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It was snowing, and the Dryhurst family were tramping through London on their way to buy an Aston Martin V8 on a bitterly cold day in February 1985.

With £8,000 in cash sewn into his coat pockets, teenage son Carl was flanked by mum Beryl and dad Brian, who was about to fulfil a boyhood dream.

Brian, now 83, was a wide-eyed 11-year-old when he fell in love with Astons, seduced by the marque’s racing battles with Jaguar in the post-war age of austerity.

In the Aston school

“You were in one school or the other, and I was in the Aston Martin school,” he says.

“I used to buy a magazine just because they had a picture of one. I ended up with a whole collection of them, things like The Autocar.”

Brian kept the magazines and, more than 30 years later when the family Ford Granada gave up the ghost, they played a key role in its replacement.

“Carl asked me what I was going to get, and I said ‘no idea, maybe another Granada’,” he says. “He said ‘I see you’ve got a lot of magazines, what do you have them for?’ I told him it was because I was an Aston Martin freak and he said ‘why don’t you get one?’

“So I thought about it for a while and decided: ‘he’s right’.”

That’s how they ended up trudging through the snow to a dealer in west London, travelling to the capital by bus and Brian driving the yellow, V8 back to Norfolk.

“It was freezing and snowing, and all the way back there were cars upside down in ditches and every single one was a yellow car,” says Carl, now a senior refinement engineer at Lotus Cars.

A class apart

They could all tell immediately that the Aston was a class apart from their old Granada.

“It really impressed me, the acceleration, the handling was in a totally different world,” says Brian. “Just put your foot down and go.”

Fast forward more than 35 years, and the Aston Martin – now in need of a mild restoration – has firmly embedded itself in the whole family’s affections.

“It’s part of the family,” says Brian. “It’s not just a car. The thing about it is, it’s not only me – it’s my wife, it’s my son, my daughter, they all feel the same about it. They all love it.”

Sheffield-born Brian met Beryl when he was posted to RAF Coltishall in Norfolk while undertaking National Service.

“She was working in Norwich at Norfolk Shoe Company, who decided to put on a dance for their women employees,” he says.

“To ensure they had a male contingent there, they invited people from all the RAF stations.

“I came home, got changed and met up with the two friends I was going with. They were absolutely slaughtered – all I could do was sit them down somewhere. I thought ‘I’ll have a dance’, and I met Beryl as a result.”

The couple were married in 1961, and Brian bought his first car a year later, a 1937 Austin 16 Light Six, having learned to drive in his father’s Ford Anglia.

“It cost £7.50, and I bought it because I had to go down to a training course in Bury St Edmunds and I needed transport to get there,” he says. “It happened so quickly, even though I could have afforded a more expensive car I had to have the first thing that was available.”

It lasted about a year, and was followed by two Ford Populars, a Prefect and then the 3-litre Granada.

“I’ll get attached to a car”

“I have this thing where I’ll get attached to a car,” says Brian. “It doesn’t matter how old it is, I’ll keep it going, and we had the Granada for ages.

“It was quite a good car actually, but it started to give a bit of trouble. Unfortunately I had to go into hospital with peritonitis, which meant an operation, and as my wife took the car to the hospital it broke down completely.”

That was when Carl, then 18 and in possession of a driving licence, quizzed his father about his stash of old car magazines, and the search was on for an Aston Martin.

“I wanted him to get a BMW 635 initially because a friend’s dad had one,” says Carl, “but I did like the Astons as well.

“We looked at two or three, a DBS6 which was local, a burgundy one with a red interior that mum didn’t like, and a brown DB6 – if we’d had hindsight we should have bought that because they’re worth a lot of money now. And then there was this one.”

‘This one’ is a 1976, 5.3-litre V8 pushing out about 300bhp and hitting 60mph in just 6.1 seconds with its automatic transmission.

“It attracted me because of the unusual colour,” says Brian. “Normally yellow is not a colour I’d like, but it just seemed to suit it.

“£8,000 was quite a lot of money in 1985, but you were looking at a luxury car. Coming home, I must admit I looked down at the speedometer on the motorway and I’m doing nearly 110mph. It was so smooth I didn’t notice.

A pleasure to drive

“It was a pleasure to drive, more so in my opinion than the newer Astons. And the note of the engine is something you always remember.”

The big V8 served as the family car until about 2010 when, with more than 90,000 miles on the clock, it was mostly taken off the road for a planned refurbishment that is now finally underway.

