Our Cars - 1970 Aston Martin DBS
by Dan Mooney
Other cars in the CJ fleet


 
 

 

Purchased in 2007, this beautiful Aston Martin DBS is one of the longest tenured members of the CJ fleet. It is now time to dust it off following an extended period of storage and put this wonderful old car back on the road!
 

 
 

 

June 2, 2018
We have now completed our DBS engine rebuild. Currently debating whether to convert to a Steel Wings five speed in place of the Borg Warner automatic.

 
   

 
 
 
 
 
   

 


Putting the finishing touches to the DBS engine rebuild.





Ready to start assembling the short block
Forged CJ/Ross pistons 













 
Pistons and rods now installed













Ready to install the previously rebuilt head


Cylinder head rebuild completed....





   

 


Cylinder head rebuild underway...

 Pressure testing the cyl head
 
Testing head on flow bench

 

 

 
 
 In stock configuration, head put
up some pretty big numbers
 Cutting out the old seats
 

 

 

 
 
 New custom seats and valves
New seats installed
 Porting about to get underway


Time to clean and paint the block...







     
 






   




 
     


After honing the cylinders, the liners were removed and the block was thoroughly cleaned. The block was then heated, the liners cooled, and new O rings installed at the bottom of each liner. The following photos and video show Kevin installing the liners.







Block is heated in the oven
Bare block is extremely light 
O rings at the bottom of each
liner
are wiped with soap








 

 






Nice 'back lit' shot of honed liner
Liners sit about .0015" proud
of
block deck
Kevin installing the first liner 
 







 

 







 
Heated soap escapes from
weep holes


 


We have now honed the cylinders to fit the custom forged pistons.
 
     

   


We have now align honed the block. All mains now within spec (measuring between 2.9157" and 2.9159") with less than one tenth of one thousandths of an inch (.0001") variation across all seven caps.

     


We have now received the block, connecting rods and crankshaft back from the machine shop in California. Unfortunately, the newly honed cylinders were inexplicably covered in deeply ingrained surface rust so we are obviously going to have to re-hone them. Also, three of the main caps were a few tenths too loose, and the front cap was .0005" too tight, with a .0006" taper across the cap. Needless to say, we are obviously going to have to redo the align hone, too. All a bit disappointing, to put it mildly, but nothing we can't put right in the CJ machine shop over the next few days.

The block will be align honed
Cleaning the main caps
Block in the align hone
machine
 



   
Caps being cut square
New aluminum expansion tank
Beautiful new alloy radiator


One step forward, two steps back....

The good news is that this is a totally, one hundred percent, rust free Aston Martin DBS. The bad news is that the car, as purchased, needed a complete mechanical rebuild. Having rebuilt the carbs and automatic transmission, installed a new stainless steel exhaust and sorted out the mess of wiring left by a previous (presumably pyromaniac) mechanic, I then decided to fix a few minor cosmetic issues that had been bugging me. As well as re-trimming the dash top, we also put some nice black hide on the shifter console, and spent an obscene amount of money on a new steering wheel. The old windscreen seal was leaking so we removed the screen in order to fit a new seal - and somehow managed to break the old screen in the process. A new Triplex screen was obtained at great expense, and thankfully installed in one piece. And so the challenges kept coming...

Anyway, at about this point I became flushed with optimism and actually washed the car, foolishly thinking I might take it home that evening. Noticing that it was all it could do to pull itself up one of the ramps (a very modest gradient) outside the CJ workshop, I began to doubt whether it was really going to be up to the task of my planned afternoon commute. A glance under the bonnet revealed a huge amount of oil blowing past the piston rings, and a compression and leak-down test confirmed my worst fears - engine rebuild time.

Looking for positives in all of this, I do at least take some comfort from the fact that I should end up with one of the very best DBS Astons out there when my work is done. That I may have to sell an organ or two in order to fund the project is a mite unfortunate...Obviously, my next job is to pull the engine. While I have the engine out, I have decided I might as well go ahead and restore the engine bay.... and have a nice alloy radiator made.... and maybe some cool alloy coolant tanks....and maybe a five speed conversion...







Center console will be trimmed
Wiring needs attention
 
 



   






Installing a new SS exhaust
  New exhaust hangers $$$
 



   






  Interior starting to look very nice
New steering wheel $$$
 



   






Washing the car (prematurely)
   
 

Dashtop retrim completed - center console next!
Finishing off the dash retrim
   
 



   
Front edge of retrimmed dashtop
now looks factory
Cutting out speaker hole
 
 



   
     
 



   

Console also needs help
Switch panel will be restored


All sorts of stuff going on with the DBS this week! We have replaced the engine mounts, repaired the broken engine mount brackets, removed the front screen, removed the transmission for rebuild and removed the center console and dashtop for a retrim.

 






Engine mount bracket cracked
  Simple weld repair was all that
was needed

 




   






Time to remove the screen
  Sam razors the dry, old seal off
 




   






Chrome clips will be replaced
 
 




   






Dash top will be recovered

Front spoiler removed for repair

Seats removed








 






Chassis # on masking tape
Chassis # stamped in the dash
Cleaning away all the old glue
 




   







We etch primed the stripped
dash frame

Reinstalling factory scribed
masking tape

 




   


   

   

 


We found some seriously thick bondo at the back edge of the boot lid where the car has obviously suffered some minor collision damage in the past - probably a low speed parking incident.
 
Aircraft stripper used on boot lid

 
 



   
Car was originally Olive Green

This is REALLY thick!
 



   
 
Stripped boot lid sealed with
epoxy primer
Back edge of bonnet


This is basically a great car that needs a major mechanical service and thorough fettling. Cosmetically, the car is obviously very presentable, but is let down by its weak mechanical condition. A tentative test drive before work began revealed a host of mechanical woes, not least of which the almost complete absence of any brakes! Add to that the need for a transmission rebuild, complete suspension overhaul, carb rebuild, new exhaust, etc, and you can see that we have quite a bit of work to do before this car can become the frequent driver it was intended to be at the time it was purchased.

 Rear brakes will be serviced 1st
 
Rear seat is removed to access
the rear brake calipers
 


 
 
 Car has newish hide interior
Access panel for rear brakes 
 
 


 
 
 Brakes were sticking and pads
had been fried
Cleaned up, SS pistons
Rebuilt calipers reinstalled 
 


 
 
 Rear springs to be replaced next
Rusty aftermarket exhaust
being cut away...
 New SS exhaust on order
 


 
 
 Who would do this to an
Aston Martin?
 Engine not square in engine
bay - LH engine mount shot
Loose fasteners everywhere....
 
 


 
 Front shocks and springs will be 
replaced and upgraded
Swaybar mounts were replaced
This explains why no handbrake! 
   


 
 Both doors need adjustment,
especially the LH
LH striker was loose - literally held in
place with some jerry rigged wire
Once removed, we found the backing
plate threads were stripped out
 



 
 
RH door now fits, opens
and closes perfectly
 Repaired LH striker reinstalled
 New front screen seal

 

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