1963 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible
Aston Martin’s DB5 is the epitome of British elegance and class and with multiple appearances in the James Bond franchise, has been heralded over the years as one of the world’s most famous cars. While maybe not all passersby will be able to tell you what it is when looking at the DB5, mostly everyone knows that shape. The fact that there was also an open-top version may not, however, be common knowledge but, with or without a roof, the DB5 is a show-stopper any day of the week.
Powered by 4.0-liter version of Tadek Marek’s DOHC inline-six, the DB5 was an evolutionary step than a revolutionary one when compared to the DB4 it replaced. In fact, the styling was nigh on identical to that of a Series 5 DB4 and it was the increase in the engine’s capacity that stood out as key differentiator between the two models. But a deal to supply Sean Connery’s Bond with a Silver Birch DB5 in the movie ’Goldfinger’ changed everything for David Brown’s company.
The model became a success with over 1,000 units sold in just two years and movie stars fawned over the gorgeous lines penned by Touring. Actors Peter Sellers and Beryl Reid were just some who owned DB5s in the ’60s and even Princess Margaret rolled in one for a while. Indeed, you probably needed the funds usually linked to an heir of the crown given that the DB5 Convertible cost as much as a house at the time but can you really put a price on driving a car Bond pedalled on-screen?
1953 Aston Martin DB3S Works
The Aston Martin DB3S is a special car although it may have been overshadowed as years came and went by a certain finned Jaguar and the DBR1/300 that won at La Sarthe for David Brown’s marque. However, its status as a bit of a giant killer and the fact that the boys in Feltham kept using it for four seasons in international competitions puts the DB3S in a unique spot in Jaguar’s racing history. This car, chassis #2, is one of only 11 works cars ever built and it won the Goodwood Nine Hours ahead of the D-Type and Ferrari’s 750 Monza. It is, then, no wonder that RM/Sotheby’s hoped it would sell for anywhere between $8.75 and $10 million when it crossed the block last Thursday during the Monterey Car Week. Well, it didn’t but you can’t deny this is one rare, gorgeous, and expensive product of the ’50s. Need further proof? A copy of the definitive book on this car sold 14 years ago for some $1,500.
When you talk ’50s sports cars, your mind slaloms between William Haynes’ C-Type and D-Type, together amassing five overall 24 Hours of Le Mans wins, the classic 250 Testa Rossa, the dominant but also infamous 300 SLR, and also the Lister Knobbly and Maserati’s 300S. Aston Martin isn’t among the names on the tip of your tongue despite it racking up quite an impressive number of wins between 1953 and 1959 with the DB3S and the DBR1 respectively. That’s because the Aston Martins were always seen as underdogs, always seen as members of the pack, those that’ll play second fiddle to the big fish when, in fact, it wasn’t like that at all. David Brown employed some of the best engineers and drivers at the time and his cars were some of the best. Yes, most often down on power, yes, most often with an Achilles’ heel (cough, the DBR1’s gearbox and ergonomics) but they were good cars. And now we’ll talk about the first one of those, the DB3S, offspring of the DB3 and a car that’s getting a bad rep for being actually friendly on the road.
Like many British carmakers, Aston Martin came to life as a race car builder. The Brits built their first vehicles in 1922, which went on to set world speed and endurance records at the Brooklands track, and later focused on road-going sports cars and grand tourers. Struck by financial problems in the 1930s, Aston Martin shifted production to aircraft components during World War II. In 1947, tractor manufacturer David Brown Limited bought both Aston Martin and Lagonda bringing them under the same roof.
The David Brown era, which lasted until early 1972, was one of the most successful in Aston Martin history — leading to the creation of the legendary DB series, which still exists through the DB9 and its upcoming successor. However, the road-going DBs weren’t Sir David Brown’s only achievements as managing director of Aston Martin. The entrepreneur also brought the British brand back to the race track by launching the DBR series in the early 1950s. More importantly, Brown approved the development of Aston Martin’s only outright Le Mans winner to date.
The car in question is the DBR1, which went on to win the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans, against stiff competition from V-12 powered Ferraris and with none other than Carroll Shelby behind the wheel.
Continue reading to learn more about the Aston Martin DBR1.
