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Aston Martin DB5: Buying guide and review (1963-1965)

Aston Martin DB5: Buying guide and review (1963-1965) Classic and Performance Car
Aston Martin DB5 Aston Martin DB5 Aston Martin DB5 Aston Martin DB5 Aston Martin DB5 Aston Martin DB5 Aston Martin DB5
It’s probably not possible to write about the DB5 without mentioning a certain secret agent, but if it wasn’t for James Bond the svelte Aston simply wouldn’t have the profile that it does. That wouldn’t make it any less desirable though, because here’s a car that’s beautiful, fast, carries one of the most evocative badges and sounds utterly gorgeous the faster you drive it. What’s not to like?
 
Sadly, the DB5’s rarity and collectability also mean you now need incredibly deep pockets to acquire one and because these cars are so valuable, many owners buy them as an investment rather than to use them. However, despite their huge worth, there’s not much chance of the bottom dropping out of the market; DB5 values have enjoyed a spectacular trajectory in recent years, and even if the market softens in the short term (which is unlikely), in the long term you’re always going to come out ahead. 
 
Which one to buy?
 
The DB5’s huge values are a double-edged sword, because while this is a classic that’s now nothing like as attainable as it was, it’s easy to justify a major restoration of one of these very complex machines. Because of the DB5’s complexity, if you’re buying a car that’s already been restored, make sure it comes with a full photographic record of all work done – and make sure it’s been done by a recognised marque specialist.
 
Most DB5s are sold via the major auction houses or through Aston Martin specialists, in which case you should be in good hands. But if you’re buying privately, make use of one of the many Aston experts out there and get them to do a thorough inspection of any potential purchase. In return they’ll want just a fraction of the car’s value, and it might just save you a fortune. By far the majority of DB5s were regular coupes, but there were some Vantage editions too and some dropheads. Unsurprisingly, the latter variant is especially sought after while the Vantage is valued more highly than the SU-equipped DB5. But it’s not hard to convert a DB5 to Vantage specification, so you can buy a standard car and convert it – and if you’re buying a supposedly original Vantage it’s worth establishing that it is the real deal.
 
Performance and specs 
 
Engine 3995cc, in-line 6-cylinder
Power 280bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 288lb ft @ 3850rpm
Top speed 142mph
0-60mph 8.1sec
Fuel consumption 15mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual/Three-speed auto
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2489mm
Length 4572mm
Width 1676mm
Height 1346mm
Kerb weight 1465kg
 
Common problems
 
• It’s easy to be taken in by shiny paintwork, but this can be hiding a catalogue of horrors. The DB5 features an aluminium skin stretched over a steel skeleton. It was built to a high standard though, so cherished cars should be in fine fettle. If the aluminium skin is bubbling, expect far worse underneath as the two metals will have reacted with one another. 
 
• The key areas to check are the sills, which can rot badly. If they both need a complete reconstruction expect much financial pain, If the rust has spread to the chassis, proper repairs will be hugely expensive. 
 
• Also look at the base of the bulkhead, jacking points, trailing arm mounts, bumper supports, door hinge mountings, boot floor and the double-skinned boot lid. 
 
• Although it’s realistically not all too common, crash damage is certainly something that you should look out for. More recent repairs are likely to have been carried out to a high standard, but cars repaired years ago when values were lower could be cause for concern.
 
• If the engine is treated to an oil change every 2500 miles it should just keep going, although the oil will need to be regularly topped up if the straight-six isn’t to run low. It should also have had a fresh timing chain within the last 60,000 miles. If this breaks, the engine will be destroyed. 
 
• An oil cooler having been fitted is a sign of a caring owner; if there isn’t one fitted, bank on installing one sooner rather than later. Expect oil pressure of 80-100psi when cruising; much less suggests that all is not well. 
 
• Overheating engines aren’t unusual, because of blocked up waterways around the cylinder liners – especially at the back of the engine, around the water pump. An electric fan is worthwhile, but if the waterways are clogged up, it’s just a matter of time until things get expensive. 
 
• Gearboxes – whether manual or auto – are very tough. If they’re on the verge of giving up it’ll be obvious (jerky changes on the auto, jumping out of gear on the manual). Rebuilds aren’t costly though, relative to the car’s value. 
 
• The dual-circuit braking system (with Girling discs all round) is conventionally engineered and isn’t prone to problems. The steering is also usually reliable, but worn bushes can lead to it becoming vague; they’re easily and cheaply replaced however. 
 
• The suspension bushes also wear, but of more concern is the spectre of the front suspension arms detaching because of corrosion. The same goes for the rear arms of the lower front wishbones; their sockets can corrode, leading to some interesting dynamic characteristics. 
 
