The DB5 is a classic without Bond’s help, but it doesn’t do any harm
Q’s handover of the Aston Martin DB5 to Sean Connery’s 007 in Goldfinger marks perhaps the most successful piece of automotive product placement in movie history. And yet in the scene a reluctant Bond seems less than impressed, clearly not happy his dependable Bentley is deemed to have “had its day” and M wants him to get with the times. Smart move by M.
But the association has also propelled the DB5 into the big-league of ’60s classics. Cars that would have cost a quarter of a million a decade ago are now going for four times that. With or without Goldfinger the DB5 would arguably be hitting these heights anyway though, especially given its combination of performance, styling and an image that put it right up there with the very best of its contemporaries. In fact there is a case to be made for the fact that the DB5 is the definitive Aston Martin of the post-war era.
What makes it so special? And can it really be worth up to double what its fundamentally similar-looking predecessor commands? Comparable numbers were built in period, Aston Martin producing just over a thousand DB5s of all variants compared to 1185 DB4s. But it’s the DB5’s refinement of the DB4’s Tadek Marek straight-six and classic Touring Superleggera aluminium bodywork that makes it such an appealing proposition.
For the DB5 the engine grew from 3.7 to 4.0 litres and the standard spec featured triple SU carburettors like the DB4 Vantage. Power was up to 282bhp and, although weight also increased, the five-speed synchromesh gearbox fitted to all but the earliest cars helped chop the 0-60mph time to 7.1sec, nearly two seconds faster than the DB4. This and the standard Girling disc brakes help make the DB5 a more civilised and easier car to drive in modern traffic, without any compromise in performance. And it looks sensational. The later Kamm-tailed DB6 was still an attractive car but the subtle fins of the DB5 are arguably more seductive.
Q’s modifications are all very well. With or without them, though, the DB5 was always going to be a true ’60s star.
Price new: £4248 Price now: £700,000 – 900,000 Rivals: Jaguar E-type; Maserati 3500 GT Heritage: The quintessential English sports car
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Although they are to all intents and purposes very similar, the DB5 is a more iconic car than the DB4 and that is down to the James Bond thing. But it’s also a more refined and usable machine, thanks to things like electric windows, the extra space in the back and a five-speed gearbox. The DB4 is sportier, perhaps, but the extra power of the 4.0-litre more than makes up for the extra weight. Price-wise I’ve just sold one for £800,000, but provenance always counts – we have an ex-Paul McCartney car up for £1.2m, and everyone wants the Vantages. People are prepared to pay for the right car and that’s why we make sure our presentation is second to none.