Larry and Nanci Kahn never planned to become Aston Martin collectors. But in the 2000s, after they purchased their first car – a Beverly Hills limited edition DB7 Volante – they instantly fell in love with the British marque.
Over the next decade or so this Californian couple bought two more identical convertibles in the same edition.
“Like every adolescent boy watching Sean Connery in James Bond movies in the 1960s, I wanted to have an Aston Martin,” Larry says, explaining his love from an early age of the classic brand. “But when I was 10 years old, I wasn’t able to drive. Then, when I was old enough to drive, I couldn’t afford an Aston Martin.”
By the time he’d reached middle age – now a successful sports broadcaster running his own business with his wife Nanci – the economic restraints ceased to be a problem.
In 2001, while on holiday in London, both Larry and Nanci had their heads turned at an Aston Martin dealership in Mayfair. 46 years old at the time, Larry vowed to treat himself to a car before his 50th birthday.
Over the next four years, the couple kept a close eye on the second-hand market. It was a convertible DB7 they most wanted.
Then, in 2005, via eBay, they spotted that very model for sale at a dealership in New Orleans. An added incentive was that the dealer offered to pay for Larry’s flight home to California – whether he purchased the car or not – if he came to test-drive it.
Seduced, Larry was soon in New Orleans, admiring the beautiful vehicle. It was a 1998 model, with a signature sill plaque in the driver’s door frame stating: “Beverly Hills limited edition, six of six.”.
Being a Californian, this naturally piqued his interest. But the dealer wasn’t quite sure what the wording on the plaque meant. Why only six editions? Surely Beverly Hills had sold many more than six convertible DB7s in 1998?
The price of the car was $66,000. “I drove it and I was impressed, but they were asking more than I wanted to pay,” Larry admits.
So he decided against parting with his money and headed home. Later, when the auction went online on eBay, Larry noticed how much interest there was from buyers all over the United States. Back in those days, when someone bid on eBay, their full email address was displayed, and Larry could see many of the bidders were professional dealers. Clearly this Beverly Hills limited edition DB7 was something extra special.
As the bidding price rapidly eclipsed the $66,000 he had initially been quoted, Larry phoned up the New Orleans seller who fortunately agreed to honour the original price.
“He told me: ‘If you want it, I’ll close down the eBay auction now and it’s yours for $66,000,’ Larry recalls. “He said: ‘You flew all the way out here, after all.’ So I had myself a DB7.”
Up until that point, Larry and Nanci had only ever owned practical cars for day-to-day driving. But they loved their new machine so much that they knew, one day, they would buy another one. They were clearly addicted to Aston Martins. “Through the years we were always keeping an eye out for a sister car,” Nanci explains.
In 2017, by chance, they saw another DB7 Volante for sale near Chicago. After looking it over, Larry wasn’t sure. “At first I wasn’t thrilled in that the owner was smoking cigars in the car and his dog was in the back seat,” he remembers. “It certainly wasn’t in the same condition my own DB7 was in.”
What’s more, the signature sill plaque stated “Palm Beach limited edition” rather than “Beverly Hills”.
So Larry did a bit of investigating, checking the car’s vehicle identification number. After much correspondence with the Aston Martin headquarters in the UK, he discovered it was in fact one of the Beverly Hills editions – number two of six, to be precise – only the plaque had been changed for some reason. He bought it for $30,000.
It turns out there are indeed six Beverly Hills limited edition DB7s. All manufactured in 1998, and all left-hand drive DB7 i6 models, they comprise two coupes (one manual and one automatic) and four volantes (one manual, three automatic). The lower interior and seats are in parchment hide, the upper interior and seat piping in blue hide. The wood veneers are made of burr maple.
A year later, Larry and Nanci had bought themselves their third Beverly Hills volante, this time number four of six in the edition, priced $33,000. “Now we were starting a collection,” Nanci says.
The couple live in Simi Valley, just north of Los Angeles and they happily point out how southern California is the perfect spot for enjoying convertible cars.
Careful to alternate their three vehicles, so as to give the engines a good turning over, they often drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu or Newport Beach. “We have temperatures of 72F (22C) in February, so we often say, ‘Let’s take the car out, take the top down and enjoy it for the day’.”
They keep one of the three DB7s in a garage at home; the other two in a storage facility. “We rotate them every few months because these cars need to be driven,” Larry explains.
Fortunately, the Kahns have had to do very little work on their Astons. One required a new transmission, one needed a wing mirror fixed, but the third is still pristine.
They employ a British guy living locally to carry out any repairs needed. “He’s an amazing mechanic and he knows the cars inside out,” says Nanci. “He calls them his ‘babies’.”
And now the Kahns’ 21-year-old son has developed a love for the DB7s. Initially he was “terrified” about taking them out for a drive, fearful of pranging the precious vehicles.
Larry says: “But out of the blue, the other day, he said, ‘I wouldn’t mind driving the Aston every now and then. He’s finally reconciled to it.
“He’s confident now and he knows he’s not going to drive it off the edge of a cliff accidentally,” Larry jokes.
But what of the three remaining cars – the three hard-tops – in the Beverly Hills edition? Surely Larry and Nanci want to complete their collection?
“An interesting thought,” Nanci says. “We’d need a bigger garage though.”
Larry says he is strictly a convertible man. “Hard-tops are not really our thing but if they became available, we’d certainly take a look. Equally, if someone had the other three and wanted ours, there’s a good chance we’d sell to them.”
Wherever the cars end up, it would be reassuring to know that one day all six will be part of the same collection.