• Most interiors will have undergone at least one re-trim by now, and you will usually find only the best quality leather on the seats. There isn’t much to look out for.
 
Model history
 
1963: The DB5 is introduced, taking over from the DB4. It shares much with the DB4 Series 5 Vantage, but in place of the previous 3670cc straight-six there’s a 3995cc unit. Standard carburation is a trio of SU HD8s, or there’s a triple Weber 45DCOE option in the 314bhp DB5 Vantage. There are also Girling disc brakes at each corner, carried over from the DB4 GT. 
 
1964: The third James Bond film is released, Goldfinger. The Aston Martin DB5 takes a starring role, assuring its place in the Hollywood hall of fame. 
 
1965: Harold Radford reveals its shooting brake conversion on the DB5. Meanwhile, the DB5 is superseded by the DB6. By close of production, 886 DB5 coupes have been built (including 65 with the Vantage engine) along with 123 convertibles and a dozen shooting brakes. 
 
James Bond appearances
 
Since its first appearance in Goldfinger, the Aston Martin DB5 has perhaps been the most readily associated with 007. In total, the DB5 has appeared in a total of seven James Bond movies, although only briefly in Thunderball, Tomorrow Never Dies and most recently Spectre.
 
Goldfinger saw the DB5 utilise the passenger ejector seat, while GoldenEye’s opening sequence saw the classic Aston taking part in a race down a mountain, against a Ferrari F355 Spider. Skyfall was perhaps not great viewing for fans of the car, as it was destroyed by gunfire (thankfully a replica built just for the film), although in Spectre we see a glimpse of the iconic car undergoing a Q branch restoration.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
www.amoc.org - Aston Martin Owners Club
www.amocna.org - North American Aston Martin Owners Club
www.astonmartindb5hire.com - Hire an Aston Martin DB5 for various events
www.astonmartinlife.com - Aston Martin forum
 
Summary and prices
 
There’s no denying that the DB5 is a true icon, and a fantastic driving experience, so values reflect this. As a general rule, the cheapest viable DB5 project car will cost somewhere around £300,000. It’s interesting that for many, these are the cars that offer the best value, as it allows a healthy budget for a complete restoration. Running cars in better condition, on the market for around £400,000-£500,000, will often need similar levels of money spending if the buyer wants a concours standard car. Top condition BD5 models start from around £750,000. 
 
Spec can affect the values, as genuine Vantages and cars with Vantage upgrades command a premium, while the rare automatic versions are not sought after. Convertibles are by far the most desirable of the DB5 range, and thanks to the limited production run of 123 cars, are also the most expensive. Projects (if you can find one) start from £500,000, with average cars usually falling between £750,000-£900,000. The very best command up to (and beyond) £1.2m. 
 
So, it’s a fairly big step-up from that Corgi model Aston Martin DB5 we all had growing up, but for the lucky few that have the means to drive this beautiful GT, there’s certainly a lot to be said for it! 
 
Words: Richard Dredge
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Last updated: 2nd Mar 2016
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Aston Martin DB5 cars for sale

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  • 1965 ASTON MARTIN DB5 COUPE

    POA POA

    --California Sage Green with Beige leather interior and Beige carpeting, Restored, 5-speed ZF manual gearbox, Factory air conditioning, Original left hand drive, Optional Borrani wire wheels, Matching numbers. This DB5 was delivered on December 7, 1965 to Mr. Edwin V. Perdue of Louisberg, Kansas in its current and original color combination of California Sage Green with Beige leather and carpets. It is rare original left hand drive with the added addition of its optional factory air conditioning. In 1970 it was in the ownership of James S. Hillhouse of Denver, Colorado. Purchased in 1988, this DB5 has been owned and cared for by a well-known Aston enthusiast-collector who has thoroughly enjoyed it during the past 29 years of ownership. It has always been cared for regardless of cost or use and has been the pride and joy of its past owner throughout the past twenty-six years. He has stood proudly beside it at every AMOC event, classic car event and concours. With the past couple of years, this DB5 has been treated to a cosmetic restoration by Autosport Designs, it has been taken to bare metal (all work photo documented) and thus is now in as new condition. This is a rare opportunity

    • Year: 1965
    • Mileage: 2017 mi
    For sale
    Autosport Designs Inc
    (631) 425-1555 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • 171 - 1964 Alvis TE21 Drophead Coupé by Park Ward

