DB5 Model Guide

With its blend of timeless style, stirring performance and effortless charisma, no other car exudes Aston-ness more perfectly than a DB5. Here’s everything you need to know about this 1960s icon.


One way to think of the DB5 is as the ultimate evolution of the DB4. Which, for many people’s money, makes it the ultimate evolution of the most important car in Aston Martin’s history. It was the DB4, after all, that introduced Aston’s immortal straight-six engine and the fabulous, Touring-penned lines that instantly made Aston Martin one of the most desired marques in the world. The DB4 would be the touchstone for everything that followed.

Aston historians will tell you how the DB4 passed through five distinct series, each gaining in detail improvements and refinement. And, visually at least, the DB5 was a dead ringer for the series 5 DB4 Vantage. 

So why wasn’t this next evolutionary step simply a series 6 DB4?

It very nearly was, but the management decided that the new car was enough of a departure to justify being renamed, which doubtless kept the marketing men happy. And so, in July 1963, the new model was launched, and it was called DB5.

DB5 at twlight
db5 Engine

About the DB5

​It was distinguished from late versions of the DB4 chiefly by the introduction of a new, 4-litre version of the all-alloy Tadek Marek-designed straight-six in place of the DB4’s 3.7-litre unit. Power in standard form, with triple SU HD8 carburettors, was quoted as 282bhp (up from the standard DB4’s 240bhp). From September 1964, customers were also offered the Vantage engine option, which meant triple Weber 45DCOEs, a higher compression ratio and a claimed 314bhp. Importantly, both offered usefully more torque than the outgoing engine.

Magazine road testers recorded 0-60mph times as low as 7.1sec for the standard car, and a top speed of around 140mph (6.5sec and 150mph for the Vantage). Nothing to write home about today, but in 1963 only V12-engined Italians were quicker. The price in the UK (including taxes) was £4175 – or around £92,000 in today’s money.

The DB5 also introduced the option of a five-speed ZF gearbox (quite a novelty at the time), which quickly became standard equipment in place of the previous David Brown four-speeder. Other hardware changes included the introduction of an alternator instead of a dynamo, tweaks to the suspension geometry, and dual-circuit Girling disc brakes with twin servos – a significant improvement on the old Dunlop system.

There were lots of smaller but still significant changes, many of which hinted that the Aston was subtly changing in character. Standard kit now included Triplex Sundym tinted glass and electric windows; options now included air conditioning and a BorgWarner automatic gearbox. There were four instead of two exhaust silencers for added refinement.

It all added up to a more rounded, more capable and more sophisticated car than the DB4, albeit a heavier one (by a hefty 113kg), with the balance shifting further from sports to GT car. While clearly evolved from the DB4, the DB5 was very much its own thing.

DB5 Production History

For the definitive production figures, we turn to Tim Cottingham , registrar of the Aston Martin Heritage Trust. According to the Trust’s records, 899 coupés – or Saloons in period Aston parlance – left the Newport Pagnell factory in the two-and-a-bit years the DB5 was in production.

The vast majority of DB5s had the ZF five-speed manual gearbox. Only around 40 had the four-speed DB unit carried over from the DB4, and fewer still (around 20) the Borg-Warner three-speed auto – and many of those have since been converted to manuals.

Unlike with the DB4, there were only a few, small changes during the DB5’s production run. The ‘DB5’ badges on the wings and bootlid, for example, weren’t present on the earliest cars; the headlight surrounds gained a little extra embellishment. But basically it was unchanged.

DB5 Convertible

​A Convertible version – not yet called a Volante at this stage – joined the range soon after the launch of the Saloon but was always a rare machine. 

A grand total of 123 were sold. 

Rarest of the variants was the Shooting Brake. Just 12 were built – or rather rebuilt, because each started its life as a Saloon.

DB5 Convertible
DB5 Vantage

DB5 Vantage

​Vantage versions of all variants were really rare. 

According to Tim, only around 60 Saloons left the factory with the uprated engine, probably as few as eight Convertibles and a solitary ’Brake. Many standard cars have, however, been converted to Vantage spec

Over the years – a V suffix in the engine number on the original build sheet is the evidence that it was a Vantage when it left the factory.

DB5 Shooting Brake

The Shooting Brake is an intriguing machine. It came about because David Brown himself needed space to carry his sporting paraphernalia – he was a keen polo player and huntsman – and so asked the factory to create a DB5 estate car for his personal use. When customers and business associates saw the result, a number decided they’d like one, too. But the factory was already at full stretch building Saloons and Convertibles, so Brown did a deal with Hammersmith based Harold Radford Ltd to body the estate version. It was advertised as ‘The World’s Fastest Dual Purpose Vehicle’.

