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Motoring: Aston Martin DB4 - 1958

Aston Martin stunned the world at the 1958 London Motor Show when it unveiled the all new DB4 (above), the first of three classic British sports cars to wear the DB moniker in the 1960s. Demand was strong for this sleek, Italian styled GT but production couldn't be hurried. The DB4 was the first Aston Martin to be fully manufactured in the former Salmons (and Tickfords) Coachbuilding Works in the Buckinghamshire town of Newport Pagnell. Unfortunately the early cars suffered overheating problems from the Tadek Marek designed twin overhead cam, 3.7 litre, straight six engine which was eventually solved by constant evolution which typified the model.

A shortened, lightened and tuned DB4 GT was popular with the racing fraternity which spawned the ultra-rare and achingly beautiful DB4GT Zagato. A wonderful DB4 convertible was also eventually offered plus the DB4 derived four door Lagonda Rapide. David Brown so wanted a Lagonda saloon in the range but it's production was spasmodic and to special order only, as the factory was geared up to DB4 production. The Lagonda marque became dormant again in 1964 after production of the Rapide ceased.

In 1964, the DB4 evolved to be come the 4 litre DB5 , made famous by 007 James Bond himself in the films Goldfinger and Thunderball. The specially adapted Silver Birch DB5 prototype became the most famous and desirable car in the world. There was no way the factory could keep up with the phenomenal demand fuelled by the films. Even today, 007 and Aston Martin are inseparable. Demand for DB5's is still far in excess of the other similar models and prices reflect this. Everyone still wants to be James Bond in a silver DB5 with black interior. But for those who's pockets couldn't stretch to the real thing, the Corgi scale model of the 007 James Bond DB5 has become the most popular die cast toy car of all time. The Silver Birch DB5 has now appeared in four Bond films including the most recent, Casino Royale.

The Kamm tailed DB6 (below) was introduced in 1966 with better rear seat accommodation in an effort to increase sales to those in need of a full 4 seater. But due to an economic slowdown at the time, demand slumped and many unsold cars awaited owners, stockpiled at the factory. The DB6 is an ideal first Aston Martin, a practical Grand Tourer, stylish but less expensive than a DB5. An improved Mark 2 version of the DB6 was introduced late in 1969, although production only lasted for a little over a year.

Aston Martin DB5

In 1965, the convertible version was updated and became the 'Volante'; exceptionally stylish, open top motoring for the select few. From the production run of the DB4/5/6, convertibles only made up around one in every ten cars built. Consequently, values of these cars far exceeds those of the closed cars. A larger, full four seater car, the DBS was first shown in 1967. Although it was intended to carry the V8 engine, it wasn't ready in time so car was released with the familiar six cylinder unit. But with increased weight, performance suffered against the DB6. Work on the DBS began in 1966, a year that saw Aston s fortunes at a low ebb. This styling assignment was handed to the ambitious young William Towns, who d been hired at Newport Pagnell only to design seats.

Aston-Martin DB4 Cabriolet

Aston-Martin DB4 Cabriolet

Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, 1961

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