Aston Martins. For enthusiasts and non enthusiasts alike, there’s nothing sexier out there. Because of a certain fictional international man of mystery, Aston Martin will forever be cooler than any other luxury car manufacturer. Now I don’t mean to say that Astons weren’t already good looking before 1964, but “Goldfinger” truly sky rocketed Aston’s reputation and desirability. From then on and for however long the company sticks around, everyone will always – consciously and subconsciously – associate Aston with glamour and excitement. It’s the kind of brand recognition you just can’t buy.
So let’s say you want to enjoy some of this very valuable mystique Aston provides, drive a stunning car that makes you feel like you’re off to solemn, exclusive, fancy event every single time you take it out of the garage…even if you’re just picking up some Cheetos at the 7-Eleven. “But what about the price?” you may be asking. Well, good news! Turns out “pre-owned” (we don’t say “used” anymore…guess pre owned just sounds better, especially in this corner of the market) Astons aren’t quite as pricey as you’d expect. What would be the damage? Let’s find out. For that, we’re focusing on two models, both creations of the genius that is Ian Callum: the DB7 and the DB9.
A perfectly good early DB9 will cost you around 55 to 60 grand which admittedly is a lot of money, but it’s also about a third of the price tag it carried when it was brand new. For the same kind of money you can buy a fresh off the line Cayman or an S5 but…you’d really rather have the Aston wouldn’t you? I know I sure would.
So what’s the DB9 all about? First of all you get an amazing 6.0L V12 capable of hauling that Aston badge from 0 to 60 in little over 4.5 seconds. The car is almost all made of aluminum so it weighs just a bit more than 3700 lbs (1700 kg) and because the engine sits as far back as Aston could place it, the weight distribution is a satisfyingly perfect 50/50. But this isn’t a hardcore sports car, not by a long shot; it is a smooth, comfortable, luxurious Grand Tourer. The interior is meticulously handcrafted with plenty of smooth leather and rich woods like walnut and mahogany. The engine start button is made of crystal because plastic or aluminum simply wouldn’t do.
The luxury and power part is all fine and dandy, but what’s the DB9 like to live with? Surprisingly, the feedback from owners is extremely positive. These are reliable, extremely fun to drive and they’ll make you very popular anywhere you go. The only real complains I could find about them were related to the sat nav which could be quite a bit better and, in some cases, fuel consumption but if you’re considering a V12, you should be prepared to spend a little extra at the pump. I mean, it’s not exactly a surprise that these don’t have Fiat 500 mileage is it?
The DB9 is stunning to look at, properly fast and by most accounts, pleasantly dependable. If British luxury and charm is what you’re craving, this will provide as much of it as you could possibly want. Parts of aren’t cheap of course, maintenance for this kind of car never is, but I was very surprised at the salvaged parts market for these; lots and lots of variety and at slightly less scary prices. Hooray luxury breakers! Of course, since this isn’t exactly a do it yourself kind of ride, you also need to keep in mind garage fees…good thing they seem to be reliable, huh?
The next suggestion certainly isn’t.
Early DB7s should be avoided like the plague. Actually, even more actively then that; try not to be even in the same zip code as one, just to be safe. The DB7 is achingly beautiful. I think the DB9 is a gorgeous car and I like these at least 10 times as much, so it truly is something special. And because the DB7 is one of the most gorgeous man made things on the planet, ever, you may be tempted to go for a cheap early one like we were talking about before. For the love of all that’s good and decent, don’t! The first DB7s were so appallingly made that new owners would lose at least half of the trim on their cars on the drive back home from the dealer alone. Thought out to be the next Jaguar, underneath the fluid, shapely curves of the DB7 hides the basic platform of the XJS, a product of the 1970’s…
Initially featuring a 335bhp straight 6, the Vantage version got an upgrade in power to 420bhp, courtesy of a 5.9L V12. Later, Aston Martin even came up with not only the best DB7, but one of the greatest cars to ever see the light of day: the DB GT. However, since those are extremely rare, we’re gonna focus on the Vantage for now.
Why should you get a DB7? Well, you shouldn’t. Ever. If affordable (using the term lightly, of course) Aston goodness is what you seek, the DB9 is by miles the right choice to make. The DB7 is cramped borderline claustrophobic and at no point will you ever be driving it comfortably. Not only that, but even when it was new it was also already hopelessly outdated and still, after around 10 years in production and even under Ford rule, it was still really badly made. It wasn’t particularly fast either; you’d think so with a V12 and all, but nope.
By now you may be imagining that with all these massive flaws the DB7 has to be considerably cheaper than the DB9…it isn’t. Prices vary widely, but any decent late production ones (circa 2002/3) start at 50 grand and can go all the way up to 80+ depending on gear box, color, condition, etc. So why is this old, cramped, outdated, flawed car so expensive? Just look at it. How extraordinary beautiful the thing is. The DB7 is as charming as a wink and a smile from Kerry Washington and as tempting as a big red button with “do not push” written on it. As a car in the strictest sense of the word, as machinery, it isn’t impressive at all, but as an emotional experience, as moving art…it is absolutely unique.
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