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Aston Martin DBS: buying guide and review (1967-1973)

Aston Martin DBS: buying guide and review (1967-1973) Classic and Performance Car
Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS The sleeping giant has awoken. The six-cylinder DBS, for so long undervalued in the Aston marketplace, is finally commanding the sort of interest – and the sort of prices – that it arguably should have done for years. When you contemplate an example as fabulous as this deliciously original 1971 Vantage, you can only wonder why it’s taken so long.

The DBS’s classic credentials are impeccable: it’s a 100 per cent thoroughbred Aston, from its hand-formed aluminium bodywork to its 4-litre Tadek Marek straight-six; it was handbuilt at Newport Pagnell by the same chaps who built DBs 4, 5 and 6; and it's as rare as any of them. There’s not quite unanimity about the exact number, but the total built was only around 800 in a production run that began in September 1967 and lasted until April 1972.

One thing the DBS didn’t do was replace the DB6, even if that was David Brown’s original intention; the two were produced in parallel until the last DB6 rolled out of the Works in January 1971. So think of the DBS as the smoother-riding, more spacious, more cosseting, grown-up alter ego to the DB6. It certainly had more than one eye on the American market, with its wider track, muscle-car stance and the options of power steering, air-conditioning and an automatic gearbox. But to view it as a boulevard cruiser is to sell it very short.

Under the skin, DBS and DB6 are extremely closely related, though you’d never guess at a glance. Englishman William Towns’ design was starkly different to the Touring-bodied DBs. In fact, visually, the only things carried over were the signature air vents in the front wings, while the front aspect included a modern take on what had become the traditional Aston grille, much shallower and squarer-edged than before and further distinguished by four, equal-sized quartz-halogen headlamps.

It was never any secret that the DBS was intended to be powered by an all-new V8. Tadek Marek had been working on one since as early as 1963, and it had been testing extensively since 1966, but – not to put too fine a point on it – the damn thing kept breaking, so a late decision was made to launch with the DB6’s straight-six.

Which one to buy?

The DBS was universally well received. No carping about the absence of the new V8 engine. There was a gentle dig or two about the car’s weight, which rather blunted the performance, but lots of praise for the styling, the level of comfort in the luxurious interior, and in particular the handling.

To offset the weight handicap, there was a Vantage version available right from launch. This had three twin-choke 45DCOE Weber carburettors instead of the standard engine’s three SUs, slightly reprofiled cams and a higher 9.4:1 compression ratio. The outputs generally quoted are 282bhp for the standard engine and 325bhp for the Vantage, though these figures are probably wishful thinking.

Extraordinary to relate today, in an age when manufacturers invariably charge a substantial premium for such things, the Vantage engine was a no-extra-cost option (although anyone who selected it certainly paid at the fuel pumps; Motor recorded just 10.9mpg with the press car, which also consumed a pint of oil every 100 miles!). Power steering, conversely, was a £133 extra – another sign of the times, when such assistance was still viewed with suspicion by many drivers of a sporting persuasion.

Even in Vantage spec, performance was brisk rather than explosive, Autocar recording 0-60mph in 7.1sec on the way to an averaged top speed of 141.5mph. Of course, these days if your pockets are deep enough you get someone like RS Williams to take the capacity out to 4.7 litres, which will give a genuine 330bhp, and then things get properly interesting. Especially when you keep in mind that the six-cylinder engine, being usefully lighter than the V8, gives the DBS an ideal 50/50 front/rear weight distribution.

Performance and spec

Engine 3995cc, in-line six-cylinder
Power 325bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 290lb ft @ 4500rpm
Top speed 142mph
0-60mph 7.1secs
Fuel consumption 12.6mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2611mm
Length 4585mm
Width 1829mm
Height 1328mm
Weight 1588kg

Common problems

• Budget around £1500 a year on general upkeep, which should cover most eventualities.

• Aston specified oil changes every 2500 miles (and the front suspension and steering to be greased at the same time), though with modern lubricants the interval can be stretched to 5000. For most owners that’s more than they’re likely to do in a year, so an annual service is the norm.

