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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
Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS Aston Martin DBS
Last updated: 7th Oct 2015
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Aston Martin DBS
89991 169995 GBP
  • Aston Martin DBS Manual

    £124,995 £124,995

    Registered 2009 Mileage 31,543 miles Engine Size 5.9 l Transmission Manual Fuel Type Petrol Fuel Consumption 17.3 mpg Registered 2009 Registration MX09MYW Previous Owners 4 Fuel Consumption 17.3 mpg Tax Band M Tax Cost £535 Colour Silver Interior Trim N/A Exterior Colour Meteorite Doors 2 Fuel Type Petrol Bodystyle Coupe Mileage 31,543 miles Engine Size 5.9 l Transmission Manual MPG figures are obtained from laboratory testing and intended for comparisons between vehicles. They are unlikely to represent real world efficiency. Left Right Tailor Your Finance Vehicle Features Warranty Technical Spec Tailor Your Finance Vehicle Features Fitted Options Satellite Navigation System Adaptive Damping System (ADS) IPOD Connection Auto Dimming Interior Rear View Mirror Aston Martin Service History Automatic Headlights Brake Calipers Black Clear Rear Lamps Contrast Stitching Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) 20 Inch 10 Spoke Graphite DT Wheels Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) Embroided Logo in Headrest Full Aston Martin Service History Front and Rear Parking Sensors Heated Rear Screen LED Rear Lamps Piano Black Facia Trim Power Wash Headlamps Seatbelts - Warm

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 31543 mi
    For sale
    £124,995 £124,995
    HWM Aston Martin
    01932 506947 View contact number
  • Aston Martin Dbs 1973

    £128,000 £128,000

    The six cylinder William Towns styled DBS had been around for a couple of years anxiously awaiting the V8 engine that had been especially designed for it. In early 1970, the DBS V8 was finally ready to become one of the fastest cars available at the time. The 5.3 litre Tadek Marek-designed engine was able to develop around 320bhp, which gave the ability to reach 160mph; all this with space for four people. Demand for the car was great with production reaching 402 examples within just two years.

    • Mileage: 90000 mi
    • Engine size: 5300
    For sale
    £128,000 £128,000
  • ASTON MARTIN DBS 2 Plus 2 2009

    £93,990 £93,990

    Finished in Quantum Silver with Obsidian Black leather, fitted with the following;;Satellite Navigation;Alarm Upgrade;Piano black Facia;Garage door opener;Auto dimming mirror;20" Alloy wheels in Graphite;Adaptive dampers;Bang and Olufsen sound system;Bluetooth telephone preparation;Cruise control.;This superb DBS is finished in a very desirable colour combination and has covered 25,894 miles. The vehicle has a full Aston Martin service history as detailed below and has an Aston Martin Warranty till April 2018.;24 -06-2010 at 8025 miles by Aston Martin Exeter;30 -07-2011 at 8025 miles by Aston Martin Exeter;08-11- 2012 at 14147 miles by Aston Martin Welwyn;17- 10-2013 at 14595 miles by Aston Martin Welwyn;24 -09-2014 at 15113 miles by Aston Martin Welwyn;14 -09 - 2015 at 18373 miles by Aston Martin Cambridge;08-09 -2016 at 24609 miles by Aston Martin Cambridge;To arrange an appointment to view this car, please call the Showroom: 01223 755 911 or 07738 997 911. Viewing By Appointment

    • Mileage: 25850 mi
    For sale
    £93,990 £93,990
  • Aston Martin DBS V12 2+2 Auto

    £97,750 £97,750

    Registered 2011 Mileage 28,678 miles Engine Size 5.9 l Transmission Automatic Fuel Type Petrol Fuel Consumption 18.2 mpg Registered 2011 Registration NK11CHL Previous Owners 3 Fuel Consumption 18.2 mpg Tax Band M Tax Cost £535 Colour Black Interior Trim N/A Exterior Colour AML Carbon Black Doors 2 Fuel Type Petrol Bodystyle Coupe Mileage 28,678 miles Engine Size 5.9 l Transmission Automatic MPG figures are obtained from laboratory testing and intended for comparisons between vehicles. They are unlikely to represent real world efficiency. Left Right Tailor Your Finance Vehicle Features Warranty Technical Spec Tailor Your Finance Vehicle Features Fitted Options 20 Inch 10 Spoke Gloss Black DT Wheels Heated Front Seats Carbon Fibre Splitter and Diffuser Carbon Ceramic Brakes Climate Control Adaptive Damping System (ADS) Carbon Effect Mirror Caps Facia Trim - Piano Black Paint - Special AML Colour 6 CD Autochanger Brake Calipers Black Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Audio Alarm Upgrade Volumetric & Tilt Sensors Aston Martin Service History Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) Clear Rear Lamps Electrically Adjustable Seats with Side Airbags Embroided Logo in

    • Year: 2011
    • Mileage: 28678 mi
    For sale
    £97,750 £97,750
  • ASTON MARTIN DBS V12 TOUCHTRONIC CARBON BLACK EDITION - INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