“We’ve driven all over the country in it,” says Brian. “If we wanted to go somewhere, that car took us – to Scotland, Wales, and up to Sheffield where my daughter Kay works as a doctor.”

He wasn’t the only one who enjoyed driving the Aston, with Carl sometimes allowed the keys from his teenage years onwards.

“His eyes used to light up,” says Brian. “Occasionally myself and my wife would go to the theatre or something in Norwich, so he drove us down and used the car for the evening, pulling the birds, then picked us up and drove us home.”

Carl has used the car for holidays to Dorset and Kent, “to impress girlfriends”, but also remembers one evening when girls were far from his mind.

Seafront drag strip

“I was meant to see my girlfriend, but I blew her out and went to Great Yarmouth and did the drag strip on the seafront with my mates,” he laughs. “Some of them took the mick out of me saying it was a Mustang. Some of them still do.

“I also remember taking my sister to medical school in London, with the car packed full of stuff around us. There was absolutely no room in the car.”

Beryl was also a regular user of the Aston, taking it to work when Brian was overseas for long stretches, working as a self-employed geophysicist.

“She would drive it to work but wouldn’t park it outside,” he says. “She took it round the side because of all the employees asking her about it.”

The car has always attracted plenty of attention on the roads, and Brian remembers a family trip to Yarmouth in the mid ‘80s when mods and rockers would descend on the seaside resort.

“All four of us were in the car and suddenly a squad of the Hells Angels caught us up, and escorted us the whole way to Yarmouth from just outside Norwich – two at the front, two at the sides and two at the back,” he says.

“It was quite frightening, because two of them were so close to the side of us. When we got there they just put their thumbs up and rode off!”

The car was displayed at its fair share of Aston Martin Club meetings, and Brian was all set to tour abroad with the club before the trip fell through.

Little used

The Aston has been little used since 2010, and at the time of our visit Carl is busy tinkering with the V8’s fuel pump having pushed the car out on to the drive for photographs.

“I did intend to do the work myself, but when you have grown up children – and grandchildren – the world changes and I didn’t have time to touch it,” says Brian.

“And now, with my age…I’m not getting any younger, and I find it one hell of a job to try and get underneath it.”

That’s where Carl comes in, who is just as passionate about the car as his father, and will one day take on the ownership himself.

“We’ll do it between us,” says Brian, “and if anything happens to me the car’s his. I always wanted one but really he’s the one that pushed me into getting it, so it seems right.

“I want to get it done and then just have it for the rest of my time.”

Lotus know-how

The Aston will be in good hands with Carl, who has worked for Lotus for 27 years and has helped refine cars like the Elise and Evora.

He also has a history of working on classic cars, but the V8 is a very different beast to the MGs and Austin-Healeys he would restore in his younger years.

“It is quite weird now to look at it and think how old it is,” he says. “When dad bought it, it wasn’t classic, that’s the weird thing.”

Covid scuppered plans to get the car on the road for his teenage daughter’s prom this summer but, with restrictions now lifting, he is free to visit his dad’s house and work on the car together.

“The plan was a few years ago to get it back running for various family occasions,” says Carl. “Covid knocked out last year so I want to get it mobile now. My daughter loves it and wanted it for her prom, but that was never going to happen in time.”

Carl has a comprehensive list of jobs to get the car back to its best, some of which he can do himself while others will need outside help.

“I know what needs to be done, I just need to get on with it now,” he says.

Once he’s completed the refurbishment of the fuel pump, flushed the tank out, got the car running again and renewed the brakes, he can start to call in some favours.

Pull in some favours

“Once it’s roadworthy and can be driven it makes life a lot easier,” he adds. “I’ve got lots of friends, doing what I do, who specialise in paintwork and interior trim so I’m hoping to pull some favours.

“I’ve got a company lined up to recore the radiator, and I know a company that can overhaul the engine.”

If the car gets a new lick of paint, it will definitely be in its original yellow.

“I wouldn’t change the colour – l love the colour – though I used to hate it at one point,” he says. “I went through liking it, then hating it, then liking it again.”

In any case, his dad would never sanction a change…

When the Aston does one day pass to Carl, there’s no question of him ever selling it.

“It’s a great car, it looks great, my daughters love it, and I will keep it forever for sure,” he says. “It’s got so many memories for me, so I could never part with it.”

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