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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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  • Aston Martin DB5

    POA POA

    - In single family ownership from 1964 - 2005 - Matching chassis and engine numbers, factory-fitted limited slip differential and heated rear screen - Extensively restored by renowned marque specialist Post Vintage Engineering - Refinished in its original livery of Sierra Blue with Fawn leather upholstery - Sympathetically upgraded with power assisted steering, air-conditioning and sat-nav

    • Year: 1964
    For sale
    H and H
  • 1965 ASTON MARTIN DB5 COUPE

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    --Sierra Blue with Tan leather interior and Dark Blue carpeting, 5-speed ZF manual transmission, Concours restoration by marque specialists, 4.2 liter engine. This DB5 was original delivered through Aston Martin agent W. H. Benhams in the UK in its current color Sierra Blue. It made its way to the United States circa 1980. By the early 2000’s it was in the ownership of Mr. C. Sheehan, Tigard, Oregon. During this ownership, this DB5 was used on several vintage rallies and made appearances at several British automobile meetings/concours. It was serviced and received sympathetic restoration by Kevin Kay Restorations in California. Mr. Sheehan sold this DB5 to Autosport Designs, Inc., January 2006 where it was offered for resale. In March 2006, this Aston was sold to a good client of Autosport Designs, Inc., Mr. M. Bless, who has recently moved from New York to Carmel, California. Mr. Bless was also the owner of a DB Short Chassis Volante and more modern DB7 Vantage Coupe at the time. While in California the DB5 was serviced and maintained by Randy and Ricky Reed of Antique Auto Restorations, Monterey, California. Subsequently, this DB5 was consigned to the 2013 Gooding and Company, Pe

    • Year: 1965
    • Mileage: 2017 mi
    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

    POA POA

    Engine Size 4.2l Mileage 10,700 miles Previous Owners 8 Bodystyle Coupe Seats 4 Transmission Manual Exterior Colour Goodwood Green Interior Trim Tan The DB5 we are delighted to offer is finished in its original colours of Goodwood Green with Tan hides. Built in 1965 the car was sold in 1967 to its second long term owner by London dealers H.R. Owen and kept for 30 years. During this time it was used for special occasions only, prior to the owner becoming unable to use the car. Purchased In 1997 by a London based gentleman, the car was maintained with Aston Martin Agents Ian Mason before Nicholas Mee & Co acquired it in 1998. Since being in our care with the last owners, the car has benefitted from an extensive mechanical restoration, including a rebuild to its original engine to 4.2 litre specifications, suspension upgrades, brakes rebuilt and meticulous maintenance works, while preserving the original standards of this superb car. Never dilapidated and without need of restoration, it is a pleasure to drive and to be seated, in its gently aged cabin. With matching numbers, original colour combination and superb driving condition, this car is a delight in every respect. Whilst satisf

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 10700 mi
    For sale
  • 1964 ASTON MARTIN DB5 COUPE

    POA POA

    --Silver Birch with Black leather interior and Black carpeting, Fully Restored, 5-speed ZF manual gearbox, LHD, Air conditioning, Matching numbers. This DB5 was delivered on March 6, 1964 to Mr. P. McDonald, Glasgow, Scotland by main agent Callanders Garages Ltd. This DB5 has been kept in long term ownership having compiled very few miles throughout the years (33,763) and until its complete restoration by marque specialists The Aston Workshop in 2008. As per The Aston Workshop records, the body and chassis where completely stripped, the chassis powder coated and rust proofed and all fully rebuilt to as new condition throughout. The body has been refinished to concours standards with all brightwork/chrome being renewed at this time. In the midst of restoration, the DB5 was sold to a German client who requested its conversion from RHD-LHD and for use in its new home in Germany. The interior was refinished to as new, a period Motorola radio fitted as well as an alarm system and finally a bespoke modern air conditioning system was fitted to ensure summer use and enjoyment to modern car standards. The matching engine was rebuilt to 4.2 liter unleaded specifications, the factory original

    • Year: 1964
    • Mileage: 2017 mi
    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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