Aston Martin proudly celebrates the 60th anniversary of its legendary car, the Aston Martin DB5.
Exactly six decades ago, Aston Martin introduced the DB5, a vehicle that would go on to epitomize British culture, design, and innovation, solidifying the brand’s position as one of the most coveted luxury names in Britain. Today, the DB5 remains a symbol of iconic status and global recognition, showcasing its enduring appeal.
During the recent Goodwood Revival festival in Sussex, the DB5 took center stage, sharing the spotlight with the latest addition to Aston Martin’s esteemed DB series, the revolutionary DB12, the world’s first Super Tourer. This event not only celebrated Aston Martin’s rich history but also marked an exciting glimpse into the brand’s future.
In 1963, Aston Martin found itself at the peak of its popularity, thanks to the consistent success of its DB4 model introduced in 1958. However, facing fierce competition from luxury sports car manufacturers, Aston Martin needed something fresh to maintain its position as a top contender in the market.
The answer came in the form of the DB5, which made its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1963. This newcomer featured significant design, technical, and equipment enhancements over its predecessor, including a major engine development that boosted its power. The decision to christen it the DB5 marked a bold departure, establishing a name that would soon become synonymous with unparalleled style and desirability.
Manufactured at Aston Martin’s Newport Pagnell factory in Buckinghamshire, both the saloon and later the convertible versions bearing the DB5 nameplate were in production for just over two years. However, in that brief span, they managed to build a reputation and fame that endure to this day, making them some of the most coveted cars in history.
One notable fictional owner, James Bond, played a pivotal role in the DB5’s iconic status. EON Productions’ choice to feature the world’s most famous secret agent driving the DB5 in several Bond films over more than fifty years solidified its place in automotive history. Yet, 007 was not the only celebrity associated with this legendary Aston Martin.
The arrival of the DB5 coincided with the Swinging Sixties, a period that saw a surge in its popularity. Many renowned actors, pop stars, and celebrities of the time considered themselves fortunate to own an Aston Martin. Notable figures such as Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison from The Beatles, Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones, and comedian Peter Sellers all acquired the DB5. Over the years, a plethora of famous names, from Robert Plant and Jay Kay to Elle McPherson and Ralph Lauren, ensured that both the saloon and convertible versions of the car remained in the spotlight.
What makes the DB5’s journey even more remarkable is the limited number of units produced. Only 887 DB5 saloons, 123 convertibles, and 12 custom-built shooting brakes were originally made. These figures, even by the standards of the time, were incredibly small, especially considering that the total UK car production exceeded 1.8 million in 1963. Despite its rarity, the DB5’s celebrity appeal propelled Aston Martin from a niche British sports car maker to a global automotive superstar.
The DB5 showcased in Germany featured a significantly enhanced 4.0-liter (3,995cc) version of the 3.7-liter twin-cam straight-six engine that powered its predecessor, the DB4. This new engine delivered a potent 282 bhp in its standard configuration, a notable increase in power.
This boost in power was just one of the many meticulous technical and equipment enhancements introduced, including the introduction of electric windows and the optional availability of air conditioning. These changes were carefully engineered to meet the growing demands and expectations of the increasingly sophisticated customer base.
Performance, a hallmark of Aston Martin even six decades ago, perfectly complemented the car’s sleek design, crafted by the renowned Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera. The DB5 boasted a top speed exceeding 150 mph, leading the Aston Martin brochure of the time to boldly claim: “The DB5 is the fastest regular 4-seat GT car in the world.”
This impressive feat, even by today’s standards, left a lasting impression. British car magazine The Autocar, in their initial road test of the new model, declared, “this is a car that demands to be driven, to be driven well, and to be driven for long distances.”
This luxurious grand tourer not only set new standards but also laid the foundation for the generations of cars that followed. Today’s DB12, hailed as the world’s first Super Tourer, reaffirms Aston Martin’s reputation as a leader in performance, dynamics, engineering, and technology, building upon the legacy established by the iconic DB5.