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Aston Martin DB7: Buying guide and review (1994-2003)

Aston Martin DB7 side profile Aston Martin DB7 interior Aston Martin DB7 engine The Aston Martin DB7 is a car to polarise opinions. Devotees will tell you that it was the first Aston truly dependable enough to be driven every day, the first you could leave out in the street and be sure it would function in the morning as, say, a Porsche would. It was also the first Aston built with modern high(ish)-volume methods to proper, consistent quality standards, and it sowed the seed of the company Aston Martin has since become.

Today a DB7 can seem almost irresistibly cheap for a car with those looks and that badge, never mind the pace potential. You can buy one for as little as £16,000. So how can you lose?

A powerful part of its appeal 19 years after launch is that it was the car that saved the company. So, how did the DB7 come to be? Aston Martin had been floundering after the Victor Gauntlett era, as it had so often before, and this particular new dawn involved the Ford Motor Company, which already owned Jaguar. Ford needed the venerable Aston brand to pay its way and forge a future.

This called for a cheaper model able to be built in greater numbers, and a rummage through the corporate cupboard uncovered just the starting point – an abandoned proposal for a Jaguar XJS replacement. Designer Ian Callum reworked the ingredients into a svelte and credible Aston Martin shape.

Under the bonnet was an AJ16 Jaguar straight-six engine, which gained an Eaton supercharger to help extract 335bhp from the 3.2-litre capacity, and while the XJS-derived platform was clearly dated, having first appeared 19 years before the DB7’s 1994 launch, it did the job.

Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) carried out the development and ran the factory at Bloxham, Oxfordshire where the DB7 would be built, having just finished producing Jaguar XJ220s. The DB7 was also the first (and last) Aston Martin with a steel monococque structure, although it did add some newer bodywork technology with its heat-pressed composite front wings and bootlid. Early cars had composite bonnets, too, but the panel gaps proved both inconsistent and heat-relatedly mobile, so later cars had a steel panel.

So there’s not as much bespoke Aston Martin in a DB7 as a purist might like. The ‘Jag in drag’ references of the time are a bit harsh, though, because even the Jaguar-derived parts had Aston-specific calibration and development, and a DB7 looks like a proper Aston both outside and in.

It’s better to think of the DB7 as a new beginning, as the starting point for today’s company with its Gaydon factory and the V12 engine, which began life in 1999’s DB7 Vantage.

Which one to buy?

The DB7 was made in bigger numbers than any Aston before it, with 2451 six-cylinder cars leaving the factory before the V12 replaced them and took production to its 2003 end. In total, 7091 DB7s were built, including Volante convertibles. Today’s Aston production rate, however, far eclipses those figures.

Now that the DB7 is coming out of its wilderness years, this means that really good ones can be worth more than commonplace early DB9s and V8 Vantages.

Because a DB7 is more exclusive than the Jag XK8 rival, it looks sleeker and, perversely, its imperfections now take on the aura of a classic car’s character. Besides which, a six-cylinder one handles beautifully and goes with great verve, although the more common (75 per cent of production) four-speed automatic with the engine detuned to 317bhp might not be a petrolhead's cup of Earl Grey and is worth around 20 per cent less.

Or there’s the V12, initially with 420bhp, later with 435 as the Vantage GT; it’s very quick and sounds wonderful, the GT especially covetable with its mesh grille, bonnet vents, shorter gearing, uprated brakes and keener handling. Manuals are more common with this engine at around 40 per cent of production. Although early cars were never the the most accomplished drivers' cars, the last-of-the-line Vantage GT is a much improved proposition – something that is reflected in the price. 
 
The Aston Martin DB7 was also the basis for a couple of special Zagato-bodied cars. Just 99 standard coupe versions were built, as well as 99 AR1 models. AR1 actually stands for America Roadster 1, due to being exclusively offered in the USA, although obviously a handful made it to other countries. 

Performance and spec

Engine In-line 6-cyl, 3228cc, supercharged
Power 335bhp @ 5750rpm
Torque 361lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual (or four-speed automatic), rear-wheel drive, limited-slip diff
Weight 1700kg
0-60mph 5.8sec
Top speed 157mph

Common problems

• A full and detailed service history is a very nice thing to have, because infrequent oil changes can clog the hydraulic timing-chain tensioner in the otherwise very durable straight-six. The rattly chain that will eventually develop is pricy to replace. 
 
• The V12 is also a very reliable engine on the whole, and it was the first appearance of an engine that has remained in production to this very day. There are a couple of things to look out for though, one of which is the engine's occasional habit of breaking down one of the 12 individual coil packs. This is generally due to heat and age, causing misfires. It's often easy to miss on a test drive, as even on 11 cylinders the Aston Martin remains smooth and refined. As they are hard to get at, replacement can be expensive – so proof of recent replacement  (of all 12) by a specialist, although generally not always necessary is always a bonus.
 
• Have a good look underneath, where rust can take hold – more likely in a V12, oddly, because cost-cutting led to less protection. Front floorpans, inner wings and suspension turrets, rear radius-arm mountings and rear chassis legs are the trouble spots. Getting the car on a ramp is the best way to see everything, and it will pay in the long run to get a car with no structural issues.
 
