When I was led to write the ‘Replica Classic Cars’ post, earlier this year, as a result of seeing an advertisement for a replica Austin Healey 3000, I couldn’t have envisaged that I would then go on to write this piece. The reason for me doing so is that a friend sent me two links to eBay ‘wanted’ advertisements. One was looking to purchase a car registration plate, EMU – – -, including the car that it was attached to if necessary and the other was looking for a damaged Aston Martin DB4 or DB5. My friend also attached, to his email, a photograph of Roy Salvadori driving an Aston Martin DB3S with the registration number 63 EMU (DB3S/7), there was also a sister car (DB3S/6) with the registration 62 EMU. Other than saying “An interesting story here Nick” no other information was supplied. I applied my always active imagination and deduced that someone might be intent on building an Aston Martin DB3S replica. I did some research on the AM DB3 and DB3S and found it to be a very rich story. Apparently, there are still nine AM DB3Ss in existence and on the rare occasions that they come up for sale they can fetch anywhere between £3 and £5 million.
Replicas of these cars have been produced in the past. I have come across ones created by well known (to Aston Martin and historic car racing enthusiasts) Bill Monk. The cars were sold as W.A.M. (Bill’s initials) Aston Martin DB3S Replicas, eleven were built in total. One example was auctioned in 2019, by Silverstone Auctions and fetched £42K, this was below the estimate of £45 – 55K. Bill decided to retire and sold his moulds and tooling to Grandstand Coachworks based near Chippenham, Wiltshire, U.K.
Having been guided to Aston Martin replicas by the original email, inevitably, I discovered more replicas of models from this illustrious manufacturer’s range. Here are just a couple of them –
The above car is a “one off” with an interesting story part of which is told below by its owner Les Johnson. The story of the company that made it is equally interesting. I will let Errol Tempero’s son, Rod, tell the story himself – “We manufacture and restore exciting and desirable road registered cars of the 50’s and 60’s era. These beautiful vehicles are hand built, with every aspect to the original specification, using techniques and tooling handed down over three generations of motor body builders.
I began my career in 1979, working with my father Errol Tempero, in a business which could trace its history back to 1946 when my grandfather Alan Tempero began his coach building business. We produced replica D-Type, C-Type, XJ13 and XK180 Jaguars, Aston Martin DBR2, all with the highest quality workmanship and attention to detail.
My father later sold the business, and after working for the new owners for a time, I decided to get back to family values and began my own company ‘Rod Tempero Motor Body Builders Ltd.’; continuing the 80 year culture of superior service and craftsmanship in the Tempero family. We continue to produce these exciting cars today and currently have some very desirable projects underway, including rare restorations.”
I contacted Les Johnson in order to obtain his permission to publish a photo of his car (above) and reproduce his story which was included in the excellent article published in 2013, by Les and his wife Roselee, in celebration of Aston Martin’s centenary. Here it is –
“My Aston Martin DBR2, started life as a DB6 but was damaged by fire in the 1980’s and I purchased the remains of this car from Andrew Frazer of Hamilton in Victoria.
After negotiating a deal with Mr. Errol Tempero of Oamaru in New Zealand, the arrangements were made. In return, I supplied all the mechanical parts and Errol would take care of the rest. He, being a man of his word, the car was completed some 5 years later. I have used the car on many outings and it is a totally fun machine to drive. The car now plays hell on Roselee’s back, but I think she did enjoy the car in the past. This was the car to test how far a marriage can go! After a return trip from Wellington in the pouring
rain on a TSCC run, as the rain passed through our underwear and out of our socks for 2 ½ hours, we eventually stopped for a coffee break and Roselee made the statement “I married you for better or worse and I’m telling you that this is the worst!” Honestly, until then I had not realised that there is actually a limit in marriage. My son Rick and I took the DBR2 replica over to England,
France, Holland, Germany, Italy and Switzerland for the 100th year celebration of Aston Martin, but sadly the car failed in Nurburgring, Germany where we had to leave the car at the Aston Martin Workshop. There was a fault in the de Dion rear axle hub making us unable to complete in time. The car was exported back to Australia and we missed out driving the Monza track in Italy.”
Before leaving Aston Martin I should acknowledge the fact that in 2017 this company decided to enter the “continuation” arena. First with the introduction of the DB4 G.T. model, of which twenty-five examples would be built, all with VINs continuing on from the original DB4 G.T.s. Then came the DB4 G.T. Zagato of which nineteen are to be built. Most recent of the continuation models is the ‘Goldfinger’ DB5, based upon the specification of the 1964 James Bond car, complete with functioning gadgets. The plan is to build twenty five of these cars. Similar to JLR, Aston Martin have set up a special facility or “Works” to build theses continuation cars. In AM’s case, AstonMartinWorks is located at the original factory in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire.
So, both Jaguar and Aston Martin have realised that there is money to be made from the “continuation” game. I do not use the word “game” lightly! I would imagine that the vast majority of the readers of these posts will not have enough “chips” to bid against others determined to own one of these rare cars. Those that have are likely to be rich people who already have stables of ‘automotive exotica”. To add insult to injury (only to ordinary folk not to potential owners of these cars) you cannot collect your car from Newport Pagnell or Coventry and belt off down the M1. They are not road legal! They do not have Type Approval or IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) as required by the DVLA. There are companies that can carry out the necessary modifications but it costs several tens of thousands of pounds to do. In any case, most of these cars will live cosseted lives in air-conditioned facilities, only to be looked at, or, be shown at exclusive ‘Concours’ events. Other, more ambitious and daring, owners may use them at ‘Track Day’ events, having transported them there on a trailer or in a converted Winnebago.
