The Aston Martin DB5 is a British luxury grand tourer, arguably considered by many as the most beautiful car in the world, and not just because of its smooth lines. Catapulted into stardom by being driven by the equally smooth, sophisticated British Secret Service agent 007 James Bond, it soon became the most famous Aston Martin in the world.
People tend to think of the Aston Martin DB5 as a sports car, but in reality it is a true GT because it combines the performance and the handling of a sports car with all the luxuries of a well-equipped saloon.
Made by Aston Martin at the Newport Pagnell factory in Buckinghamshire and designed by the Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring, the DB5 was released in 1963 as an evolution of the final series of DB4, and went on to be the starting point of many more Aston Martin design evolutions.
In total, 1,023 DB5s were produced between July 1963 and September 1965 and including in that figure were 123 stylish convertibles, with increased engine power output from the 3.7 litre of the DB4 to the four litre triple SU Carburettor engine.
Touring's Superleggera (super light) body construction, which employed a lightweight tubular structure to support the aluminum-alloy body panels, was deemed incompatible with the DB2/4-type multi-tubular space frame, so engineer Harold Beach drew up an immensely strong platform-type chassis.
Independent front suspension was retained, the DB2/4's trailing links giving way to unequal-length wishbones, while at the rear the DB4 sported a live axle located by a Watts linkage instead of its predecessor's Panhard rod.
Five series were built as the model gradually metamorphosed into the DB5. The latter's distinctive cowled headlamps had first appeared on the DB4GT and the newcomer was the same size as the lengthened Series V DB4. The DB5's 3,995cc engine, first seen in the Lagonda Rapide, produced 282bhp and was mated to a four-speed, overdrive-equipped gearbox, with a 'proper' ZF five-speed unit being standardised later.
Other improvements included alternator electrics, Girling disc brakes instead of Dunlops, Sundym glass, electric windows and an oil pressure gauge as standard equipment.
The DB5 was also offered in convertible form (the 'Volante' name would not be applied to the soft-top Aston until the DB6's arrival) while independent coachbuilder Harold Radford offered a shooting brake conversion.
The price of a standard DB5 in 1963 was £4,175 including tax and raising to £4,412 including tax in 1965.
The convertible was priced at £4,490 in 1963 and £4,726 in 1965, so a great investment when looking at today’s values.
Today we see prices in the region of £700,000 to £800,000 for the saloon and well over £1,000,000 for the convertible model.
Many famous names such as Paul McCartney, Peter Sellers and J.P Belmondo, as well as royalty, have owned or been linked to the DB5 model.
It is believed that half the world’s population would recognize a James Bond Aston Martin DB5 painted in the Silver Birch finish, but it was
Eon Productions’ second choice after Jaguar refused to supply a car for the filming of the Bond film! Would James Bond be the same in an E-Type Jaguar?
At the end of the DB5 production in September 1965, 37 chassis were left, so these were used to manufacture the DB6 Short Chassis Volante, the first time the Volante name was used by Aston Martin to describe a open top car (and it is still used today).
The Short Chassis Volante was a DB5, in principle, under the skin, but a DB6 in appearance and with no DB badge anywhere, just the ‘Volante’ on the boot lid.
The whole experience of driving an Aston Martin DB5 Convertible is one of pure extreme pleasure as long as you do not worry about pushing such a valuable car to its real, sensible limits. It is a car that draws smiles as it drives past, with bigger grins if one is lucky enough to be behind the wheel: it is just like sitting in a sun lounger somewhere on the Mediterranean coast.
The DB5 is not a car one would want to drive hard or corner at great speeds; it’s not a car to use to compete with the young boy racer, to be first away from the traffic lights. It’s sheer pleasure, a breath of fresh air, a ride on a magic carpet.
The one person who knows this all too well was the late Chairman and owner of Auto Performance Paris Mr. Alain Aziza, who owned a beautiful Aston Martin DB5 convertible, which has always been his childhood dream car.
Alain had always wanted to own a DB5 Convertible and when he had a very rare chance to purchase one he did not have to consider it for long, he simply went ahead and bought it. However, it was not ready to drive and was in need of a good refurbishment, so the car was taken to his Bordeaux workshop where it was fully inspected by Auto Performance principal classic car workshop manager Bob Slack.
“I have an original unrestored DB5, and a restored DB5 convertible, and neither were bought as an investment.”
The car was put back to its former glory with a number of improvements to enhance ownership and drivability, without taking away its purity or removing any of its original features.
Most of the restoration was carried out focusing on the body itself, and the main structure beneath it.
After two long years dreaming of getting behind the wheel, the car is now finished and Mr Aziza has finally fulfilled his dream, proclaiming that “the drive is way better than I ever expected.“
When asked whether he felt like “a British secret agent”, the answer was a decisive “no, not at all, I feel like the luckiest man in the world. This is one very special motor car and a car I never thought I would own, but now that I do, I am going to drive it every occasion I possibly can.”
Alain continued, “It is evident that Aston Martin has benefited considerably from its long racing experience, because the car remains perfectly controllable at high speeds, I just love it. There is a slight tendency towards under-steer, a desirable
condition in such a fast car and the steering remains comparatively heavy even when using the car’s full potential.”
“I couldn’t do all of this with the original car, but I can enjoy the way this one performs, stops and handles in a more modern way. Neither was bought as an investment, I have the DB5 Convertible simply because I love it!”
Alain was a dear friend and a great ambassador for the Aston Martin brand.