• Although much easier to spot, you should also be on the look out for the beginnings of rust on the the wheelarches and door bottoms. Another possible area for concern is the bottom corner of the rear window aperture, which can make an otherwise nice example look scruffy.
 
• Look in the service history for checks of the suspension’s fully adjustable alignment, too; the tyres wear quickly if it’s out, while the car will not feel planted on the road. 

• You’re unlikely to find an original composite bonnet on an early car because most have been replaced with a steel one. As well as the gap problems, a composite panel goes porous if its outer layer is perforated and bubbles duly appear.

• The six-cylinder DB7’s boot-mounted badge can trigger this, which is why the V12 doesn’t have one.

• On the steel panels, rear wheelarch lips and the bottom corners of the rear window aperture are worth a close check.

• The sumptuous interior is durable and high in quality, but try the air-con because blockages can blow the evaporator apart if the car isn’t used regularly. Fixing this involves removing most of the interior.

• Damp carpets could be from a failed windscreen-to-scuttle seal.

Model history

1993: DB7 makes debut at Geneva
1994: First customer cars delivered
1996: Volante launched
1999: V12 Vantage replaces six-pot DB7
2002: Run-out DB7 on sale (GT, GTA); Zagato launched (delivered 2003)
2003: Zagato Vantage Volante, DB AR1, unveiled; 99 made. Final DB7s built.

Useful clubs and websites

- www.amoc.org
- www.amocna.org

Summary and prices

‘Any six-cylinder DB7 worth having will start at around £25,000,’ cautions Derek Campbell, MD of the Chiltern Aston Centre (www.chilternaston.co.uk). ‘Any less than this and you must have it inspected thoroughly. Provenance and how it has been looked after are vital. And low-mileage, manual cars are worth the most.’

At the other end of the scale, late Vantages can nudge £50,000, especially if it’s the open Volante version or the final, limited-run GT. And if you find one of the 99 Zagato-bodied versions, you'll encounter a price tag far into six figures.

Words: Vantage Magazine
Aston Martin DB7 side profile Aston Martin DB7 interior Aston Martin DB7 engine
Last updated: 30th Mar 2016
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Aston Martin DB7 cars for sale

7 Search results
Aston Martin DB7
8995 49995 GBP
  • Aston Martin Db7 2002

    £9,950 £9,950

    A LATE DB7 WITH 17 MAIN DEALERS SERVICES IN THE BOOK (18 stamps in total).......,  MOT due 01/10/2016, 2 seats, Silver,  PX CLEARANCE.....Superb value DB7, almost a 2003 (registered 25/11/2002), Solent silver with grey and navy interior, electric seats, heated seats, cd changer, sat nav, push button start, sport mode, remote locking, traction control, usual high spec Aston, last owner since 2008, and this car come with the most comprehensive service history, serviced 17 times by Aston main dealer,

    • Mileage: 107000 mi
    • Engine size: 5935
    For sale
    FridayAd
  • Aston Martin DB7

    £41,995 £41,995

    Only approximately 800 of the early DB7 i6 Volante Aston Martins were ever made and this particular example is car 49 of 150 in the Dunhill Special series which came with humidor & Alfred Dunhill luggage set and pen. Our car is rarer still, having the Dunhill grooming kit in place of the humidor. Presented in Dunhill exclusive platinum silver, contrasting Charcoal Connolly hide piped in silver grey interior with brushed aluminium panels, Dunhill clock and attractive white faced instruments. With just 49,600 miles and three owners from new, the car spent the first 12 years of its life in Jersey before being brought to the UK in 2011. Complete with MOT until Sept 2016, newly refurbished alloys and a fresh service on sale this car is ready for a new home to enjoy spring and summer.

    • Year: 1998
    • Mileage: 49600 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB7

    £37,950 £37,950

    This Beautiful Example Low Mileage DB7 Volante Comes With The Following Spec: Full Service History To Include Five Services At Aston Martin And Four At Specialist Dealers, 19 Inch Alloy Wheels, Full Black Leather Interior With Silver Piping, Heated Front Sports Seats, Aston Martin Traffic Pro Satellite Navigation System, Leather Steering Wheel With Gear Change Buttons, CD Radio, Automatic Air Conditioning, Black Cloth Electric Folding Hood, Wind Deflector & Tonneau Cover, Engine Start Button, Heated Front And Rear Screens, Remote Locking Electric Windows, 2 Keys And Much Much More. Parkway Motor Group Are An RAC APPROVED Dealer and All Our Cars Come With 12 Months M.O.T, Service, HPI Certificate and an RAC Warranty. RAC Inspections Welcome, Fina

    • Mileage: 31760 mi
    • Engine size: 5900
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB7

