duck hunting. Just about every option box was ticked when the car was commissioned, and the car was briefly registered in the U.K. in 1966, presumably for road testing.
“In the U.K. coachbuilders Harold Radford & Co. who were not one of the established 19th Century houses, but moreover was formulated in the late 1940s, quickly became the go to house for tailored Country orientated vehicle conversions,” Bonhams notes. “A number of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars received the ‘Countryman’ treatment, while the Radford company was also known for luxury styling upgrades to Minis also.”
One rare feature is the presence of factory air conditioning—something that saw little demand in Europe and tended to add considerable weight—but that made plenty of sense for the summer climate of Washington, D.C. The car also features a sunroof by Webasto, which was a bit of a novelty item at the time.
The car was delivered to Mr. Train in the fall of 1966, who kept it for about 10 years. The shooting brake then passed into the ownership of David L. Van Schaick of Pennsylvania, who acquired it in 1976, the auction house reports.
“Throughout his ownership it was prized and used sporadically; to this day the odometer reading sits below 50,000 which could well be original miles. Since his passing the car has been checked over and looked after by Michael Pechstein at Vintage Motorsports Inc. of Malvern,” Bonhams reports. “The Aston’s condition can best be described as reflecting its age and sympathetic ownership, there are the rudimentary chips and paint losses to the bodywork at the more used areas, the interior is a little dried but almost entirely original and in remarkably good order for its age, and Vintage Motorsports reported that beneath the car its structure is surprising good.”
The auction house estimates this shooting brake to bring between $1 million and $1.2 million on auction day. This estimate range is well north of DB6 Vantage coupes, and of course reflects the rarity of such machines—this is one of just six DB6 cars that Radford bodied as shooting brakes, in addition to two other made by FLM Panelcraft.
Station wagon conversions of any Aston Martin model do not come up for auction very often, and the no-stories nature of this car helps to paint a picture of a well maintained example. Whether this will be enough to propel it to the million mark, however, is a different question, as demand for these conversions tends to be far less predictable than for factory cars.
Visit the auction website to view the full list of lots and the auction schedule.
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