The the world of classic Aston Martins, the DB4 and DB5 command much higher prices than the models that came immediately before and after them. But, there is one variant of these that stands high above the rest, making it what is generally considered to be the most desirable and most expensive of all classic Aston Martins. That car is the DB4 GT Zagato, a factory race car built to challenge the dominance of the Ferrari 250 GT cars in sports car racing. Debuting in 1960, the DB4 GT Zagato wasn’t a sales success, even with the very modest goals set by Aston Martin, but today that just makes it more valuable.
The car was built using the very best of Aston Martin’s racing technology, and then it was lightened and made even more shapely by Zagato. Unfortunately, this combination didn’t win quite as many races as Aston would have liked, but it did make for an absolutely beautiful car — even in the context of the gorgeous cars being produced by Zagato during the ’60s. It might not have the association with James Bond that the DB5 has, but for serious car collectors, the DB4 GT Zagato is as good as classic Astons get.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT By Zagato.
It was in 1947 that David Brown purchased Aston Martin. The first car made under his ownership was the 2-Liter Sports, sometimes called the DB1, although this wasn’t the official name. But the four-cylinder engine in the car wasn’t as powerful has Brown would have liked, so he bought Lagonda as well, another sports car maker that had a more powerful inline-six engine, and he then set about combining Aston’s chassis engineering with the newly acquired Lagonda engine. The result was the DB2, also the first Aston Martin model to be offered as a Vantage, which at the time was a designation for race-ready cars.
The DB2 was more sports car than the grand tourer DB models that followed, but even in Vantage form, it was a comfortable car with a full interior. Pre-production versions were raced at Le Mans and Spa in 1949, two with the old 2-liter engine and one with the Lagonda engine. After Spa, it was clear that the inline-six was the better choice for the new car, and the decision to use it in the production car the following year was finalized. This was the origin point for what would become one of the most desirable lines of GT cars ever made.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage.
The Aston Martin DB4 was launched in 1958 as a replacement for the DB Mark III (not to be confused with the DB3 race car), and built until 1963 in various body styles and engine specifications. Offered as a 2+2 coupe, two-seat coupe, and 2+2 convertible, the DB4 was produced in no fewer than five variants, named Series I (one) to V (five). Modifications for each Series model usually included revised front grilles and new headlamps and taillights, but Aston Martin also meddled with the DB4’s body, offering longer versions for increased legroom and luggage space.
One such model is the DB4 Series V, which had its wheelbase increased by 3.5 inches over the Series IV in order for the DB4 to become a grand tourer suited for longer trips. The DB4 Series V was built between September 1962 and June 1963, marking the end of the nameplate, replaced by the more iconic 1963 - 1967 Aston Martin DB5.
Produced in only 168 units (including 32 convertibles) of the total 1,210-unit run, the DB4 Series V Vantage is one of the rarest DB4s ever built, second to only the 1963 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, a lighter, Zagato-bodied version. Making this particular coupe that much special is its Vantage specification, which means an uprated engine, and the more aerodynamic front fascia, later carried over to the DB5.
Continue reading for my full review of this special DB4.
Several high-end automakers have recently come to realize that it’s good for the brand to have the older cars they’ve made in good condition and selling for insane amounts of money. The high prices commanded by Ferrari 250s are arguably better for sales than all of that money that they dump into Formula 1 racing. So just as Ferrari has Ferrari Classiche, a division of the company devoted to restoration and maintenance of classic Ferraris, Aston Martin now has Aston Martin Heritage. And this division has rolled out a special program just for the DB4, the grand tourer built from 1958 to 1963.
The program is extensive, and Aston Martin certificates of authenticity will definitely help give the cars a boost in value. And with a car like the DB4, a good restoration can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars difference in the price it gets when sold. Because although the DB5 might be more famous, the DB4 was was a bigger leap forward for the company, and since the cars are equally rare, they tend to sell for equally huge amounts of money.
Continue reading to learn more about the Aston Martin DB4.
