Aston Martin DB5 celebrates 60 iconic years

13 September 2023, Gaydon, UK: The world’s most iconic car, the Aston Martin DB5, has turned 60 with Aston Martin leading the celebrations.

September marks exactly 60 years since Aston Martin unveiled its then newcomer. The model going on to become an icon of British culture, design, and innovation. It firmly established Aston Martin as one of Britain’s most desirable luxury brands.

Six decades on, the DB5 continues to be one of the world’s most iconic and recognisable cars. It took center stage at the Goodwood Revival festival in Sussex last weekend. Alongside it was the latest addition to the marque’s revered DB bloodline, the world’s first Super Tourer, DB12. Marking Aston Martin’s proud past and exciting future, the two models have been photographed together. These images were released today to celebrate the landmark anniversary.

Reflecting on the enduring appeal of the DB5 as it marks its 60th anniversary, Aston Martin’s Executive Chairman, Lawrence Stroll – himself a DB5 owner – said: “The David Brown era gave us many great Aston Martin sports cars. None is more recognizable, revered, and desired than the DB5. It laid the foundations of our identity as a British luxury brand synonymous with style, performance, and exclusivity.”

“As this car reaches its 60th anniversary, it’s fitting to pause and reflect on its remarkable contribution to our rich 110-year history. We’re incredibly proud that the DB lineage continues today with the critically acclaimed DB12. Like those that came before it, DB12 is a celebration of all we love about British hand-built sports cars. It combines this tradition with a new injection of the latest technology and the highest levels of performance.”

Sixties Icon

In the year 1963, Aston Martin was riding a wave of popularity, thanks to the consistent success of its DB4 unveiled in 1958. Strong competition from luxury sports car makers both at home and on the continent necessitated something new to keep the brand on top.

Making its official public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1963. The newcomer featured several design, technical, and equipment changes over its predecessor. Most notably, a major engine development delivering even more power justified the use of a name entirely new to the car world of the day. Now, it’s synonymous with the ultimate in style and desirability: DB5.

The saloon was in production at the brand’s Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire factory and headquarters. A convertible with this unmistakable moniker also underwent production for just over two years later. In that time, they set about forging a reputation and fame. Today, this makes them among the most desirable cars of all time.

One fictious owner in particular springs to mind, of course. There’s no doubt that the decision by film-makers EON Productions to put the world’s most well-known secret agent behind the wheel of the new DB5 in a series of James Bond movies. This decision spans over the course of more than half a century. It has cemented its place in the automotive hall of fame. But 007 is far from the only ‘celebrity’ to have been seen behind the wheel of this now iconic Aston Martin.

The Swinging Sixties were about to take off as crowds jostled for a glimpse of the new DB5 in Frankfurt. Within only a few years, many of the most famous actors, pop stars, and celebrities of the day would be counting themselves fortunate to be among the exclusive ranks of Aston Martin ownership.

Celebrated DB5 patrons in the 1960s include The Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger. Master comedian Peter Sellers acquired the model. A plethora of notable names, from Robert Plant and Jay Kay to Elle McPherson and Ralph Lauren, have ensured that saloon and convertible versions of the car alike have rarely left the limelight in the years since.

Indeed, the DB5’s celebrity appeal proved to be a springboard for success. They helped take Aston Martin from niche British sports car maker to global automotive superstar.

This is perhaps even more remarkable when set against the number of cars produced. Originally, they made only 887 DB5 saloons, 123 convertibles, and 12 bespoke coach-built shooting brakes in total. Even by the standards of the day, these numbers were tiny especially with UK car production totaling in excess of 1.8 million in 1963. 

Power and glory 

The DB5 displayed in Germany featured a new 4.0-litre (3,995cc) much reworked version of the 3.7-litre, twin cam, straight six that powered the DB4. The new engine developed what was, then, a distinctly potent 282 bhp in standard form.

That welcome extra power was part of a raft of detailed technical and equipment changes. These changes included the debut of electric windows. Additionally, there was the optional availability of air conditioning, which had been painstakingly engineered to meet increasingly sophisticated and demanding customer expectations.

Performance, an Aston Martin trademark even 60 years ago, was commensurate with the car’s svelte styling. This styling was the product of Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera. The car boasted a top speed exceeding 150 mph, prompting the Aston Martin brochure of the day to claim. “The DB5 is the fastest regular 4-seat GT car in the world.”

That hugely impressive statistic, even today, helped British car magazine The Autocar to conclude in their first road test of the new model. “This is a car which cries out to be driven, to be driven well, and to be driven far.”

This grandest of grand tourers laid the groundwork for the cars that followed. Today’s DB12 – the world’s first Super Tourer. It once again asserts Aston Martin’s position as a leader in performance, dynamics, engineering, and technology.

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