• Aston Works charges £1600 (including VAT) for a 5000-mile service, and £2500 for the 10,000-miler, which includes all lubricants, fluids and filters, and an engine tune.

• If it’s had any major restoration work, check that a reputable specialist has done it.

• Corrosion is the biggest enemy. Don’t be fooled into thinking the aluminium body panels are immune – they’re not, especially where the aluminium skin is clenched around the steel understructure: the bottom of the A-pillars, and the wing and door edges, for example.

• The most critical area, though, is the sills – because they’re structural and prone to rot. Total replacement can cost £20,000. Fortunately they’re easy to examine by removing the stainless steel covers.

• If the DBS has got an Achilles’ heel it’s that it’s big and heavy, which tends to wear things like wheel bearings, suspension parts and brakes, though with most doing limited mileages that’s not such a problem today.

• The ZF manual gearbox can be recalcitrant from cold, particularly going into second gear, so don’t be too alarmed if it feels difficult when you set out on a test drive.

• Do worry if it doesn’t get easier when it’s warm, and listen for whines from both the gearbox and the back axle.

• The Armstrong Selectaride dampers at the rear can be prone to failure, so listen for clonking over bumps.

• If the inboard rear brakes have been recently refurbished that’s a big tick. Despite an access panel behind the seats, they’re a pig to get to, which bumps up labour charges.

• Make sure all the trim is present and correct, and the same goes for the internal fittings and dashboard. Spares like window switches are next to impossible to source these days.

Model history

September 1967: Series 1 DBS initially launched, alongside the DB6. Vantage-spec offered as a no-cost option.
1969: Tadek Marek’s V8 engine is slotted into the DBS, to create the DBS-V8
1970: Series 2 cars introduced, featuring many of the subtle changes seen on the V8, such as deeper chrome sill covers and the deletion of the vent in the c-post.
April 1972: Production of the DBS ends.

Key websites and clubs

• www.astonmartinworks.com - Aston Martin’s official heritage and restoration workshop
• www.amoc.org - Aston Martin Owners Club website and forum

Summary and prices

Prices are on the move, and have been for some time. A couple of years ago, £50,000 was top money. Twelve months ago, the best were fetching up to £70k. Today, that same amount would buy only an average car and the finest examples are well into six figures. Speak to some specialists, and sums as high as £150,000 are being mentioned.

Words: Peter Tomalin // Images: Matthew Howell
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Last updated: 7th Oct 2015
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Aston Martin DBS cars for sale

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Aston Martin DBS
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  • ASTON MARTIN DBS CONVERTIBLE

    POA POA

    SOLD TO GERMANY Brand Aston Martin Type DBS Color Silver Interior Brown Year of build 1969 Price Sold 1969 ASTON MARTIN DBS CONVERTIBLE This extremely rare and unique convertible version Aston Martin DBS has been sold to a customer in Germany. Please contact us if you are interested in buying or selling a rare/unique automobile. MORE INFORMATION For more information or an appointment, please call Rutger Houtkamp+31625098150 or send an e-mail to Rutger@Houtkamp.nl . Please do not hesitate to contact us by phone during evenings or in the weekend. The Houtkamp Collection is centrally located near Amsterdam and only 10 minutes from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Please contact us directly or fill in the form to receive more information on this specific car Your Name (required) Your Email (required) Your phone number Subject Your Message The information provided on this website has been compiled by The Houtkamp Collection with the utmost care. The information contained within this advert is provided ‘as-is’, without warranties as to its accuracy whether expressed or implied and is intended for informational purposes only. The Houtkamp Collection is not liable for any errors or mistakes.