With each ’Brake beginning its life as a completed Saloon, it meant extensive reworking of the upper structure and body – basically everything from the A-pillars backwards. The work added a daunting 50 per cent to the already formidable price of the Saloon, which probably explains why just 12 were built.

The real ‘unicorn’ among DB5s, though, is chassis number 1567/L – the only one fitted with a 4-litre ‘GT’ engine, complete with two spark plugs per cylinder in the style of the earlier DB4 GT road-racers. Now, that’s a real Q-car.

DB5 Shooting Brake

The View from The Showroom

By Neal Garrard - Commercial Director at Nicholas Mee & Co.

If we put rarities like the DB4 GT and its exotic Zagato sibling to one side, of all Aston Martin’s classic road cars, the DB5 is easily the most sought-after and the most highly prized.

In a way, this has little to do with the car itself. After all, as you’ll have read, the DB5 was really just the final evolution of the DB4 series that had begun in 1958. But a DB5 might well fetch 50 per cent more than a DB4 and more than double the price of a DB6 in similar condition.

Neal Garrard Commercial Director at Nicholas Mee
Neal Garrard Commercial Director at Nicholas Mee

The Premium Bond Connection

​The Bond connection obviously accounts for a lot of that premium (the Premium Bond, one might call it). Neal Garrard reports that when No Time to Die was released at cinemas, the team at Nicholas Mee & Co had been fielding as many as four or five DB5 inquiries a week.

‘The model appeals not only to Aston Martin enthusiasts; it fascinates general classic car collectors the world over,’ says Neal. ‘Ask any grown man to scribble down his 10-car dream garage list and there is a very good chance that a DB5 will feature on it.’ And everyone, it seems, wants a DB5 in Silver Birch.

‘There’s undoubtedly a 15-20 per cent premium for a silver car,’ continues Neal. ‘which means that in the current market, while you can generally expect to pay £600,000+ for a nice, smart DB5 in good working condition with history and paperwork, a silver DB5

saloon is in the region of £800,000 for a top, restored car.’

It explains why so many have been repainted and retrimmed over the years. AMHT registrar Tim Cottingham reveals that just 127 were painted Silver Birch when they left the factory, and none of the first 100 cars. Contrast that with today, when he estimates that at least half of them are silver.

It can be rather refreshing to see a DB5 in something other than Silver Birch. Dubonnet Rosso was popular in period and still looks good today. Caribbean Pearl and California Sage also suit the DB5 well. Other colours were very much of their time. One that was popular in period was Autumn Gold, often paired with red hide (indeed the first Corgi model of the 007 DB5 used just such a colour scheme). Practically all of those have been repainted – and you can probably guess which colour.

The DB5 was ultimately built in tiny numbers

So the Bond Effect shows no signs of waning. But there’s another factor at play in the DB5’s consistently strong values.

While Goldfinger stoked up demand and filled the order books, Astons of this era were still built in tiny numbers. And the DB5’s production run lasted only from July 1963 to September 1965 – barely more than two years. In that time a grand total of just 1022 were built across all variants (compare that with 1284 DB4s and 1567 DB6s – or 7000-plus DB7s!).

It’s a classic case of supply and demand. While the DB5’s glamour and the whole Bond thing provide the demand, the supply is always going to be limited.

Speaking of which… With only 123 built, it’s no surprise that the DB5 Convertible commands such high prices today. Reckon on £1 million-plus for a ‘regular’ Convertible, as much as £1.5m for a Vantage, says Neal. ‘But don’t hold your breath, as they seldom come up for sale and often take pride of place in the world’s best garages alongside McLaren F1s and Ferrari 250 GTs.’

Aston Martin DB5 Logo close up on car
The Engine in a DB5 Car

The Current DB5 Market

One trend that has gathered momentum since 2020 and the pandemic is the increasing polarisation between DB5s in original condition or with an older (20+ years) restoration and cars that have had work done recently to the highest standard by the best ‘name’ restorers in the UK.

‘Rightly, in our opinion, buyers are gravitating to the latter,’ says Neal. ‘The gulf between values is ever widening. The reason is simple: a good restoration costs many hundreds of thousands, and takes years. A car that is totally on-point and ready to go for immediate enjoyment is the way most buyers want to go today.’

