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The Aston Martin DB5: History, Models, Differences

All things Aston Martin DB5 on Automobile.

Conner GoldenWriterRM Sotheby'sPhotographer

Aston Martin DB5 Essential History

Long considered one of the most iconic British cars of all time, the Aston Martin DB5 is the follow-up to the highly successful DB4. The DB4 itself set the aesthetic and spiritual framework for Aston that has carried on to today. Compared to the earlier and rather antiquated DB2, DB2/4, and DB Mark III, the 1958-1963 DB4 incorporated then-modern chassis technology and a cutting-edge inline-six developed by famed engineer Tadek Marek—at its weakest produced around 240 hp.

From DB4 to DB5

The DB5 picked up right where the DB4 left off in 1963, incorporating an evolution of the same platform and an updated six-cylinder engine, now enlarged to 4.0 liters and spitting out a very impressive (for the time) 282 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque. Buyers had the choice of either a new five-speed ZF manual transmission (a quick replacement for an early four-speed manual) or a BorgWarner three-speed automatic.

DB5 Vantage

Soon after the DB5's introduction, a high-performance Vantage power package was made available, incorporating hotter cams and upgraded carburetors for a tremendous 325 hp. Only 65 Vantage coupes were made between 1963 and 1965. All this firepower resulted in stellar performance for the era. For the regular DB5 coupe, the 0-60 mph sprint took around eight seconds, and it could carry on to a top speed of 145 mph with the right final drive. Adding the Vantage pack dropped the 0-60 mph time to about 6.5 seconds.

DB5 Coupes & Convertibles

The overwhelming majority of DB5s are coupes, but a small number of convertibles were built before production ended. Just 123 convertibles were built, of which only seven were equipped with the desirable Vantage upgrade.

Aston Martin DB5 Highlights

Even if you're an oil-for-blood automotive enthusiast, there's near zero chance your first exposure to the DB5—or any Aston Martin, really—wasn't through part of the James Bond media franchise. That's the DB5's dirty secret; it's nearly visually and mechanically identical to the preceding DB4, but thanks to clever in-period marketing and its inclusion in the high-profile Bond films Goldfinger and Thunderball, the DB5 was cemented as the de-facto Aston Martin model in history.

This Bondian notoriety, when coupled with stunning beauty and stellar performance, creates a perfect storm of desirability. The DB4, DB5, and DB6 all hold blue-chip collectible status, especially those outfitted with special options and the Vantage power kit. If you consider yourself a major collector, you make room in your garage for at least one mid-century Aston Martin.

Aston Martin DB5 Buying Tips

If you're genuinely in the market for a DB5, it's best practice to pick up the nicest, cleanest example you can find populating the pages of auction dockets from RM Sothebys, Gooding & Co., or Bonhams. These are highly complex cars with prohibitively expensive restoration costs, so eat the time and money you would invest on refreshing one of the few tired examples left and pick up a shiny one—it'll probably save you money and time in the long run.

There are a good number of vintage Aston specialists scattered around the world, and getting a pre-purchase shakedown is extremely important. Common problems include galvanic corrosion between the aluminum body panels and the steel framework underneath, along with rust rotting away the frame rails and chassis components. All DB5s are mechanically stout, though that 4.0-liter six-cylinder can be prone to overheating, so make sure the car has extensive maintenance logs from past owners. This is not a car you buy on a whim; buy smart, or expect to pay out the wazoo later.

Aston Martin DB5 Articles on Automobile

Aston Martin DB5 Recent Auctions

Aston Martin DB5 Quick Facts

  • First year of production: 1963
  • Last year of production: 1965
  • Total production: 1,059
  • Original price: $12,775
  • "The Most Famous Car in the World"
  • Every collection makes space for the Aston Martin DB5

Aston Martin DB5 FAQ

You have questions about the Aston Martin DB5. Automobile has answers. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked DB5 queries.

How many Aston Martin DB5s are left?

Tough to say. However, we're sure a not-insignificant portion of the 1,059 originally produced have been lost over the years to crashes, rust, or fires.

Where is the James Bond Aston Martin DB5?

Good question. In reality, there isn't "one" Bond DB5, as multiple cars were used for each movie they starred in. Also consider the DB5 played bit roles in later films, so we'd estimate there's between five and ten Bond-provenance DB5s in existence. Of those, most are in private hands.

Who designed the Aston Martin DB5?

The masters over at design house and coachbuilders Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera created the painfully pretty lines on the DB5.

How much is the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 worth?

Well, if the recent auction is anything to go by, a touch over $6 million, but that's only if you can find one for sale.

How much is an Aston Martin DB5 worth?

Depending on condition, options, and provenance, expect to pay $600,000 for a clean, well-kept example and close to or over seven figures for a convertible.