'More and more cars today reach the magical "ton" but those which can do it with the same ease and rapidity of the Aston can be counted on the fingers of one hand. High-speed stability and safety is not cheap to engineer, and with few people to pay the price, production costs are never reduced by the quantity of the work. The DB5 therefore fills a unique corner of the market, a corner at the top end both in the way it performs and the price one pays for the privilege.' Autocar, 18th September 1964.
Introduced in 1963, the DB5 was a development of the preceding DB4 that had represented such a giant step forward in Aston Martin's post-war evolution on its arrival in 1958. Classically proportioned, the Touring-designed body established an instantly recognisable look that would stand the marque in good stead until 1970. The DB4's engine was still an all-alloy twin-overhead-camshaft 'six' but the old W O Bentley-designed 3.0-litre unit had been superseded by a new design by Tadek Marek. Proven in racing before it entered production in the DB4, the new 3,670cc engine featured 'square' bore and stroke dimensions of 92x92mm and developed its maximum power of 240bhp at 5,500rpm. The David Brown gearbox was a new four-speed all-synchromesh unit.
Touring's Superleggera body construction, which employed a lightweight tubular structure to support the aluminium-alloy body panels, was deemed incompatible with the DB2/4-type multi-tubular spaceframe, so engineer Harold Beach drew up an immensely-strong platform-type chassis. Independent front suspension was retained, the DB2/4's trailing links giving way to unequal-length wishbones, while at the rear the DB4 sported a live axle located by a Watts linkage instead of its predecessor's Panhard rod. Five series were built as the model gradually metamorphosed into the DB5. The latter's distinctive cowled headlamps had first appeared on the DB4GT and the newcomer was the same size as the lengthened Series V DB4. The DB5's 3,995cc engine, first seen in the Lagonda Rapide, produced 282bhp and was mated to a four-speed, overdrive-equipped gearbox, a 'proper' ZF five-speed unit being standardised later. Other improvements included alternator electrics, Girling disc brakes instead of Dunlops, Sundym glass, electric windows and an oil pressure gauge as standard equipment. The DB5 was also offered in convertible form (the 'Volante' name would not be applied to the soft-top Aston until the DB6's arrival) while independent coachbuilder Harold Radford offered a shooting brake conversion. 1,021 DB5s were manufactured between July 1963 and September 1965, a total that included a mere 123 convertibles and 12 shooting brakes.
A desirable, manual transmission, matching numbers car, '236 GDA' was acquired by the current owner in 2008 from Mr Michael Beresford-West QC via Nicholas Mee & Co, the London based specialist Aston Martin Heritage dealer. While in Mr Beresford-West's ownership, the car participated in the 1995 Louis Vuitton Concours d'Élegance at the Hurlingham Club, West London.
Since acquisition, the DB5 has formed part of a large collection of motor cars, with a principal leaning towards the Aston Martin marque. It has shared a garage with a DB4GT as well as pre-war, Feltham, and Newport Pagnell DB and V8 models, with ongoing maintenance undertaken by the resident engineer. The body is generally very straight with good panel fit, while the re-spray undertaken in 1995 is holding up very well. The gently patinated interior is also in good order and the under-bonnet area all present and correct, though the latter would benefit from detailing. '236 GDA' started readily and drove well on a recent test drive. Having formed part of an extensive collection, mileage has naturally been limited. At the time of cataloguing, the odometer reading stood at 90,265 with past MoT certificates from 2004 (at 90,040 miles) and 1982 (59,506).
Finished in red with black interior and matching hood and bag, the Aston is best described as one that has been extensively restored to a high standard but has since mellowed into a true driver's car. It is ready to be enjoyed now or, with a relatively modest outlay, may be improved to a very high standard. The car comes with a nicely presented ring-bound file containing the V5C registration document; a current MoT as well as the aforementioned certificates; and sundry correspondence and invoices dating back to 1982 from Aston Martin Works Service, Nicholas Mee and Hyde Vale.
The DB5 Convertible represents one of the most rare and sought after models of the marque.