Of course, Aston Martin itself has been making DB5 ‘Continuation Cars’. ‘Clearly, these have a place,’ says Neal, ‘and the world of collecting is a broad church. Technically they are not road legal, but are equipped with an array of gadgets that were designed and engineered in conjunction with the 007 franchise special effects team. But many love the experience of buying a ‘new’ DB5 from The Factory in Tickford St, Newport Pagnell.

‘To respond to the dreaded ‘investment?’ question on these models we hesitate, only commenting that the best possible original DB5, matching numbers from 1964-1965 and restored by the handful of UK companies good enough to do the job, can be bought for comfortably under £1million.

‘So, where does that leave a ‘Continuation’ on the second-hand market when it cost far in excess of that when new? More to the point, where does it leave its first owner? Probably not in a comfortable place.’

DB5's Currently in our Showroom

Nicholas Mee & Company offer the finest selection of Pre Owned Aston Martin Cars for Sale at our showroom at Essendonbury Farm, conveniently located in Hertfordshire. As a Specialist Aston Martin Dealer, we pride ourselves in offering the highest quality Used cars from the Aston Martin Marque to car enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Restoration and Running Costs for a DB5

By Chris Green - Service and Aftercare Manager at Nicholas Mee

Most leading specialists charge £300,000 and upwards for a full restoration (and with inflation at current levels, expect that figure to rise even more). That’s a big investment, but with a car as potentially valuable as a DB5, you absolutely wouldn’t want to cut corners.

A top class restoration is all in the details. There should be no cross-head screws in a DB5, for example; only slot-head ones. And under the bonnet and all around the aluminium facing panels in the door-shuts there should be tiny cup-washers under those screw heads.

Similarly, the gaps between all the body panels should be narrow and perfect; how snugly and consistently the rims for the headlight covers abut to the openings in the front wings is a good indicator of correctness and care.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the body itself and the structure beneath it that accounts for most of the restoration costs – and could present you with major expense if remedial work is required. Anywhere that the steel structure meets the aluminium skin has potential for electrolytic corrosion. Bubbling is a sure sign of problems beneath, but it’s also possible to remove the cover plates in the ends of the sills – and elsewhere – to check for the dreaded rot within.

All the mechanical elements can be rebuilt or recreated. The engine is fundamentally strong, but corrosion can attack the aluminium over the years. The good news is that the original block can usually be retained but with new, uprated internals and often a capacity increase from 4.0 to 4.2 litres. Needless to say, none of this comes cheap.

It certainly doesn’t pay to skimp on servicing. Today, for most DB5s, maintenance starts with an annual service and inspection, regardless of mileage. ‘According to our Fixed Price Servicing menu, a small service is £845 including VAT and the major service for a DB5 is priced at a relatively modest £2310 including VAT,’ says Chris Green.

‘Any additional costs that might arise are directly related to the amount of use the car is getting… Like any car, DB5s are best with regular use.’

Chris Green Service and Aftercare Manager at Nicholas Mee
Chris Green Service and Aftercare Manager at Nicholas Mee

Pictures of the interior of an Aston Martin DB5

interior of DB5
Interior of DB5 Convertible
DB5 Dashboard

Driving a DB5 Today

By Peter Tomalin - EVO Magazine Motoring Journalist

Dropping down into the leather chair and running your fingers around the broad, wood-rimmed steering wheel of a DB5 is always a special moment. The view forward – of the classic Aston dash, its painted metal face inset with those timeless Smiths dials, the long bonnet with its raised wing-tops beyond – is a key part of what makes a DB Aston of this period so very appealing.

Twist the tiny key in the centre of the dash and after a few moments’ churning, the classic straight-six bursts into vivid life, the heart and soul of the car. Even the regular DB5 is plenty quick enough to run with modern traffic – on triple SU carburettors, the big six is wonderfully smooth, tractable and dripping in character. The Weber carbs of the Vantage version bring an added edge to proceedings – they require a little more throttle sensitivity on behalf of the driver, but they reward with an extra shot of urgency to the power delivery and a throatier roar to the soundtrack.

Driving the Aston Martin DB5 Vantage & Convertible

​Drive a well set-up DB5 Vantage and it pulls with real vigour, sounding as purposeful and classy as a Weberfed Marek straight-six Aston always should. It really is a wonderful engine in this form – its outputs swelling as the rich, brassy soundtrack reaches its crescendo – and it works beautifully with the weighty precision of the five-speed ZF manual gearbox (though some aficionados prefer the more delicate-feeling DB four-speeder).

