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Bob Slack, the man who brings Aston Martins back to life

Image - Bob Slack, the man who brings Aston Martins back to life

It’s possible to start out as a kid, tinkering with Japanese trail bikes in your garage in England, and later become an expert restorer of the most valuable and most iconic Aston Martins, in France. It happened to Bob Slack, who now works his magic at the BPM Group’s Aston Martin dealership in Bordeaux.

If you’re looking for the soul of Aston Martin, you might just find it here, in Bob Slack’s workshop. Here sit an incomplete DB6 Vantage and a DB2/4 Mk III, amidst sundry parts bearing the winged logo, scattered but carefully arranged. But even without them, you would sense the essence of Aston Martin in the atmosphere that’s both serious and serene, respectful and affectionate. There’s something in the air that radiates pure passion, a love for meticulously executed work, carefully crafted metal and mechanical arts elevated to the highest degree of exclusivity and perfection.

It is here, at the Aston Martin dealership in Bordeaux, that Heritage Manager Robert Slack – Bob to his friends and clients – carries out his makeovers and brings back to life the cars entrusted to him by customers. Customers who, very soon after they arrive, become more than that: they become friends and admirers of the English magician. As he explains, it’s no surprise, since they’re often as fanatical about the brand as he is.

Was he predestined to become a miracle worker? “I fell in love with Aston-Martins very early on, more than 50 years ago, in the 70s.” But Bob followed a somewhat unusual course. “Strictly speaking, I didn’t study mechanics: I learned everything on the job, by myself.” He started young. “From the age of 10, I was tinkering with motorbikes. I loved Japanese bikes, they were like a drug to me.” A hard and highly addictive drug. Motorcycles soon covered every inch of his garage. “At one point, I had 19 of them! No road bikes, I was more attracted to trail bikes like the XT500. I fitted them with exhausts without silencers.” For the sound and the thrill, obviously.

His love for Aston Martins took root even earlier. “When I was a kid, my uncle owned several. His collection included a pre-war Ulster, a DB4 and a DB6.”

I was very young at the time, but I still have a very clear memory of the distinctive and haunting sound of the exhaust from my uncle’s Aston Martins.

Surrounded by extraordinary cars, he lives a waking dream. “I was 16 and yes, it was like a dream. I worked 7 days a week, often to 9 in the evening, just for the pure joy of it.” First in England, then in France, with Alain Aziza, who brought him to Paris. But the Parisian life didn’t suit him, and after four years Bob returned to England. He worked for several different garages – all Aston Martin, of course – and then, in 2014, Alain Aziza called him back. He had just acquired several collectible Aston Martins, and wanted them to be restored by the person he trusted most: Bob. And as he would be based not in Paris but at the Auto-Performance dealership in Bordeaux, Bob happily packed his bags and crossed back over the Channel.

This time, he says, he’s here to stay. He likes the region, and he loves the job. “Restoring an Aston Martin is both very demanding and hugely exciting.

An Aston Martin has some very specific characteristics, visible as well as invisible – engine, chassis, transmission.

That’s why, when you’re restoring an Aston Martin, you can’t just make it up as you go along. It takes considerable experience navigating all of its charms and secrets before you can even get started. “It’s understood in the industry that it takes a minimum of 10 years’ apprenticeship to acquire the know-how necessary to restore an Aston Martin.” And Bob already had much more than that. Upon his return to France, he restored six cars. From top to bottom. He truly is a master magician, holder of arcane knowledge and unique expertise.  

It’s well-known that the more you learn, the more you want to learn. Bob’s fascination with Aston Martin is undiminished and continues to grow, and the human aspect of his work provides him with an additional source of pride and pleasure. Aston Martin Bordeaux belongs to the BPM Group (Bornhauser Performance Motors), and they share the same values.      

The fact that Bob’s love for the brand is shared at the highest level of the group makes a real difference. Bob recalls Patrick Bornhauser’s enthusiasm for the brand: “He competed in the Le Mans 24-Hour Race with a DBR9, which he still owns.” Obviously, Bob feels in tune.

For him, Aston Martins stand out from all other sports cars, including other English brands.

“An Aston Martin is a GT of unrivaled distinction. It has that aura of exclusivity that transcends its Britishness.”

“Whether in terms of its body design, its interior or its engine sound, an Aston Martin is in a class of its own.” Sporty, but with a subtle touch of refinement that makes it truly unique.

And that is why Bob, the Aston Martin magician who brings legendary cars back to life, continues to weave his spells.

P.S. If you dream of owning an Aston Martin DB6 Vantage, you’ll be interested to learn that the superb black car featured in these photos – a Bob Slack restoration – is for sale!