Recently, we had the opportunity to find a new owner for one of the marque’s most significant cars: the extended wheelbase DB5 created by the experimental department at Newport Pagnell in 1965 to test not only the new V8, but also the practicalities of a de Dion rear suspension set-up. Bearing the chassis number 001/D/P, the car was masterminded by in-house engineer Bill Bannard, later to become the company’s engineering director. In a fascinating interview recorded on video earlier this year, Nick chatted with Bill about how the development car came about, and the “good, bad and otherwise” memories of driving 350 miles a day in his “baby”.​ 

David Brown wanted a bigger and faster car than the DB4, one capable of carrying four people and their luggage in comfort on long journeys in Europe and the US. Enter a new four-cam V8 of around five litres, capable of an easy 350bhp, designed by Polish genius Tadek Marek that was on the test bed at Newport Pagnell in the early 1960s. By 1965, early examples were ready for running in road cars. 

But first the new unit had to be fitted to a test ‘mule’, then thoroughly put through its paces on the lanes and A-roads of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. Also, the company wanted to evaluate a de Dion set-up at the rear, a configuration it had tried on the 1962 Le Mans car and in the short-lived Lagonda Rapide. It was considered a better solution to the arrival of the increasing wider and flatter-profile tyres of the 1960s. Bannard and his team also lengthened the chassis by 4in to allow for both the V8 engine and its exhausts and silencer boxes, and all-new rear suspension.

Watch our video of Nick chatting to Bill Bannard about his time developing this exciting car, the beautifully restored DB5 V8 on the move and the new owner collecting it from Essendonbury Farm. It’s a fascinating film that really brings history alive.

You can also read the full story in Issue 31 Spring/Summer 2022 of our FullBore E-magazine.


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