    POA POA

    After the Second World War, the 1919-founded Alvis Motor Company specialised in sports saloons, traditionally styled and coachbuilt, with the Grey Lady model being capable of over 100mph. In 1955 however, Graber styled, what was considered to be, a stunningly attractive two-door, pillarless coupé based upon a Grey Lady chassis which could comfortably transport four people with speeds up to 110mph. Although the Swiss firm did body several chassis from Coventry, their design was reproduced by celebrated English coachbuilders, Park Ward, who produced both fixedhead and drophead versions. With a Rolls-Royce standard of finish, the new Alvis quickly magnetised an up-market following which included Prince Philip and Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader CBE, DSO, DFC. There is little doubt that it is the exquisite coachbuilt sweeping lines and compelling motive force that have attracted clientele the world over ever since. We are delighted to offer this Alvis TE21 Drophead Coupé bodied by Park Ward that was first registered to a Mrs. J. T. Waddilove, Purley, Surrey on 12 th November 1964. The motor car was ordered direct from the 1964 Motor Show; the supplying dealer being Jack Barclay Limited

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
  • 121 - 1964 Chevrolet Corvette C2 Stingray

    POA POA

    The Corvette Stingray had grown to be America's most popular sports car since its debut in 1953 but it was time for a change for the 1963-1967 models. Even the most superlative design grows whiskers after a decade and Chevrolet chief, Bill Mitchell, and stylist, Larry Shinoda, faced a tough task; to improve a living legend. Not only did they succeed but their creation turned into a modern classic and they created the most collectible Corvette of them all, sending sales soaring to record levels. Seeds were planted by the Stingray Special racer and experimental XP-720 which displayed a smooth fastback profile and split back window. These and other styling details pivoting hidden headlights, doors cut into the roof, a swage line dip all wound up in the production Sting Ray. The four headlights aligned with the pointy front end when shut, rotating open when needed. Imported from the USA, all appropriate taxes and duty have been paid and the relevant documents can be found in the history file. It has then undergone a process of renovation including full body, drive and braking system restoration. The interior is in good original condition sporting original upholstery. The chassis was al

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
  • 209 - 1964 Austin-Healey 3000 BJ8 Phase I

    POA POA

    The Austin-Healey 3000 was built from 1959 to 1967 and is the best known of the 'big' Healey models. The car's bodywork was made by Jensen Motors and the vehicles were assembled at the BMC Abingdon works. The 3000 was a successful car which won its class in many European rallies during its heyday and also ran at Le Mans during that period. As such, it is still used in competition by enthusiasts today. The 3000 Mk. III was launched in October 1963 and remained in production until the end of 1967 when production of Austin-Healeys ceased. Classified as the BJ8, the new model was the most powerful and luxurious of the big Healeys with a walnut veneer dash, wind-up windows and a 150bhp engine. Improvements to the engine included a revised camshaft, valve springs and twin SU 2" HD8 carburettors together with a redesigned exhaust system and servo-assisted brakes. First registered on 1st May 1964 to its first and only keeper, Bernard Ringwelski of 52 Totton Road, Thornton Heath, it is believed he was a World War II veteran then a watches and clock restorer after the war. This is a UK delivered, genuine righthand drive car and one of only 1,390 phase I's built with approximately 80-90% of p

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
  • 203 - 1964 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III

    POA POA

    Launched in 1962, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III and its Bentley S3 equivalent employed the 6.2 litre aluminium-alloy V8 engine first introduced in the Silver Cloud II although with larger carburettors, new distributor and raised compression ratio. It also came with a four-speed GM derived automatic gearbox as standard equipment. Most obvious among many changes from the preceding models were the adoption of four headlamp lighting, the absence of sidelights from the wing tops and a slightly lower radiator shell. Inside, there was improved accommodation with separate front seats and increased room for rear passengers. Notable as the last mainstream Rolls-Royce to employ a separate chassis, the Silver Cloud III remained in production until superseded by the unitary-construction Silver Shadow in late 1965. The Cloud represented a supremely elegant design and is often regarded as the last true Rolls-Royce. This example has been imported from the USA to Europe and has had all appropriate taxes and duty paid; the documents for which can be found within the history file. The car itself has been restored, in particular the body, using white pearl paint, and braking system which required a

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
  • 243 - 1964 Morris Mini Cooper ‘S’ Mk. I

    POA POA

    To many, its designer Alec Issigonis included, the notion that the Mini might have a future as anything other than basic transport was anathema, and the idea of a high-performance version was laughable. One man though, saw it quite differently. Racing car manufacturer John Cooper already knew quite a bit about tuning BMC's A-Series engine - he was running the company's Formula Junior effort at the time - and a test drive in a prototype Mini convinced him of the car's competition potential. The result, launched in September 1961, was the Mini Cooper, a car that offered a size/price/performance package that was nothing short of miraculous. The Mini Cooper soon established its credentials as a rally and race winner, and the stage was set for even faster versions. The first of these - the 1,071cc Mini Cooper 'S' of 1963 - took engine development a stage further and provided the basis for the 971 'S' and 1275 'S' of 1964. The car we offer is an original example of the short-lived and rare 1,071cc Cooper S, built between April 1963 and the end of August 1964. 'YEE 522' was first built on 16th January 1964 and dispatched on the 27th January to Roland C. Bellamy Ltd of Grimsby. Still weari

