Celebrating six decades of an automotive icon
The Manila Times
EXACTLY six decades ago in September, Aston Martin unveiled the DB5, initiating a journey that would transform this automobile into a British cultural icon, a symbol of design and innovation, and the epitome of luxury. Through the enduring legacy of the DB5, Aston Martin secured its position as one of Britain’s most coveted luxury brands. Sixty years later, the DB5 remains one of the world’s most iconic and recognizable cars. Recently, it took center stage at the Goodwood Revival festival in Sussex alongside the latest addition to the DB lineage, the world’s first Super Tourer, the DB12. Aston Martin commemorates this milestone anniversary with a collection of images featuring these two remarkable models. Reflecting on the DB5’s enduring appeal as it reaches its 60th anniversary, Aston Martin Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll, who himself is a proud DB5 owner, stated: “The David Brown era gifted us a treasure trove of Aston Martin sports cars, but none are as instantly recognizable, revered and coveted as the DB5. This model laid the foundations for our identity as a British luxury brand synonymous with style, performance and exclusivity.” “As we celebrate its 60th birthday, we pause to reflect on the incredible role this car has played in our storied 110-year heritage. We take immense pride in the fact that the DB lineage continues today with the critically acclaimed DB12. Like its predecessors, it embodies everything we cherish about handcrafted British sports cars, infused with cutting-edge technology and the highest levels of performance,” Stroll added. The iconic 60s In 1963, Aston Martin, buoyed by the success of the DB4 since its 1958 debut, sought a new chapter in its history. Faced with fierce competition from luxury sports car manufacturers, both domestic and international, Aston Martin needed a game changer. The DB5 made its public debut at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show, introducing numerous design, technical and equipment enhancements compared to its predecessor. Most notably, a substantial engine upgrade delivered even more power, justifying the birth of a name that would soon become synonymous with unparalleled style and desirability: DB5. For a little over two years, the DB5 saloon and later the convertible were crafted at the Newport Pagnell factory in Buckinghamshire, solidifying their reputation as some of the most coveted automobiles of all time. While the legendary secret agent James Bond prominently featured the DB5 in a series of movies spanning over half a century, it’s important to remember that 007 was not the only movie figure to embrace this iconic Aston Martin. The Swinging Sixties marked the DB5’s ascent, with famous actors, pop stars, and celebrities joining the exclusive ranks of Aston Martin ownership. Notable DB5 patrons in the 1960s included Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison of The Beatles, as well as Rolling Stone Mick Jagger. Comedic genius Peter Sellers also became a proud owner. Over the years, luminaries like Robert Plant, Jay Kay, Elle McPherson, and Ralph Lauren ensured that both saloon and convertible versions of the DB5 remained in the limelight. The DB5’s magnetic appeal propelled Aston Martin from a niche British sports car manufacturer to a global automotive sensation, a remarkable feat considering the limited production numbers. Originally, only 887 DB5 saloons, 123 convertibles, and 12 bespoke coach-built shooting brakes were manufactured. In the context of 1963’s total UK car production exceeding 1.8 million units, these figures were exceptionally exclusive. Power and prestige The DB5 showcased in Germany featured a revamped 4.0-liter (3,995cc) version of the 3.7-liter, twin-cam, straight-six engine that powered the DB4. This new engine produced a robust 282 bhp in its standard configuration, a significant increase in power. It was part of a comprehensive series of technical and equipment enhancements, including the introduction of electric windows and the availability of optional air-conditioning, meticulously engineered to meet the evolving demands of discerning customers. Performance, a hallmark of Aston Martin, was in perfect harmony with the car’s elegant styling, crafted by the famed Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera. With a top speed surpassing 150 mph, the Aston Martin brochure proudly declared “The DB5 is the fastest regular four-seat GT car in the world.” This impressive feat, even by today’s standards, prompted British automotive magazine The Autocar to conclude in their initial road test of the new model: “This is a car that cries out to be driven, to be driven well, and to be driven far.” This grandest of grand tourers laid the foundation for the vehicles that followed, with today’s DB12, the world’s first Super Tourer, reaffirming Aston Martin’s leadership in performance, dynamics, engineering and technology.