Here are photos of the three Aston Martin continuation models. All three photos are courtesy of astonmartinworks.com
After replying positively to my email, Les Johnson sent me another email attaching details of a “crowdfunding” campaign. It turned out that the purpose of the crowdfunding appeal was very pertinent to this article, although, frankly I wish that it wasn’t. The crowdfunding was on behalf of Swedish citizen, Karl Magnusson, a life long Jaguar enthusiast who wanted to build a limited run (six) of replica Jaguar ‘C’ Types. JLR took Magnusson to court, in Sweden, on the charge of infringing the rules of copyright. JLR won its case and for reasons that baffle me the Magnusson family were hit with substantial, life-changing, costs. Not daunted, they want to appeal against the court’s judgement. The cost of doing so is beyond their means, especially after having to meet the costs and penalties of the original case, hence the crowdfunding appeal – https://gofund.me/f6916372
This case and the judgement of the Swedish court has significant implications for the many builders of replica classics around the world; so, mounting the appeal and winning it is important to the whole industry. JLR has been embarrassed by the bad publicity that has been generated by what is seen as its overzealous pursuit of the Swedish pensioner; to the extent that their ‘Director of Classic’ has written an open letter to Jaguar and Land Rover Owners Clubs, attempting to justify the company’s action. One of the biggest criticisms levelled at the company, by knowledgeable Jaguar enthusiasts, is that in the past, Jaguar, pre Tata ownership, collaborated with builders of replicas of its cars. Why this new stance? I would venture the view, without prejudice, that the change in the company’s position has a lot to do with its decision to start making and marketing “continuation” versions of its most iconic models.
This started in 2014 when the newly formed SVO department was commissioned to build six additional Lightweight E Types, seven if the development prototype is included. I use the word “additional” because in 1963 Jaguar planned to build eighteen Lightweight E Types as a promotional exercise. Only 12 were built leaving six pre-designated vehicle build numbers unused. It was those numbers that were used for the “continuation” cars in 2014. Incidentally, the prototype “continuation” car sold for $1.71M. at RM/Sotheby’s auction of the Elkhart Collection in October 2020. So, you can see, there is big money to be made by Factory built “continuation” cars. JLR does not want that to be undermined by the existence of “replicas”, however well researched or constructed they may be. So, suddenly, they have decided to invoke the law of copyright to frighten off any and all current and future builders of replica Jaguars, or Land Rovers for that matter.
JLR is protecting an initial investment of £7M. made in its “Classic Works” division based at its Ryton-on-Dunsmore, near Coventry, facility (the former Rootes/Chrysler/Peugeot site). “Motor City” breathes again! This division was launched in the summer of 2017, since then “continuation E types, referred to as “E Type Reborn”, D Types and XKSSs have been produced. Earlier this year it was announced that “Classic Works” will produce eight continuation C Types. Was the Swedish court case just a coincidence?
When I started writing this second post dedicated to Replica Classic Cars (RCC) I could not have envisaged having to write about the storm clouds gathering around the replica industry. That is mainly to do with the fact that I have never studied the industry that closely before. Of course, I have been aware of replica classics, I have mostly admired them at car shows that I have attended, or read about them in magazines. When I first encountered the Ferrari F355 replicas with Toyota MR2 engines etc., referred to in my first RCC post, I did wonder then, “Why does Ferrari allow this to happen?” I have never been able to find an adequate answer. I found a comment “online” which suggested that Ferrari employ lawyers to send out “cease and desist” letters to constructors of replicas of Ferrari cars. That’s as may be, all I can say is that they are singularly unsuccessful because there are still a great many Ferrari replicas, some good and some excellent (an example of the latter being the GTO Engineering revival of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB shown below), made every year. Also, last year Ferrari lost a court case against a fellow Modena based car company, Ares Design, over the right to build Ferrari 250 GTO replicas. The EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) ruled that Ferrari’s copyright on the 250 GTO design had lapsed because it had not built any of these cars during the past five years. Why didn’t the Magnusson lawyers cite this ruling when defending their client against Jaguar? I came across this “use it or lose it” clause some years ago when the Swiss based owner of the Jensen name wanted to stop an English company making cars under that name. As in the Ferrari case, the court ruled that the Swiss owners had not used the name in the more than ten years that they had owned it, so, their claim was ruled invalid.
I will wait with bated breath to see the outcome of the Magnusson appeal against the Jaguar judgement. I am sure that many constructors of Replica Classics will too.
Before I close, I want to share with you my favourite reincarnation (replica falls short in this case, in my opinion) of a famous car –
The first time I came across the description “continuation” as applied to cars was when a contact in the U.S. told me of a friend of his who owned a continuation Cunningham C4R. I was writing about Donald Healey’s connection with Briggs Cunningham at the time so I incorporated the story of how the Cunningham C4R continuation series came into existence into that article. Here is the link to it –
** I wrote about the the “Blue Train” story in this article first published last year –
Those of you who are of an academic or philosophical bent might be interested in this, it is relevant to the topic of Replica Classic Cars –