Me & My Car

I bought my first Aston Martin four years ago and was hooked. Despite it spending plenty of time in the workshop, with my DB9 I am in the presence of greatness, says Keith Dearling

I made my first mistake four years ago when I bought my first Aston Martin. I’m now on my third and it’s an expensive addiction. When I first started looking at Astons, everyone tried to put me off. They said: “It’s unreliable and it will spend all its time in the workshop.” Four years on, all I can say is they were not wrong.

Two years ago I took delivery of the DB9. It was a proud day. After two signatures the keys were in my hands and as I was driving off I turned on the state-of-the-art stereo system to be greeted with silence. The next day it was back on the trailer. Two days in the workshop and the stereo was working – well nearly. FM was fine but AM didn’t work. The dealer said an audio software upgrade was needed and this would be ready in six months.

In its second week I parked in a shopping centre car park. When I returned , I pushed the drive button (DB9s don’t have a traditional gearbox) in the middle of the central console – which promptly disappeared inside never to be seen again. So the Aston was back on the trailer to the workshop.

Then there was a constant rattle from the dashboard to deal with. Four visits to the workshop, eight days, four more low-loader drives and the rattle was fixed.

Contrary to popular belief, Aston Martins are pretty economical to drive and not the gas guzzlers they were known to be years ago. This was a relief when I was sitting at a petrol station with cars queuing behind me and I pressed the electronic button to open the petrol cap and nothing happened. I got back in the car with embarrassment and drove off.

So why am I addicted to Aston Martins? You only have to listen to Jeremy Clarkson to understand. “Few cars feel right from the moment they move. I knew I was in the presence of greatness,” he says.

“You often don’t need to be on the limit to spot it, and in the DB9 the way the steering felt, the control of the suspension and the smoothness of the engine were enough to get my heart racing. This Aston felt like it was going to deliver. And it did.”

But I still enjoy driving my Mini convertible to work.

Little Deed
When you start sifting through the options for a company brand you quickly realise that the message you want to convey in one or two words is incredibly complex.

So after what seemed like a lifetime of brainstorming we found ourselves with a short list of potential contenders. Among these was Harbour. It ticked all the boxes as far as conveying one of our core messages of providing a safe haven for borrowers with specialist requirements.

But the box it didn’t tick was being able to engender a sense of being contemporary, different from the pack and a breath of fresh air in the specialist market. The name Harbour didn’t do those principles justice. We also discounted any proposed brand containing a place name. Our short list was getting shorter.

The breakthrough came when one of the Bear Stearns set-up team casually threw Rooftop into the ring as a suggestion. It got a unanimous thumbs up.

“When I first heard the name Rooftop it struck a chord,” says Alison Beech, sales and marketing director. “It reminded me of what someone I admire in the industry once said to me, which was that people don’t want to buy a mortgage, they want to buy a home – or refinance their home. The simple word Rooftop conveys a sense of home and also the idea of fresh thinking. It was a eureka moment for us.”

First And Last
Eddie Goldsmith, senior partner, Goldsmith Williams

My first mortgage was with Midshires in 1980. I was working in a sleepy suburb of Liverpool and made it my business to know all the bank and building society managers in the area – that’s the way you got business in those days.

My mortgage was for 12,500 on a semi near Sefton Park which cost 14,000. My father gave me the deposit as I was earning 15 per week at the time.

Next up was a beautiful Georgian semi in Mossley Hill which we bought for a knock-down price as it hadn’t been lived in for a number of years. The mortgage was substantially more but we made a good profit on the sale – enough to buy our present house in Cressington Park, a Victorian oasis in the heart of south Liverpool.

My last mortgage looks like being on a property in Tuscany, where I intend to spend my dotage reading Mortgage Strategy.