    £49,995 £49,995

    DEPOSIT TAKEN. WE WANT TO BUY YOUR SUPERCAR!! BEST PRICES PAID, IMMEDIATE COLLECTION, CALL OUR TEAM FOR MORE DETAILS. 1 OWNER FROM NEW, ONLY 18,900 MILES FULLY WARRANTED, FULL ASTON MARTIN SERVICE HISTORY, UNBELIEVABLE CONDITION THROUGHOUT., Upgrades - Touchtronic Transmission, Heated Front Screen, Wind Deflector (Volante), Leather Hood Cover (Volante), Standard Features - Satellite Navigation, Alarm, Alloy Wheels (18in), In Car Entertainment (Radio/Cassette/CD), Tracker, Upholstery Leather. 2 seats, Silver, THB BOSCH APPROVED DEALER; Overnight Stay or Nationwide Delivery available. DREAM IT. DRIVE IT. Visit thboler.com for a full set of pictures for this vehicle, PEACE OF MIND with our own fully comprehensive BOSCH approved Warranty. Buy your car from one of the largest independent car dealers in the UK with a unique service centre and kids play area. 3 Month THB WARRANTY INCLUDED. Visit our website thboler.com for more details. ALL MAJOR PAYMENT METHODS ACCEPTED. ALL P/X WELCOME, OR FOR A UNBEATABLE FINANCE QUOTATION PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE WWW.THBOLER.COM. OPEN 24/7. NATIONWIDE + INTERNATIONAL DELIVERY AVAILABLE. CONTACT US FOR DETAILS ON OUR FLEXIBLE TEST DRIVE PROGRAMME

    • Mileage: 18900 mi
    • Engine size: 5935
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB7

    £34,950 £34,950

    Air Conditioning, Full Leather, Power Steering, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, CD Player, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Immobiliser, Metallic Paintwork, Electric Seats, ABS I Would Like To Introduce You To My Superb, Stunning, Hand Built Aston Martin DB7 i6 Volante. It Has The All Important And Extremely Rare Manual Gearbox. I Believe There Was Only In The Region Of 125 Of These Ever Built Out Of Only 865 DB7 i6 Volante's. It Has Full Service History, Most Of Which Is Aston Martin Specialist. Since I Have Owned This Car I Have Attended To Anything It Desired. It Has Just Had New Front Brake Calipers, Disks + Pads, New Wheel Bearings, New Anti-Roll Bar Links, New Bushes, New Heater Valve. I Have Personally Given It A Full Detail , The Leather Has Been Cleaned & Fed And Is In Superb Original Condition. She Sounds Simply Sublimbe And Will Roar Down The Road At The Press Of A Pedal. As You Probably Already Know These Are Appreciating Cars, This One In Particular As A Manual i6 Volante Is Amongst The Rarest Modern Day Classic Astons. It Would Be The Perfect Car To Store In The Garage And Bring Out And Enjoy On Sunny Days. It Has A Power Roof, Windows + Mirrors, Upgraded C.D Player, Remote Central Locking Alarm + Immobiliser, Power Steering. 2 Sets Of Keys + Fobs.. I Am Open To Part Exchanges Enquires Up Or Down. Warranty Available. Credit/Debt Cards Accepted.

    • Mileage: 60000 mi
    • Engine size: 3239
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB7

    £8,995 £8,995

    Aston martin db7 for sale. HERE WE HAVE A GREAT WINTER PROJECT FOR SALE FOR THE KEEN CAR RESTORERS AMONGST YOU AND ASTON ENTHUSIASTS !!!!! This vehicle can be viewed in person, during work hours (listed above) at our premises at: cmsporsche.co.uk, Hortonwood, Telford, Shropshire, England ***************** AN EXCELLENT INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY AND A VERY COLLECTABLE,1997- ASTON MARTIN DB7 3.2 SUPERCHARGED COUPE @ ONLY £9495.00 as is This stunning 1997 Aston Martin DB7 has FULL service history (20 STAMPS)and Dealer retro-fitted optional performance pack !! In graphite grey metallic with grey leather piped in black and it is mot'd until march 2016 So a great opportunity to BUILD a value aston martin that was clearly previously owned by an aston enthusiast it runs and drives for loading purposes with central front damage (as in pics) Cat c insurance payout value was approx £19,850 so grab a bargain classic supercar !!! It has central lower front damage as shown in the pictures and is a straight forward repair for any body repairer or good d.i.y.er !!! This big spec... 3.2 model includes factory optional extras such as: Optional driving dynamic sports performance upgrade pack which includes: Sports exhaust 18" magnesium forged speedline alloys Sports handling suspension pack A 3 spoke sports steering wheel Automatic gearbox Full leather interior Heated electric driver and passenger seats Two-tone leather dashboard Optional various detailing extras such as wood trims Etc etc ALL OF THIS FOR ONLY £8995.00 CALL US ON: 01952 608-911 OR 07831 711609 NO TEXTS PLEASE ....WE DONT REPLY PLEASE NOTE: PAYMENT AND FULL CONTACT DETAILS DUE BEFORE WITHDRAWING FROM SALE. Any questions feel free to ask. You are welcome to come and view the car before making an offer. Please call . 01952 608911 OR 07831 711609 Collection available or delivery within UK Mainland only at £1.23 per mile, miniumum charge equivalent of 30 miles.

    • Year: 1997
    • Mileage: 90000 mi
    • Engine size: 3.2
    For sale
    Steven Peel
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