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Aston celebrates 60 years of the DB5. Image by Aston Martin.

Aston celebrates 60 years of the DB5
Most famous car in the world hits six decades.
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What are we celebrating?

Well, we're celebrating something pretty big. Living up to the mantle of 'The Most Famous Car In The World' takes some doing, but the Aston Martin DB5 seems to do so with ease. The successor to the achingly pretty DB4, and the second Aston Martin model to have bodywork designed by Touring of Milan, the DB5 might just have become yet another well-considered, but not necessarily famous, 1960s GT car. But then Hollywood came calling...

Hollywood? You mean Ja...

Hang on. We'll come back to that in a minute, but first let's hear from Aston Martin's Executive Chairman, Lawrence Stroll - himself a DB5 owner: "The David Brown era gave us so many great Aston Martin sports cars but none more recognisable, revered and desired as the DB5, which laid the foundations of our identity as a British luxury brand synonymous with style, performance, and exclusivity.

"It is only right that, as it turns 60, we take a moment to look back and reflect on this car's incredible role in our storied 110-year heritage. We're incredibly proud that the DB lineage continues today with the critically acclaimed DB12, which like those came before it, is a celebration of all we love about British hand built sportscars, with a new injection of the latest technology and highest levels of performance."

When was the DB5 created?

The DB5 made its global debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September 1963, and like the DB4 that preceded it, it wore a curvaceous suit of aluminium over a light spaceframe chassis. While it looked rather similar to the later DB4 GT models with their faired-in headlamps, the DB5 was a little more muscular, and had a touch more power from its famed 4.0-litre straight-six engine, designed by Polish engine-making genius Tadek Marek.

Compared to the 3.7-litre DB4, the new DB5 was packing as much as 240hp in standard from. Later 'Vantage' versions were reputed to hit 325hp, but many people doubt that figure was ever truly realised in period. Nonetheless, it was proclaimed as a genuine 150mph car in its day, and that engine is eminently tuneable - restomod versions have been said to hit 500hp...

Tell me about the famous owner

Unsurprisingly, given its price tag and its exclusivity - only 887 'saloons' as Aston called them, would be built, with a further 123 convertibles and 12 bespoke coach-built shooting brake estates - the DB5 became a celebrity favourite. Famous owners included The Beatles' Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger. Master comedian Peter Sellers also acquired the model, while a plethora of notable names in the years since - from Robert Plant and Jay Kay to Elle McPherson and Ralph Lauren have all driven DB5s.

There's someone still lurking on the edges of all this...

Indeed - there's one celebrity owner above all who made the DB5 not just well-known, not just desirable, but turned it into The Most Famous Car In The World. Even though Ian Fleming specified an Aston Martin DB MkIII in the novel of Goldfinger (whose only 'gadget' was a quick-release pistol holster under the front seat and 'some hiding places that would foil any customs agent'), for the 1964 film version, Eon Productions secured a DB5 for James Bond. Portrayed on screen by Sean Connery, Bond would drive the DB5 - fitted with machine guns, bullet-proof glass, tyre shredders, oil slick, smoke screen and of course the famous ejector seat ("Ejector seat? You're joking...") - into the history books.

Didn't they bring back the DB5 later?

Oh yes. So iconic did the DB5 become, so inseparable from the character of James Bond, that in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig have driven DB5s on screen as Bond, although latterly the stunt cars have actually been E46 BMW M3s fitted with lookalike DB5 bodies - something that surely Aston Martin should start making and selling?

Could I buy one for myself?

Well, you could try... The DB5 lasted in production for only two years, before being replaced by the larger, longer, roomier DB6 with its distinctive Kamm-tail look, but it created a legend that Aston is still trying, at times, to live up to. Values once plummeted - in the mid-1990s, you could have bought a decent, road-worthy DB5 for as little as £30,000 - but now the cars command six figure sums, and large six figure sums at that.

To kick off the celebrations, Aston Martin put a classic DB5 together with its new DB12 V8 at the recent Goodwood Revival Festival, and doubtless many more tributes are yet to come. The best tribute of all? Possibly that, 60 years on, it's still the ultimate spy car.



Neil Briscoe - 13 Sep 2023


Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.

Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin celebrates 60 years of DB models. Image by Aston Martin.









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