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
  • 263 - 1964 Triumph TR4

    POA POA

    The Triumph TR4 was built by Standard Triumph Motor Company and introduced in 1961. Code named 'Zest' during development, the car was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the previous TR sports cars but with a modern Michelotti styled body. A total of 40,253 cars were built; the TR4 proved very successful and continued the rugged image that the previous TR's had enjoyed. The TR4 body style did away with the cutaway door design of the previous TR's to allow for wind-down windows and the angular rear allowed a boot with considerable capacity for a sports car. Advanced features included the first use of adjustable fascia ventilation in a production car and the option of a unique hard-top that consisted of a fixed glass rear window with an integral rollbar and a detachable, steel centre panel (aluminium for the first 500 units). This was the first such roof system on a production car and preceded by five years the Porsche 911/912 Targa, which has since become a generic name for this style of top. On the TR4 the rigid roof panel was replaceable with an easily folded and stowed vinyl insert and supporting frame called a 'Surrey Top'. First registered on 29th May, 1964, this charming TR

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB5 'Ogle'

    POA POA

    Mayfair 020 7125 1400 | Maldon 01621 879579 1965 Aston Martin DB5 'Ogle' Saloon to Vantage Specification RHD There can be few British sports cars that are as iconic as the Aston Martin DB5. While all variants are consistently in high demand due to their looks, performance, history and investment potential, those cars with unique historical features are particularly sought after. The example offered here is one such car having been originally used by Ogle Design Ltd as a design prototype to demonstrate to the factory how the interior of the forthcoming DB6 could look. Modifications included a completely new layout of the dashboard and glove compartment, addition of a new centre console, central opening armrest (which was hinged at the rear), chrome plated ashtray, simpler V-patterned seat design, redesigned interior door panels (with a new interior door release handle) and completely new trim panels to the rear parcel shelf. Many of these modifications were subsequently adopted on the DB6 with the seating design being one of the most noticeable features. In addition to its fascinating history this car has also recently benefited from a no expense spared 3000 hours body off restorati

    • Year: 1965
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB5

    £799,995 £799,995

    This matching numbers UK RHD DB5 is in superb condition throughout, and has benefited from extensive expenditure in recent years. It is a great driving car which has appeared at concours events and shows. Fresh from a body and chassis restoration at an Aston specialist, this lovely example is now attractively finished in Georgian Silver rather than its original colour of Platinum (white). Complete with its original logbook, a copy of the factory build sheet, a very rare original Instruction Book and a Heritage Certificate. The history file also includes extensive ownership and maintenance records, including photographs. Originally supplied in the UK, the car later spent some time in Milan where it was initially repainted red, before being reconditioned, repainted and displayed as part of a James Bond tour of Italy. In 2012 the DB5 was imported back to UK and in 2013 had a full engine rebuild and bare metal respray in Georgian Silver. Further works followed at Aston specialists and most recently the car has had extensive chassis restoration. Following this work this lovely Aston appeared at the 2013 Regent Motor Show London and the AMOC Concours at Hampton Court Palace in 2014.

    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB5

    £800,000 £800,000

    This beautiful car comes with a copy of the original purchase form. It is matching-numbers, and the only alteration in specification from new concerns the colour scheme, originally California Sage, which was changed to Silver Birch prior to the preceding owner's acquisition of the car in 1971. It has the later- DB5 spec upgraded ZF 5-speed gearbox which of course it was supplied with from new. The car was maintained by Ian Mason in the 1970's prior to being laid-up (bills on file). There is a note on file, written in 2005 by the previous owner, Peter Hammerson, which states: 'from 1977 the car was laid-up in a private garage following which it has been undergoing extensive and lengthy restoration.' The latter was carried out by Arthur Birchall & Co of Norfolk between 1987 and 2006, during which period the car benefitted from a body-off, chassis-upwards rebuild while the engine was converted to take unleaded fuel (bills on file). Between 2008 and 2010, the DB5 was looked after by Astin Martin Works. The car then resided in Norway as part of a private collection. It is a lovely example and has covered a believed-genuine 70,000 miles from new (1,000 since restoration) and is in absolutely superb condition. The car is offered with a large history file including workshop manual. It also includes an original and almost irreplaceable Instruction Handbook. The original matching-numbers engine was converted to a 4.2 litre specification in Cheshire Classic Cars' workshop using Cosworth Pistons in 2015. This is photographically recorded. A simply exceptional DB5.

    • Year: 1964
    • Mileage: 70000 mi
    For sale
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