Aston Martin is not a company that is typically known for its prewar cars. It enjoyed some motorsports success, but nothing like that of Alfa Romeo or Bugatti, and neither could it match the engineering prowess and niche-defining luxury of Cadillac. But that’s exactly what makes cars like this 1937 15/98 Long Chassis Tourer such a good bargain; you aren’t paying millions of extra dollars just for the badge. The company was beset by financial problems (surprise!) before WWII, and it was in 1935 that a new range of cars with a broader consumer appeal debuted.
Though this 15/98 was part of the new consumer push and Aston Martin’s first luxury four-seat car, only 24 units were produced before the outbreak of WWII. The car is actually closely related to a slightly earlier racing model, and like a lot of these kinds of prewar cars, has been used both as a road car and a race car. It sat in storage for several decades after that, before eventually being purchased and restored by the current owner, and it is now going up for auction by Silverstone Auctions.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1937 Aston Martin 15/98 2L Long Chassis Tourer.
There was a well-established manufacturer half a decade before Aston Martin known as Lagonda. With some early success, Lagonda became quite famous in its time till the consequences of World War II caused major struggle to the manufacturer. In 1947, Aston Martin took possession of Lagonda and reserved the name of limited number, ultra-luxurious sedans.
Aston Martin resurrected the hibernating Lagonda name in 1974 at London Motor Show by announcing the “Aston Martin Lagonda V8”, of which only seven units were made. The new model revived name received a humdrum response from the market and Aston Martin went back to drawing board with William Tomas. In 1976, Aston Martin lifted the curtains from a striking new concept model which surged the popularity of the Lagonda brand in quick succession. Its redesigned Lagonda received a wild response and orders piled in. With demands breaking through the roof and production rate limited to only one per week, Aston Martin rolled out the first production model in 1979 and three years later, the car finally got cleared for sale in USA.
To make the exceptional design possible Aston Martin’s engineer pushed the V-8 engine as far back as possible and even then more room was required to make the mechanism work. The engineers hatched a new intake system to compensate the space, which restricted the engine output. Tackling the issue, Aston Martin installed larger intake valves after mending the engine’s cylinder walls to meet the expected power delivery.
Aston Martin launched the Lagonda Series 3 in 1986 at New York Motor Show and the Series 4 was unveiled in all-new form in 1986.
Images via Flickr.
Click past the jump to read more about the 1976-1989 Aston Martin Lagonda.
The Aston Martin DB5 is a global phenomenon often referred to as ‘the most famous car in the world’ thanks to its longtime heritage over 50 years of James Bond films. The car itself retook center stage a few times in the films since originally starring in Goldfinger and From Russia With Love, most recently with Skyfall’s Daniel Craig wheeling it out of secret storage before a midnight dash to his childhood orphanage in Scotland.
RM Auctions 2012 sale of this Sierra Blue example also includes a big name attached: Sir Paul McCartney, who rewarded himself with his first Aston Martin just a few weeks after The Beatles breakout appearance on U.S. television via The Ed Sullivan Show.
As special as the DB5’s numerous celeb owners and movie credits are, the coverage can be exhausting sometimes because the same tired facts are reshuffled. In this full review of the DB5, the focus is the merits of the car itself versus its contemporaries like the E-type Jaguar, Lamborghini 350 GT and Ferrari 250 GTO.
The DB5 was also created in a fashionable convertible body-style and as a one-off shooting brake for company lead David Brown, but the two-door hardtops are the most recognizable and affordable examples of 1963’s most advanced car.
Click past the jump for the full review of this cherished dream car.
Launched in 1951, the DB3 was never the successful race car Aston Martin hoped it would be. It was powered by a Lagonda straight-6 engine with 133 HP, which only proved to be very unsuccessful, but that was partly rectified in 1952 when Aston Martin replaced the 2.6 liter engine with a larger one: a 2.9 liter with 153 HP. These changes didn’t drastically improve the DB3, but it improved by placing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at Silverstone in May 1952 and was then forced out of Le Mans.
After that, Aston Martin had to take some serious measures to save the failing race car. They asked designer A.G. Watson for some assistance and the following year - in 1953 - the company came up with a new prototype in Charterhill, UK. This new version was called the DB3S and featured a lighter chassis with a reduced wheelbase and a few other modifications that helped it be more successful on the race track.
The new DBS3 stayed in production until 1956 during which Aston Martin produced a total of 31 units: 11 work cars - that have never been raced - and 20 cars being sold for customer use.
