A high-powered sendoff for Aston’s most popular model

Produced for a decade straight, the Aston Martin DB7 is easily one of the British marque’s most recognizable products. Chalk it up to the car’s huge popularity, with roughly 7,000 units rolling off the line before it was replaced in 2004. But prior to its burial, Aston gave the DB7 one last hurrah in the form of the more powerful, more aggressive, and altogether more desirable GT variant. Extra ponies under the hood and crisper handling in the corners make the DB7 GT the one to get, but only a few hundred were ever built, and just a handful were sent stateside.

Still, if you can find one in good working order, the DB7 GT is capable of delivering 12-cylinder thrills for a surprisingly affordable price tag. This thing is unadulterated Aston Martin GT goodness, packed to the brim with style and character. Read on for the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2002 – 2003 Aston Martin DB7 GT.

  • 2002 - 2003 Aston-Martin DB7 GT
  • Year:
    2002- 2003
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Transmission:
    6-Speed Manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    435@6000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    5000
  • Displacement:
    5935 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    185 mph
  • Price:
    167,000

History And Background

After debuting at the Geneva Motor Show in 1993, the DB7 was put into production in 1994. Designed to be a high-class, six-figure grand tourer, Aston first introduced the DB7 as a two-door coupe. Under the hood was equipped a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine, which was supercharged 335 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque.

Tasked with making the technical bits was Tom Walkinshaw Racing, an engineering firm and race team based out Kidlington, Oxfordshire, in the U.K. The DB7’s engine was put together in Kidlington, while the rest of the car was pieced together at a factory in Bloxham, Oxfordshire – the very same factory where Jaguar constructed its XJ220 supercar.

Following the coupe, Aston debuted a convertible Volante variant at the Detroit Auto Show in 1996.

In 1999, the DB7 line received the more powerful V12 Vantage variant, which dropped cover at the Geneva Motor Show. Replacing the six-cylinder was a 5.9-liter V-12, which upped output to 420 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The DB7 V12 Vantage was the first-ever production Aston equipped with a 12-cylinder engine, offering a top speed of 186 mph when mated to the six-speed manual transmission (a five-speed automatic was also offered). The 0-to-60 mph sprint was done in less than 5 seconds.

Finally, after listening to demands for more power from fans and enthusiasts, Aston debuted the DB7 GT at the International Birmingham Motor Show in 2002. Based on the contemporary Vantage Coupe, the GT marked the final production run for the aging DB7 platform. Aston offered two variants – the GT, which came equipped with a manual transmission, and the GTA, which came equipped with an automatic transmission. Created in less than a year, the manually equipped GT was the most powerful model that Aston had ever produced, with even more output coaxed from the front-mounted V-12, plus a selection of complementary go-faster parts needed to harness the newfound ponies.

Production of the DB7 ended in 2004, as the model was eventually replaced by the DB9. But before it went, the DB7 cemented its position as the marque’s highest-ever production volume.

Exterior

Taking responsibility for the gorgeous DB7 exterior styling are two big names from the world of British automotive design.

The original aesthetic actually started life as a Jaguar, with Keith Helfet penning the look in anticipation of the not-to-be Jag F-Type, a.k.a., the XJ41 and XJ42. Mr. Helfet would go on to design Jag’s iconic XJ220 supercar.

After Ford canceled the F-Type project (FoMoCo owned Jag and Aston at the time), it was decided the F-Type’s design was too good to throw in the trash bin. As such, it was shipped over to Ian Callum, the same hand behind the Ford RS200, Aston Martin Vanquish, Aston Martin DB9, Jaguar C-X75, and the modern Jaguar F-Type. Mr. Callum was tasked with making Helfet’s design look more like an Aston, and the result is what you see today.

Compared to previous DB7 models, the DB7 GT sports a nice array of aerodynamic and styling differences. The undertray was upgraded with new sweeps, there are new wheel arch liner extensions, and the trunk lid gains a subtle lip spoiler flourish. These changes helped the DB7 GT produce 50 percent less lift than before.

High on the long hood, you’ll also find two new vents, while the fascia gains a new wire mesh grille and unique lower intake. The rollers were replaced with new five-spoke units as standard, measuring in at 18 inches in diameter.

Even though it’s a mishmash of influences, the DB7 GT is a real looker. It’s sexy, svelte, and sleek, encapsulating everything a hardtop British sports car should be. The look is assertive, but doesn’t shout, offering lines that enhance the car’s low-slung attitude.

The oval headlights up front are complemented by large fog lights in the bumper, while the side vents keep the eye going towards a very shapely tail. The rear haunches look poised and slightly menacing, while the elongated taillights enhance the car’s visual width. Dual exhaust tips provide the 12-cylinder bark.

Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,591 mm (102 inches)
Length 4,646 mm (182.9 inches)
Width 1,830 mm (72 inches)

Interior

Inside the DB7 GT, you’ll find the usual assortment of performance-oriented gear. The two seats up front are nicely bolstered and come covered in leather upholstery, while the three-spoke steering wheel gains larger hand holds at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions. On models equipped with an automatic transmission, the steering wheel also uses two thumb-length buttons to shift, with a “+” on the right for upshifts, and a “-“ on the left for downshifts. Cars with manual transmissions received an aluminum gear lever.