    £112,995 £112,995

    With a 510-bhp 5.9-liter V-12 engine, a new Touchtronic 2 6-speed automatic gearbox and a chassis constructed entirely of aluminum and carbon-fiber, all wrapped in trademark sultry skin, it's no wonder that the British company's latest creation - the DBS is the preferred mode of transportation for 007 in the latest installments of the James Bond film series. The most important feature of this special edition car is obviously the bespoke Carbon Black metallic paint - especially formulated with a subtle metallic twist to create a deep, rich patina, and which requires 50 man-hours of hand-painting to apply, according to Aston Martin. The interior is finished in Obsidian Black leather seats with hand made silver stitching. There is a piano black fascia trim that is also used for the centre stack and centre console along with anodised black tread plates and unique sill plaques build on the carbon theme. Lightweight seats formed from Carbon Fibre and Kevlar saving 17 kg over the standard seats come together with the Bang & Olufsen Beosound audio system as standard. Other changes include a bright finished front grille and front parking sensors. This immaculate example benefits from a full

    • Year: 2010
    • Mileage: 14500 mi
    For sale
    £112,995 £112,995
  • Aston Martin DBS Coupe

    £118,950 £118,950

    £118,950 YEAR: 2009 DRIVE SIDE: Right MILEAGE: 10443 TRANSMISSION: 6-Speed Touchtronic 2 Automatic POWER: 510 bhp ENGINE SIZE: 6.0 litre V12 EXTERIOR COLOUR: Storm Black INTERIOR COLOUR: Chancellor Red ACCELERATION: 4.1s (0-60 mph) MAX SPEED: 183 mph Standard Features •20" alloy wheels •Adaptive Damping System (ADS) with track mode •Alarm and immobiliser •Aluminium, magnesium alloy and carbon fibre composite body •Bang & Olufsen Beosound DBS Sound System •Battery conditioner and disconnect switch •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 with Track mode (DSC) •Electrically adjustable heated front sports seats •Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) •Emergency brake assist (EBA) •Front and rear parking sensors •Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Satellite navigation system •Heated rear screen •HID projector headlamps •iPod integration and MP3 connectivity •LED rear lamps and side repeaters •Memory seats and exterior mirrors •Powerfold mirrors •Semi-aniline leather •Side airbags (sports seats only) •Trip computer •Tyre pressure monitoring •Ventilated, c

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 10443 mi
    For sale
    £118,950 £118,950
  • Aston Martin DBS Volante Touchtronic Carbon Edition

    £109,990 £109,990

    Registered 2011 Mileage 28,250 miles Engine Size 5.9 l Transmission Automatic Fuel Type Petrol Fuel Consumption N/A Registered 2011 Registration DC11DFK Previous Owners N/A Fuel Consumption N/A Tax Band N/A Tax Cost N/A Colour Carbon Black AML Interior Trim N/A Exterior Colour Carbon Black AML Doors N/A Fuel Type Petrol Bodystyle Convertible Mileage 28,250 miles Engine Size 5.9 l Transmission Automatic MPG figures are obtained from laboratory testing and intended for comparisons between vehicles. They are unlikely to represent real world efficiency. Left Right Tailor Your Finance Vehicle Features Warranty Technical Spec Tailor Your Finance Vehicle Features Fitted Options 10 Spoke Forged Black DT Alloy Wheels Electric Lumber Support 2 plus 2 Seating Carbon Ceramic Brakes 6 CD Autochanger Adaptive Damping System (ADS) Paint - Special AML Colour Xenon Headlamps Alarm and Immobiliser Alarm Upgrade Volumetric & Tilt Sensors Aston Martin Service History Satellite Navigation System Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror Bright Finish Grille Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) Embroided Logo in Headrest Fine Contrast Stitch LED Rear

    • Year: 2011
    • Mileage: 28250 mi
    For sale
    £109,990 £109,990
  • Aston Martin DBS

    £99,990 £99,990

    Bang & Olufsen, Memory Seats, Heated Seats, Cruise Control, Parking Sensors, Bluetooth, Electric Seats, Satellite Navigation, Powerfold Door Mirrors, Full main dealer service history +++FREE NATIONAL DELIVERY+++PART EXCHANGE WELCOME+FINANCE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST - SUBJECT TO STATUS+COMPANY DIRECTORS PACKAGES AVAILABLE+ALL VEHICLES PROFESSIONALLY VALETED AND READY- Aston Martin DBS 6.0 V12 Touchtronic Automatic registered March 2010 (10) finished in Hammerhead Silver with Full Black Leather interior with Grey Contrast Stitching, Carbon Fibre Exterior Trim Details, Carbon Fibre Interior Door Trim, Bang & Olufsen Audio, Carbon Ceramic Brakes, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, 20 Inch 10 Spoke Alloys with Black Brake Callipers, Electric Heated Seats With Memory Package, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, Cruise Control, Perforated Leather Multifunction Steering Wheel with Paddleshift, Xenon Headlamps with Washers, Powerfold Door Mirrors, Full Aston Martin Service History on 16/03/11; 28/02/12; 28/05/13; 23/05/14; 14/05/15; 20/05/16 and 30/05/17.

    • Mileage: 26500 mi
    • Engine size: 5935
    For sale
    £99,990 £99,990