Hit the jump to read more about the Aston Martin DB3S.
Icon has recently received a fair amount of press due to its legal issues with Mattel, but they are also still hot on the path of building awesome custom cars. On deck for Icon is a car that is a little bit out of their norm, which is building bad-ass off-road machines. It is a modernized version of the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Volante.
The project appears to be still in its concept phase, so all of the details are a little scarce and we have reached out to Icon for additional information. For now, we do know that this model will boast a strikingly similar body as the 1960s Aston Martin legend, but in true Icon fashion there will be loads of customization. First on the list of customizations will be to hack off the DB4’s annoying fixed head, and the signature Zagatto dual humps, but leaving the humps on the rear of the car, which you can see in the above image.
The next Iconization will be replacing the 3.7-liter in-line six-cylinder engine that the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato originally featured and replacing it with a modern day V-12 engine from an Aston Martin V12 Vantage. Given Icon has a shoehorn large enough to cram this 6.0-liter V-12 power plant into the DB4’s engine compartment, it will give this classic ride somewhere in the range of 510 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to give any car nut that warm and fuzzy feeling.
To make sure that this reborn DB4 GT Zagato stays as true to original form as possible, Icon is working closely with Ercole Spada, who just so happened to be the original designer for the Zagato coupe. How’s that for dedication to your craft?
We are still awaiting confirmation of these reports and actual specs from Icon, and we’ll update you and this review as soon as we receive additional information.
In 1965, the Aston Martin DB5 was on its way out of showrooms and the new DB6 was being shown off at the London Motor Show. Between these two events lies the shortest-lasting production model convertible ever produced by Aston: the 1966 Aston Martin Volante.
The Volante was based off of the 37 remaining unused 1965 DB5s, but donned the more luxurious amenities of the DB6. When this model debuted, it was nicknamed the “Short Chassis” in an effort to help distinguish it from the longer DB6. As a result of the name, many people mistook that as meaning it was actually a shortened version of the DB5, which it is not.
Despite its awesome performance for the era, sharp looks, and popularity, the Volante was only an interim car. It was used just to bridge the gap between the time that the DB5 left and the DB6 hit showrooms. This means that production ceased as soon as the 37 unused DB5 chassis were converted.
Coming across a rare Aston Martin like this happens just about as often as you have a chance of seeing a Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster. Okay, maybe it’s a little more likely than seeing those, but you get our point. Well, get your wallet and passport ready, as RM Auctions is just about to auction off one of the 37 1966 Aston Martin ’Short Chassis’ Volante units on May 12th, 2012 in Monaco.
So how does this classic Brit motorcar look, feel, and drive?
Click past the jump to read our review and find out.
The Aston Martin DB2/4 Cabriolet is one of the most exclusive models Aston Martin has ever built. Out of the 565 units built between October 1953 and October 1955, only 12 were built in rolling chassis form for independent coachbuilders. If that isn’t exclusive enough, only eight of those 12 units were sent over to Carrozzoria Bertone where the Italian luxury coachbuilder smoothed on the body. The vehicle seen in this image is the fifth (Chassis number LML506) of the original eight and will be auctioned off at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on July 1, 2011.
Its original owner was high society elite, Edith C. Field, who succeeded in winning third place at the 1955 Pebble Beach Concours. Since the mid 1950s, this particular Aston Martin has been through the hands of four owners, including its current owner. As of late, the Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe has been fully restored to its Concours state with over £200,000 - or $288,000 at the current rates - invested in its complete restoration. Bonhams expects the ultra exclusive sports car to sell for £500,000 - 700,000, or $721,000 - $1,000,000 at the current rates.
UPDATE 07/06/2011: The 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe actually sold for £606,500 ($975,000).
Hit the jump for full details on the 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe.
The Aston Martin DB6 was a sports car manufactured by Aston Martin from 1965 to 1970. The car had improved aeroydynamics and specification over its predecessor, the DB5.
One major change from the DB5 to the DB6 was the abandonment of the superleggera construction technique for the more common body-on-frame. Triple SU carbs produced 282 hp (210 kW). A Mark II car shared many parts with the then-new DBS.