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A Star is Born

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From the earliest days of Hollywood and the film business, cars have been an integral part of the film set, sometimes even grabbing a starring role. However, throughout all the years, few, if any, cars have grabbed the audience’s attention in the manner that the Aston Martin DB5 did in the James Bond blockbuster, “Goldfinger.”

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Back in 1964 the concept of a car that featured an ejector seat, revolving number plates, a bullet-proof screen and machine guns was sensational but credible. It was a time of the Space Race, the Swinging Sixties of seemingly limitless progress and optimism. "Goldfinger" was a reflection of this concept that the Good Guys would always come out on top and that we were on the right side...

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The Aston Martin DB5 is featured in six of the twenty-four Bond movies and has assumed the brand values of the fictional secret agent. There have been other cars in those films, some Aston Martins even, but none enjoy the association that the DB5 has in the minds of the audience – the DB5 is THE Bond car.

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The Aston Martin DB5’s flirtation with Hollywood probably saved the brand in the long run. Many other venerable sporting car companies of the time either went out of business or were merged and lost, but the fairy dust from the big screen seemed to protect Aston Martin. Sales doubled after "Goldfinger" was released, but they struggled to keep pace with demand. Even after David Brown disposed of the company he rescued, after World War II there have been a succession of white knights who have kept the flame burning. Indeed, two years ago there were celebrations as Aston Martin reached its centenary, which you can take a look at HERE and HERE.

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Recently, I had an opportunity to take a closer look at one of these fine Grand Tourers. The Aston Martin DB5 was a evolution of its predecessor, the DB4, at least superficially.

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The car’s length and wheelbase were marginally increased, giving more interior room. The design was an evolution of the handsome shape from Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera’s work on the DB4.

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While still an in-line six cylinder arrangement, power was up 20-percent from the original DB4 to 282 bhp. The biggest change was a larger engine, from 3.7 to 4.0-liters.

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This all-aluminium engine was given a new 5-speed gearbox from ZF (except a few early examples) or, for a select few customers, a Borg-Warner Automatic.

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Girling disc brakes were now standard with twin hydraulic servos, while other refinements included electric windows. Another optional extra that was advanced for the time was the Armstrong Selectaride System, with a switch on the console that allowed four levels of stiffness to be selected on the rear shock absorbers.

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In common with the trends exhibited by other high performance manufacturers such as Ferrari and Maserati, the Aston Martin DB5 was veering away from ultimate track performance towards refined and comfortable Grand Touring.

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The level of interior trim reflected this aspiration, as did the price £4,175 for the saloon, equivalent to around $1 million today. And that is roughly what you have to pay today – this particular example was sold at auction recently for $950,000.

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In 1964, Aston Martin launched a convertible version, the Volante, and also introduced a Vantage model, enjoying additional power now up to 325 bhp. A total of 1,021 DB5s were built, 123 of which were Volantes. Even more exclusive were the dozen DB5s that were converted to estate cars at the request of the factory by coachbuilders, Harold Radford. We looked at one of these wonders a while back HERE.

The Aston Martin DB5 is arguably the quintessential model from the famous marque, and as such is guaranteed to leave us both shaken and stirred.

(Photos: Copyright and courtesy of Dirk de Jager)

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