Sure, it’s a more physical experience than any modern car, and at parking speeds the standard steering takes a bit of effort. But once you’re on the move it lightens agreeably and you can focus on the business of making swift progress with an economy of effort; slicing the gear lever around the gate; nudging the nose into turns with a rock of the shoulders; keeping the throttles clear and the straight-six singing.

The disc brakes require a firm push, but they are more than adequate for this sort of work; only in the suspension department does a period-authentic DB5 really betray its age, with crumbling, pot-holed tarmac sending thumps and shivers through the body. Unsurprisingly, this is exaggerated in the Convertible, which inevitably – and palpably – has the least stiff structure, though the payoff for having no roof is that the sounds of shudders and shakes are carried away in your slipstream. And there’s no denying the added glamour of the drop-top, surely among the most coveted of all post-war British cars. 

Aston Martin DB5 Convertible
Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake

Driving the Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake

​That said, there’s something undeniably cool about the Shooting Brake and its combination of performance and utility. It’s a genuinely practical machine, too: there’s more headroom for rear seat passengers than in a coupé and opening the single-piece tailgate reveals a decent load area for weekend luggage. Flip the rear seat-backs down and there’s even more.

There was only a little additional weight in the ’Brake compared with the coupé, and the chassis was completely unchanged, so it’s no surprise that the driving experience is essentially the same – although retaining the coupé’s springs and dampers would have limited the loads that could have been transported without implications for the handling.

The DB5 can be made better still!

Whichever the derivative, there’s no question that a completely original DB5 is a lovely period piece and a rewarding car to drive, but it can be made better still. Bond’s isn’t the only DB5 with modifications…

In recent times, many have undergone subtle upgrades in the course of restoration, including the popular capacity increase to 4.2 litres for superior power and torque, uprated brakes, better engine cooling, improved insulation to stop powertrain heat from soaking through to the cabin, and switchable electric assistance for the steering.

Done well and sympathetically, none of these things need detract from the character of the car, while making any DB5 much more useable in 21st century traffic conditions. And since a well-sorted DB5 is such a pleasurable device to drive, that can only be a good thing.

The Bond Connection

Hard to believe now, but the management at Aston Martin were initially reluctant to supply a car to Eon Productions when filming began on Goldfinger, the third film in the Bond franchise.

Happily for everyone concerned, they eventually relented and in early 1964 released the by-then surplus four-speed DB5 prototype, DP216/1, at that time still painted in its original Dubonnet Rosso. Kitted out with Ken Adam’s famous gadgets, it was resprayed in Silver Birch and given the registration BMT 216A…

Soon after, Aston also loaned Eon a standard production-spec five-speed DB5 for the regular driving scenes. Respectively known as The Effects Car and The Road Car, the two would soon become the stuff of Aston – and movie – legend. Goldfinger had its cinema release in the autumn of 1964, and it was immediately clear that Connery’s suave, steely Bond and Aston’s glamorous DB5 were perfectly matched.

In the movie, our first glimpse of 007’s new company car comes – where else – in the workshops of Q Branch. ‘Where’s my Bentley?’ Bond asks Q. ‘Oh, it’s had its day, I’m afraid,’ comes the reply. ‘Well, it’s never let me down,’ murmurs Bond. ‘M’s orders, 007. You’ll be using this Aston Martin DB5 with modifications. Now pay attention please…’

The shots of Connery driving the Aston on the Furka Pass, high in the Swiss Alps, would become as engrained in the memory of car-mad movie watchers as the Lamborghini Miura in the opening sequence of The Italian Job a few years later. Indeed, the Bond Aston was such a hit that the DB5 was deployed again for the following year’s Thunderball. A star had well and truly been born, and the glamour, the danger, the timeless cool of early Bond would forever be woven tightly into the Aston Martin DNA.

Over the ensuing decades, Bond would have dalliances with a number of other cars – other Astons included – but he never looked better than behind the wheel of a DB5. The producers knew it – which was why Pierce Brosnan’s OO7 found himself back behind the wheel of the 1960s classic for 1995’s GoldenEye and the followup Tomorrow Never Dies.

And when Daniel Craig’s Bond pulled open the doors of his lock-up to reveal his beloved DB5 in Skyfall, cinema audiences actually cheered. The two would star again in Spectre, and finally in No Time to Die, with one or two exciting new modifications…

James Bond with an Aston Martin DB5 Car

The iconic Silver Birch Aston Martin DB5

1965 Aston Martin DB5 in Silver Birch
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