Anxious was an understatement, it hadn't exactly clicked in my mind that an Aston Martin Owner's Club gathering would boast some of Australia's most wealthy car enthusiasts - good thing I'm wearing my camo pants ... first impressions and all!
- Words by George Skentzos Photographs by Anthony Crawford
The morning hadn't gone perfectly I'll admit, the details of our final destination had been narrowed down to the 'Hunter Valley' - not particularly accurate but on the bright side more specific then 'Australia'.
With a can-do attitude and Japan's finest turbo underfoot, we headed from Sydney in the general direction of north with the sat-nav doing its best to narrow down our search area.
Luckily it didn't take long to put two and two together on the freeway, spotting a new Vantage convertible in British Racing Green on the horizon - still some way out from the Hunter Valley, we decided to follow it.
I have a feeling the sight of our menacing black Mitsubishi Evo X in the rear-view mirror may have been considered suspicious, especially after an hour or so of erratic pursuit - not to mention when we finally followed it through the gates of the Sebel Kirkton Park.
With my nosed pressed against the glass I was at first disappointed, only a handful of Aston's arranged randomly throughout the car park - it wasn't until we rounded the corner that I realised they were there by chance, with the AMOC congregating on the lawns of the vast vineyard.
What they lacked in numbers they certainly made up for in quality, with some of the finest Aston's ever made in attendance.
It's actually quite impressive when you think about it, this was not your average show'n'shine - many of the cars on display are usually relegated to prestige garages under a car cover – never to be seen, so it was definitely surreal to admire them up close and personal.
Depending on who you spoke to, the Aston Martin Zagato was by far the star of the show.
A highly exclusive coachbuilt Aston based on a lightened and shortened DB7, it is one of only 99 in the entire world sold to the public - and the only one in Australia.
At around $600,000 in the local money, it carried a significant premium over the standard DB7 - but that was the price of exclusivity, a common interest in this uncommon crowd.
Every panel on the Zagato - including the roof - is completely unique, boasting a 6.0-litre, V12 engine good for 435bhp in the old money.
There are certain benefits to buying such an exclusive car - along with a scale replica of the Zagato itself, buyers received their own Zagato leather jacket, signed commemorative book, and a choice of any available build number - #59 in this case to mark the year of the owner's wedding.
The interior is simply exquisite, lathed in supple diamond stitched Aniline leather - a throwback to the original 1960's DB4 GT Zagato.
Despite their rarity, the DB4 was by far the most well represented model - the rarest of which being an original 1962 model once owned by David Brown himself.
As the owner of Aston Martin at the time, he was privy to special treatment with his DB4, boasting a 4.0-litre, straight-six engine instead of the usual 3.7-litre unit as well as an upgraded dash from the much rarer GT model.
Another stand-out feature at the event – juxtaposed by its modern incarnation, the DBS – was a replica DBR2 Le Mans racer.
Don’t be fooled by its replicated origins, this is a serious piece of Aston Martin racing history.
Weighing in at slightly more than nothing, the DBR2 boasts a 4.2-litre, V12 engine making it quick even by today’s standards.
Harbouring a fondness for the rare and unusual – as though the Aston badge hadn’t already filled those criteria – the owner knows of only two DBR2 replicas in existence, with the other selling for $275,000 recently in the US, however this is a far cry from the original $5-million price tag for the genuine Le Mans racer.
Assuming its classic racing lines hadn’t already convinced you it was bred for the track, it boasts some interesting pit lane technologies, with a ‘sight gauge’ built into the 165-litre fuel tank so that the pit crew knew when to stop filling.
Built in the 1930s, the oldest Aston in attendance while scarce on details did produce an interesting little bit of trivia.
Its gauges were created for Aston Martin by a company named Jaeger – fast forward more than 70 years and this has evolved into Jaeger LeCoultre, a company which now produces exclusive timepieces for the Aston Martin brand - most recently the AMVOX2 DBS Transponder.
For a brand usually associated with some of the most stunning automotive creations in the world, the Aston Martin Lagonda was certainly ‘unique’ in this respect.
Touted as a luxurious vision of Aston Martin’s future, its appearance is as unconventional now as it was when it was originally created.
Surrounded by General Manager’s, CEO’s and the odd Sheik, it was certainly a unique experience to chat with fellow car enthusiasts with the passion and resources to make their childhood fantasies a reality.