Love Aston Martins? Then here's 70 years worth of DB models, from the first 2-litre Sports to the very latest DB11. What a selection!
It's 70 years since the first of the Aston Martin DB models, even if the very first model only became known as the DB1 retrospectively.
The famous letters stand for David Brown, referring to the British industrialist David Brown who bought the company in 1947. Just under half of all Aston Martin’s produced are adorned the famous letters, and of course it was a DB that was driven by James Bond. DB Astons have also won some of motorsport’s greatest prizes, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Sports Car Championship.
David Brown took over the eponymously titled engineering firm founded by his grandfather in 1860. He built his first car aged just 17 by fitting an engine and gearbox into a chassis he had welded himself. He called the result the ‘Davbro’.
Continuing into a career of engineering and manufacturing, the announcement that David Brown had bought Aston Martin came on Valentine’s Day in 1947. Paying £20,500 for the company, Brown had the facilities, technical know-how and capital needed to create the all new generation of Aston Martins essential to securing the company’s future.
Aston Martin 2-litre Sports 'DB1'
This was first car announced under David Brown’s management, though it was already under development when he arrived. It was launched as the 2-litre Sports in 1948, but from 1950 began to be retrospectively referred to as ‘DB1’. It had been designed during World War 2 using the 2-litre engine by Claude Hill. Just 15 were sold.
Aston Martin DB2
Really it was the DB2 of 1949 that established Aston Martin character and reputation for the post-war generation, realising Brown’s vision for the company; one that exists in scarcely altered form to this day. By buying Lagonda for £52,500, Brown acquired the WO Bentley-designed 2.6-litre twin-cam straight six engine, which was first used in the DB2. The DB2 survived, albeit continually updated, until it was replaced in 1959 by the faster, better looking DB4.
Aston Martin DB2/4 and DB MkIII
Naming conventions were less straightforward back then, but the 1953-57 DB2/5 was really just a 2+2 version of the DB2. A MkII version was introduced, still known as the DB2/4 – but the DB2/4 MkIII became known as the DB Mark III. Well, it's important that you know...
Aston Martin DB4
The DB4 was the first new production Aston Martin to be built on the Newport Pagnell site that the company still occupies to this day. There were five distinct series of DB4 built, as well as the short-wheelbase DB4 GT. Every major component in the DB4 was new, from its 3.7 litre, six-cylinder twin overhead camshaft, all-alloy engine designed by Tadek Marek to the four-seater body built by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, using their 'Superleggera' construction method in which aluminium panels are fixed to a tubular frame built onto a substantial platform chassis.
The DB4 was also the first production car capable of 0-100-0mph in under 30 seconds, and was claimed to reach 100mph in 21 seconds.
Aston Martin DB5
The DB4 was replaced by the DB5 in 1963, the year in which it made its gadget-laden appearance in the third James Bond film Goldfinger. The DB5's engine was enlarged to 4 litres, and utilised three SU carburettors, as fitted to the outgoing DB4 Vantage, and it also shared the latter’s fared in headlamps. The other big change was to the move to a full synchromesh ZF five-speed gearbox.
Aston Martin DB6
The DB5 in turn lasted two short years before the larger, more spacious and comfortable DB6 took over the reins. The most noticeable styling changes on the DB6 were the Kamm tail, which improved high speed stability, the split front and rear bumpers and the higher roof line and longer wheelbase. The larger size made the DB6 a more practical family proposition, and it stayed in production until 1970, eventually selling in far larger numbers than either the DB4 or DB5.
Aston Martin DBS
The William Towns-designed DBS of 1967 was intended to become an additional model to run alongside the DB6, but the V8 engine designed for it wasn't ready on time, and the DBS went on sale powered by the DB6’s six-cylinder engine. The four-cam V8 version was introduced in 1969. The DBS was larger and wider than the DB6, and equipped with a De Dion rear axle.
Aston Martin DB7
Sir David Brown – who had been knighted in 1968 – reluctantly sold Aston Martin in 1972. It would be 23 years before his initials appeared on a new Aston again. After chairman Walter Hayes offered Brown the title of Honorary Life President, Brown granted Aston Martin’s use of his initials once more, for the DB7. Unfortunately, Brown didn’t live to see it after passing in 1993, the year before the model went on sale.
The DB7 was styled by Ian Callum and engineered in conjunction with Tom Walkinshaw's TWR. It was powered by a new TWR-built alloy, twin overhead camshaft, supercharged straight six engine.
Aston Martin DB9
By the time a completely new Aston Martin was ready in 2003 – the first built at its Gaydon headquarters – the advance in technology, quality and performance was so great that Aston Martin jumped the DB8 number and called the new car DB9. The DB9 begat the second DBS and Bond’s first Gaydon-built company car, while the V8 Vantage-based DB10 earned the honour of becoming 007’s first ever fully bespoke road car.
Aston Martin DBS
From 2008 to 2012, the 191mph, 510bhp V12-engined DBS was Aston Martin's flagship model. It was based on the DB9 but with more luxurious interior and lower production numbers. It starred in the Bond films Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale.
Aston Martin DB10
The DB10 was never made as a production car but two were built for the 2014 James Bond film Spectre, based on the then-forthcoming V8 Vantage model.
Aston Martin DB11
With the new DB11 and soon to-be-launched DBS Superleggera, the DB brand continues to form the backbone of Aston Martin’s Second Century Plan. The DB11 is a huge step on from the DB9, and was launched in 2016 with an all-new twin-turbo V12 engine. Now there's a new V8 version too, using a 4-litre Mercedes-AMG twin-turbo V8.
Long live the DB!
Pictures courtesy of AMHT and Aston Martin