    • Year: 1969
    For sale
    The Houtkamp Collection
  • Aston Martin DBS Coupe SOLD

    £129,950 £129,950

    £129,950 YEAR: 2012 DRIVE SIDE: Right MILEAGE: 14391 TRANSMISSION: 6-Speed Touchtronic 2 Automatic POWER: 510 bhp ENGINE SIZE: 6.0 litre V12 EXTERIOR COLOUR: Quantum Silver ACCELERATION: 4.3s (0-60 mph) MAX SPEED: 183 mph Standard Features •1000 W Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system with ICEpower® technology including six-CD autochanger •Adaptive Damping System (ADS) with Track mode •Alarm and immobiliser •Aluminium, magnesium alloy and carbon fibre composite body •Auxilliary audio input including integrated Apple iPod® connector •Bluetooth® telephone preparation •Boot-mounted umbrella •Carbon fibre door trims and door pulls •Cruise control •Dual stage driver and passenger front airbags •Dynamic stability control (DSC) with Track mode •Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) •Emergency brake assist (EBA) •Front and rear parking sensors •Heated rear screen •High Intensity Discharge headlamps (dipped beam) •LED rear lamps and side repeaters •Memory seats and exterior mirrors •Powerfold exterior heated mirrors •Satellite navigation system •Traction Control (TC) •Trip computer •Tyre pressure monitoring system •Ventilated, carbon ceramic disc brakes with ABS Optional Extras SOLD Acces

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 14391 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DBS

    £113,950 £113,950

    Variant name:Coupe ,Variant: V12 2dr Touchtronic Auto Aston Martin present this rare DBS finished in Morning Frost White Metallic. This stunning car comes fully Aston Martin approved with 12 months Aston Martin warranty and 12 months MOT. Contact our team now for a personalised video of this vehicle. Low rate finance packages available. Nationwide delivery available.

    • Year: 2011
    • Mileage: 14285 mi
    • Engine size: 5.9
    For sale
  • 2011 Aston Martin DBS

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    10 Spoke Diamond Turned Alloys, Sports Seats, 2+2 Seating Arrangement, Second Glass Key, Alarm Upgrade Volumetric & Tilt Sensors, Silver Facia, Garage Door Opener With Auto Dimming Mirror, Warm Charcoal Seatbelts, UK Supplied Car, Exceptional Example! DBS 14 number plate available at additional cost. Carbon Ceramic Brakes, 1000W Bang & Olufsen Sound System, Carbon Fibre Door Trims And Door Pulls, Cruise Control, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth Telephone Preparation, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, iPod Connector, Dynamic Stability Control with Track Mode, Automatic Climate Control, Electric Heated Seats with Memory, Leather Sports Steering Wheel, Powerfold Heated Mirrors with Memory, Boot-Mounted Umbrella, Heated Rear Screen, Remote Central Locking and Boot Release, Tyre Pressure Monitoring.

    • Mileage: 7400 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DBS 6

    £79,950 £79,950

    Whilst by no means concourse, this classic Aston Martin would make an ideal 'personal' restoration project. A very original 1969 Aston Martin DBS 6 Automatic finished in green metallic with contrasting cream interior and bespoke walnut dash and door cappings. Exported to America in 2002 by the then owner and later sold the car was repatriated to the UK by the Aston Workshop. Replica of the DBS used in the James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969) Handwritten text in the glove box "007, OHMSS" and a signature that appears to be George Lazenby's. These extremely quick sports cars were the envy of the world when they appeared on the scene and once again, this is repeated today as these models are highly sought after and collectable. We have completed our standard health check, and would be happy to share our findings with any interested parties. An ideal opportunity to achieve a step into Aston ownership. For more information, please contact a member of our sales team: +44 (0)1207 233 525 Photographs Media Additional Details Enhancements available Convert to R Hand or L Hand drive Fit Auto or Manual gearbox Fit Sat Nav Tweet Services Aston Car Sales Body Centre Enhance

    • Year: 1969
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DBS Touchtronic II Carbon black

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    Features : 1st Main, Origin Auto Performance, book a day ... Comment : Series Carbon Black, Bang & Olufsen stereo system, Reversing camera, iPod, Bluetooth, High Security Alarm, electrochromic rearview mirror, Piano Black, 2 +2, Piano Black Finish, finish Grid magnum, Coyote, Luggage sets ivory leather Aston Martin ...

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 1057 mi
    For sale
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