Aston Martin DB6 Buying Guide

Boasting more creature comforts than its illustrious predecessors, the DB6 was the ultimate development of a famous bloodline. Here’s how to buy the best…

Aston Martin DB6 Buying Guide

How much to pay

• Project £160,000-300,000 • Good £200,000-500,000 • Concours £300,000-1,000,000 •

Overview

Practicality ★★★
Running costs ★★
Spares ★★★★
DIY friendly ★★★
Investment ★★★★★
Desirability ★★★★★

The last in Aston Martin’s fabled trio of DB4, 5 and 6 is, for some, the least desirable – but even if that’s true, it’s still very much a relative term. The DB6 may have lacked the 4’s racing pedigree and the 5’s film-star status, but when new it was the choice of 1960s icons such as Twiggy, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger. And, er, Prince Charles.

It was a more grown-up development of the theme – emphatically a grand tourer rather than a sports car – with more luxuries, more weight and more power. The fact that the basic design was starting to show its age matters not a jot now that we’re 50 years down the line. This is still an Aston DB, and it carries with it not only the prestige that goes with that, but also the potentially wallet-wrecking issues. Here’s what to look for.

Your AutoClassics Aston Martin DB6 inspection checklist

Engine

Aston Martin offered the triple-Weber Vantage engine as a no-cost option on the DB6, and hotter camshafts meant it produced 325bhp – the DB5 Vantage had given 314bhp. The 282bhp standard engine still used SU carburettors. For the DB6 Mk2, fuel injection was available for an extra £300 and was fitted to 46 cars in period. However, many have now been converted back to carburettors.

The checks that you’d carry out for the DB4 and 5 also apply to the 6. Tadek Marek’s twin-cam straight-six is reliable and robust, as long as it’s properly looked after and you’re disciplined about servicing schedules.

Make sure that there are no coolant or oil leaks. Pay particular attention to the right-hand side of the block and the bleed holes from the cylinder liners. Any staining or leaks here are bad news. The coolant should be to the correct level, and there should be no signs of coolant and oil mixing.

Also ensure there’s no blue exhaust smoke when you accelerate, and look for oil pressure of 80psi at warm tickover, rising to nearer 100psi at higher revs.

Gearbox

The DB6 was offered with a ZF five-speed manual or a three-speed Borg-Warner automatic gearbox. The latter was an improvement over the DB5’s unit but still not ideally suited to the DB6’s character. It’s possible to fit a modern four-speed ’box if you’re that keen on an auto.

The gearboxes are generally robust, but the manual needs to be warm before smooth shifts become a matter of course. Signs of wear include jumping out of gear on the manual version, and jerky changes on the automatic. Rebuilds aren’t the end of the world, but replacement manual ’boxes are very rare.

Suspension and brakes

When compared with the all-independent Jaguar E-type, the DB6’s set-up was starting to look a bit old-hat by 1965 – front wishbones, coil springs and telescopic dampers, but a live rear axle with lever-arm dampers (adjustable Armstrong Selectarides). Modern coilovers can be fitted on the back if you’re so inclined.

The DB6 MkII was introduced for the final year or so of the model’s life, and employed the slightly wider wheels and tyres from the DBS, housed beneath flared wheelarches. A DB6 should ride well and handle sharply – any sloppiness could be down to worn bushes. Make sure that both these and the gaiters aren’t worn or perished, and that there’s firm rebound in the dampers.

The dual-circuit Girling braking system shouldn’t cause too many problems, while the DB6 added the option of power-assisted steering – it became standard on the MkII.

Bodywork

The DB6’s structure is more different to the DB5's than the 5's is to that of the DB4. The wheelbase was stretched by 3.75in and the roof was raised in order to increase interior space. The upshot of the latter was that Aston dispensed with Touring’s Superleggera construction. Instead of the lightweight tubular frame seen on the DB4 and 5, the DB6’s main structure was topped with a stronger, box-section assembly.

The other major bodywork change was the adoption of a Kamm-style tail with a lip spoiler, as seen on Aston’s Project racers. There are those who prefer the purity of the earlier cars’ rear, but the new design halved aerodynamic lift at speed.

Any bodywork restoration will be extremely costly. Inspect the sills, notably around the jacking points, and check the panel gaps all round. Make sure the doors open and shut correctly.

Check the area around the rear trailing-arm mounts for rust, plus the front and rear valances – electrolytic corrosion can occur where the bumper tubes pass through the aluminium body. The doors feature aluminium skins over a steel frame, and can rot along their bottom edge. Also inspect the boot floor, the base of the bulkhead, the boot lid and the door-hinge mountings.

Interior

The DB6 featured more creature comforts than its predecessors, so make sure that everything works. Air-conditioning was an optional extra, and check that the electric windows operate correctly. The contacts for the motors can corrode if a car is stored for long periods.

Nothing in terms of trim should be beyond the abilities of a specialist. Most DB6s will have been retrimmed at least once by now, so untidy leather is rare. Replacement will be expensive – it’s an Aston, after all – but need not be a deal-breaker.

History

  • 1965: DB6 launched
  • 1966: Updated Volante introduced
  • 1969: MkII with wider tyres, limited-slip diff and optional fuel injection
  • 1970: Production ends

AutoClassics says…

Although it continues to live in the shadow of the DB4 and 5, the DB6 is a refined and surprisingly practical grand tourer. Almost 2000 were built during its five-year production run, far more than either of its predecessors.

Values are generally lower, too – at least when it comes to the fixed-head. The drophead version of the DB6 was the first to use the Volante name, and the initial batch of 37 was built on the shorter DB5 platform. A further 140 DB6 MkI Volantes – complete with powered hood operation – were then produced, plus 38 MkIIs. Such rarity makes them far more valuable than the saloon. Then there are the nine shooting brakes – six by Radford and three by FLM Panelcraft.

A specialist inspection will be invaluable. The last thing you want is to be caught out by something that isn’t as pristine as its shiny exterior would suggest. Bear in mind, too, that project cars are hardly cheap and restoration costs are immense. Add the two together, and you’d likely have been better off paying more for a good example in the first place.

Most importantly, don’t immediately discount the DB6 in favour of a 4 or 5. With its more practical nature, you might find that it’s a much better bet.

Specifications

DB6
  Power 282bhp
  Top speed 148mph
  0-60mph 8secs
  Economy 15mpg

DB6 Vantage
  Power 325bhp
  Top speed 152mph
  0-60mph 7secs
  Economy 14mpg

Picture courtesy of Aston Martin

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