The pedals are drilled aluminum, the gauge cluster includes two large dials and four smaller dials, and carbon fiber trim was offered as an available extra. There’s also a small rear seat, which is really only big enough to fit passengers in a pinch.

Design-wise, I’m not the biggest fan of the DB7 GT’s interior. Unlike the car’s slinky exterior, the cabin feels too puffy for my taste. It just gives the impression of an old look with new glaze laid on top, and doesn’t complement the sleekness seen everywhere else on the vehicle. Whereas the exterior is elegant, the interior is a bit of a try-hard.

But hey, no one’s perfect.

Drivetrain

The DB7 GT uses a front-engine, RWD layout – the proper set-up for any worthy GT entry.

Mounted longitudinally under the hood is an all-alloy 5.9-liter (5,935 cc) V-12, with double overhead cams, 48 valves, and cylinder banks angled at 60 degrees. Handling the electronics side of things is gear from Visteon.

This is the same powerplant used in the DB7 Vantage, but rather than producing 420 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, the GT ups the ante to 435 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. Peak power arrives at 6,000 rpm, while peak torque hits at 5,000 rpm. Engine redline is set at 7,000 rpm.

Routing the British muscle is a Tremec T-56 six-speed manual transmission, upgraded on the GT with a short-throw shifter and race-inspired twin-plate clutch. Alternatively, for those who enjoy controlling the shifts sans clutch pedal, Aston also offered the GTA model, which came with a five-speed “Touchtronic” automatic gearbox. However, examples equipped with the automatic were relegated to Vantage-equaling power levels of 420 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

Chassis And Handling

Take a peek at what’s lying underneath the jaw-dropping exterior, and you’ll find the same ancient underpinnings as were used on the Jaguar XJS – a car that was discontinued in 1996 after two decades in production. Although not an exact replica, the platform is similar enough to give the DB7 GT a rather ham-fisted feel when attacking an apex.

Adding to the clumsiness is a high curb weight, with steel used predominantly in construction, rather than the usual aluminum. In fact, the DB7 is the only Aston to use Jag-sourced steel construction. The whole shebang tips the scales at 1,825 kg (4,023 pounds).

However, Aston Martin did manage to polish the old-school bones as best as possible. There are double wishbones front to back, with anti-roll bars, coil springs, and monotube dampers to manage the heft. The brakes use ventilated discs from Brembo and a brake booster from the Vanquish, with the rotors measured at 355 mm (14 inches) in front, and 330 mm (13 inches) in the rear.

Finally, tires measured at 245/35R18 in front and 265/30R18 in back provide the traction and smoke.

Prices

As previously stated, the DB7 was Aston’s highest volume model ever, at roughly 7,000 units produced in 10 years. The GT and automatic GTA equivalents are just a slim percentage of that final tally, with 190 GT’s and 112 GTA’s produced, making for 302 examples total. It’s not clear how many were sent to the U.S., with some sources saying as many as 90, while others say no more than 17.

Pricing for the DB7 GT when new (2003) came to 104,500 pounds.

Now, however, you can pick one up on the used market for a figure somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 pounds ($39,803 and $79,605 at current exchange rates, 09/09/2016). That said, unless you’ve got some Aston connection across the pond, sourcing parts for basic maintenance can be a tricky proposition.

Still, for that price, you get more than 400 horsepower, 12 cylinders, and looks to kill – not a bad combo, if you ask me.

Competition

Ferrari 575M Maranello

When it was first released, the Aston Martin DB7 GT would have seen a good deal of competition from this – the Ferrari 575M Maranello. Mounted under that shapely, pointed hood is a 5.7-liter V-12 powerplant, which sends a whopping 508 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque to the rear axle by way of a six-speed manual gearbox. A six-speed automatic with F1-style electrohydraulic shifting was also available. All told, the Prancing Horse was faster and more interesting in the corners, but it was also significantly more expensive, starting at over $200,000 when new.

Read the full review here.

Maserati Coupe

The Trident badge provides a nice lower-cost alternative to the Aston and the Ferrari. It’s got four fewer cylinders and a bit less output, with a front-mounted 4.2-liter V-8 producing 385 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque at the rear axle, but the exterior is definitely worthy of comparison and cross-shopping. Both a six-speed manual and an automatic six-speed (with paddle shifting) were offered. Pricing, however, was much more reasonable, starting at a little over $80,000 when new.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

The Aston Martin DB7 GT is very much a Jeremy Clarkson sort of car. Like the former Top Gear presenter, it’s large, high-powered, and a bit clunky under the skin. Clarkson himself raves about this thing, lauding the styling as one of the most beautiful aesthetics ever created by man.

And rightfully so. The DB7 is a stunning thing to behold, especially the GT variant featured here. However, it’s not without its faults, but hey, it all comes down to perspective, right? With the right eye, you could even say the drawbacks are part of the car’s “character.”

  • Leave it
    • Ho-hum interior design
    • Positively ancient underpinnings
    • Pricey to maintain
Mike Husleag
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