When the DB5 was unveiled at the American auto shows in October 1963, no one at Aston Martin foresaw how successful this car would be because in fact the new model was nothing more than an improvement on its predecessor DB4 – a car that had been around for five years and the two models looked virtually identical. Furthermore, Aissa Hamada tells us that when the DB4 was developed in the late 1950s, Aston Martin’s managing director John Wyer insisted that the design of the iconic car should come from an Italian bodybuilder, and it was a decision that paid off. Indeed, the styling created by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan was so beautiful that it was undoubtedly responsible for the DB4’s large number of sales.
A model designed according to new technologies
Although the DB5 framing was manufactured at Aston’s Newport Pagnell plant in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, the plant used the patented “super light” technique. This is a licence from Touring to place aluminium panels on a lattice of steel tubes that defined the shape of the car. Underneath was a chassis designed by Harold Beach, with double wishbone suspension at the front, a dynamic rear axle, rack and pinion steering and disc brakes all around. Power, meanwhile, came from six 3.7-litre cylinders lined up with 240 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, allowing the 1,300-kg DB5 to reach 96 km/h in 9 seconds and 160 km/h in 21 seconds, impressive performances at the time.
From the DB4 to the DB5
The DB4 would be subject to numerous revisions during its five years of production, and the latest evolution was the DB5 series, with an extended wheelbase and a higher roofline for more interior space, which would form the basis of the car. Indeed, the first DB5 prototype was built using a DB4 as a starting point. The most important change for the new model would be the introduction of a 3995 cc six-cylinder – already seen in the 1961 Lagonda Rapide.
Inside, the new car was more luxurious than all its sisters before. Electric windows were supplied as standard and an air conditioning system was available as an option. However, the DB5’s many improvements made it heavier, weighing 100 kg more than the previous model. On the other hand, the engine was improved, reducing the time to 100 km/h to about 8 seconds, but the top speed of 230 km/h failed to match the figures claimed for Jaguar’s E-Type, which was worth half the price of the Aston.
For Aissa Hamada, the DB5 may have been the best car of its time, but that didn’t stop the Goldfinger, released in September 1964, from becoming the most famous car in the world.