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In the UK during the 1960's the Aston Martin DB5 was the absolute aristocrat of sports cars. It was as exclusive as a Bond Street or Savile Row suit, and the price reflected this exclusivity. For the same price as a DB5 you could buy yourself a mansion in the Surrey stockbroker belt, and its main rival, Jaguar's E-Type, was about half the price.
The Aston Martin DB5 was the fifth Aston built during David Brown's stewardship of the company. (Hence the DB initials) It wasn't a totally new car however but developed from the old and sometimes troublesome Aston Martin 3.7-liter DB4 that had been around since 1958.
Aston fitted a larger four-liter version of their original twin-camshaft six-cylinder which produced a massive 240bhp, and replaced the old gearbox with a five-speed ZF version. This improved the performance as well as the fuel economy.
Top speed was 140mph (225kph) and 150mph (241kph) could be achieved if you opted for the highly tuned (and more expensive) Vantage engine. With today's highly congested and speed-restricted motorways it's hard to believe that in the early 1960's Aston could still test drive their cars on the M1 motorway adjacent to their factory at Newport Pagnell.
The DB5 had few new technical innovations; instead Aston simply kept pace with current developments within the car industry. Disc brakes were now becoming the norm on performance cars, and Aston fitted them to the DB5. But they were still wary of the then still relatively new and untested independent rear suspension systems so instead stuck to the old solid axle from previous models. As a result the DB5 was always happier on fast main roads than being put through its paces on twisty, uneven country lanes.
The fashionable Italian-style bodywork had flared in headlights, which improved the aerodynamics. But the interior still had the feel of an exclusive British gentleman's club, with rich leather and walnut in abundance. It also had electric windows, which were still something of a rarity in 1963. A nice touch was the push-button radio, which when you first switched it on had the words "Aston Martin" emblazoned in red on the tuning dial.
So exclusive was the DB5 that David Brown, the company's Managing Director, even sanctioned the building of a dozen DB5 estate cars for his upper-crust, country mansion owning friends. These must surely rate as the most beautiful and exclusive estate cars ever built!
Aston sold over a 1,000 DB5's in the just over two years it was in production, making it one of the best selling Astons ever. Certainly it is one of the most beautiful and memorable; a sensual, sexy, slender flying machine that in some ways highlights how the latter (and much more macho) cars produced by Aston lost their way.
© KenJ May 2009
Contrary to previos posts, the DB5 is a wonderful 60's icon though is not without it's flaws I have been a mechanic for an Aston Martin specialist for 10 years The DB4, 5 and 6 are similar cars so this post applies to all The DB4 has a 3.7 litre engine running 3 SU carbs and the 5 and 6 have 4 liters using 3 carbs, SU and Weber for the Vantage versions The DB4 runs Webers for the GT version They are beautiful cars no doubt but they do not have Walnut dashes as previously described! They have fine strong engines and fantastic bodywork. It's the bits that join them that can be poor at times Step in and the classic dash sets you in fine stead for what is to come. Twist the questionable Lucas ignition switch and the engine barks into life Shove the baulky gearbox into 1st and off we go There is ample power on tap from the 4 litre engines and you are quickly propelled up the road in style Hit a corner and your nerves will be tested for sure! If the car is on it's original Cross Ply tyres it feels like you are captaining a small boat! If the car has had some suspension mods and some radial tyres fitted it is another story. The car will corner with ease and vogor. The competition in it's day didn't have a lot to worry about! Push the power and the chassis copes commendably well. Coming to a stop may be a problem if you are in a DB4 as the brakes leave a lot to be desired Get a nice car and you will have a lot of fun, but get a poorly restored car and your worst nightmare has just begun! These cars will swallow all your cash and time if you have not bought a good one! You have been warned! The boot space is very good and the interior nicely designed Aston Martins command a lot more respect than JAguars that's for sure!
The Aston Martin has remained one of the best looking cars ever made. You may be thinking of how I know about the car. Although I don't drive the car a member of my family owns a classic car company who have sold the DB5 in the past. As I have never driven the car I will not comment on the driving aspects. Most DB5's have 5 litre engine which has plenty of umphhh, and can propel the car to speeds of over 140 mph. The styling inside the car is minimal but very comfortable, with all DB5's having leather seats and walnut dashes. If you can afford the heavy price tag then this car is definately worth a look at.