Probably no other car
in cinematic history left quite as much an impression upon car lovers than
the sterling-silver metallic Aston-Martin DB-5 coupe piloted by Sean
Connery in the James Bond spy-flick, “Goldfinger”. Brand new to
the market at the time, its superb finish, aerodynamically sweeping
looks and high performance made for the ultimate British GT coupe.
Bond’s car, of
course, was treated to a few extras by master spy-gizmo producer “Q”
that couldn’t be ordered from any dealership. Some of 007s
special equipment, necessitated by the nature of his trade, included
rotating multiple license plates, retractable rear-window bullet
shield, and the always handy pop-out machine guns stored behind the
parking lights. Extending knock-off spinners designed to shred
the tires of those getting too close for comfort and a combination oil
sprayer and smoke screen to confuse pursuing assassins also helped
keep enemies of the British Empire at bay. Perhaps the most
famous "option" of all is the passenger-side ejection seat.
attention that this car generated by the DB5 on the big screen,
production remained in the “exclusive” category. With a
real-life price in the United States hovering around $12,800 in early
1964, this was among the most expensive cars available, comparable to
Rolls-Royce, Ferrari and big Mercedes-Benz limos. This was well above
the budget of most car buyers. However, the same appeal that car had
forty years ago lives today in the collector car market, and if you
can afford one of these stunners, you will not be disappointed.
With a heritage
dating back to the early days of British motoring, the marque’s name
is derived from a combination of an investor’s last name, Lionel
Martin, with that of a then-famous event, the Aston Clinton hill
climb. After its founding, a succession of owners prior to WWII
kept the Aston-Martin nameplate alive, but production was very
industrialist David Brown brought the marque back to life. Mr.
Brown had made his fortune providing gears and tractors to the
British. He also purchased the languishing Lagonda
company at the same time, which happened to own a rather impressive
dual overhead cam in-line six-cylinder engine.
Brown’s goals were
two-fold: build a limited number of revenue generating road cars,
and produce a winning line of racing vehicles. Using his
initials, DB, a new series of bodies and models were born, and the
legend of Aston-Martin began to grow. Success on the track
soon became a regular event for A-M, culminated by the spectacular
win of Le Mans when the team of Roy Salvadori and a former American
chicken farmer named Carroll Shelby took best overall in 1959.
This helped the firm win the World Manufacturer’s Championship that
A succession of DB
road models began in the early 1950s, featuring stylish coachwork
and modern and distinctive styling. The early 1960s saw the birth of
the popular DB-4 series. It was powered by the venerable DOHC six in
3670cc form, and generated 240hp at 5,500 rpm. Impressive
numbers for a little road car.
But it was in 1963
that the car James Bond would make famous was unveiled. Offered in
both fastback coupe and drop-head coupe versions, the DB5 rode on a
98" wheelbase and measured 180" from bumper to bumper. Under the hood
a displacement bump took the six to 3995cc, which boosted horsepower
to 282 at 5,500 rpm.
Up front a
traditional “ox-bow” inspired front grille design adorned the
hand-built custom bodies designed by the famous Italian coachwork
company Carrozerria Touring.
A high performance
model was unveiled in the fall of 1964, equipped with the Vantage
engine option. Output from this formidable engine went to 325
horses, and everyone knew that this was a force to be reckoned with.
Even Ferrari took careful notice. Shifting the DB-5 was left to
one of four transmission choices, a standard four-speed manual,
four-speed with overdrive, a ZF provided manual five-speed, or a
General Motors provided automatic. Later in production, the
five-speed became standard with 5th gear acting as an overdrive, while
the automatic was still available as an option.
A total of 1,021
Aston-Martin DB-5s were produced between 1963 and 1965, 886 coupes,
123 convertibles (“Volante”), and 9 Radford “shooting brakes”, better
known here as station wagons. It is estimated that only about 65
of these cars were equipped with the Vantage engine, but none were
more famous or sought after than chassis no. DP/216/1, the one
assigned to James Bond.
Building on the
success of the DB5, Aston-Martin released the next generation version
in the fall of 1965 as the DB6 series. Riding on a 3.75" longer
wheelbase, the new model was a little more plush and a bit less
sporty. Included as part of the basic package were chrome wire
wheels, AM radio, and air-conditioning. The base engine for the
DB6 remained unchanged from the previous models. The extra-cost
Vantage engine option was still available. The longer wheelbase
translated to a stretch in overall dimensions to 182", with the extra
space given to the back seats passengers.
Production of the
original DB6 continued to mid-1969 when the Mark II was introduced
which featured wider tires and flared wheel-arches to accommodate
them. This model remained in production until late 1970 when the even
larger DBS went into production. Prices ranged from $15,400 to $17,100
during the DB6's production run. A total of 1,321 coupes, 140 Vantage
convertibles and six “Radford” shooting brakes were produced. All of
the station wagon models were produced for the home market and
featured the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car, perfect
for fetching the dogs after a fox hunt.
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P. Skinner and the editors at Collector Car
Aston-Martin page 2