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Aston Martin DB6

The Gold (Finger) Rush Published: 27th Jun 2012 - 1 Comments

Aston Martin DB6The days of the DB6 lagging behind its predecessors are fast coming to an end. So buy now and also get the best of the breed!

Fast Facts

  • Best model: Vantage Mk2
  • Worst model: Autos
  • Budget buy: None really!
  • OK for unleaded?: Needs valve seats or additive
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): 4362 x 1680 mm
  • Spares situation: Excellent
  • DIY ease?: Yes but still needs skilled touch
  • Club support: Usual Aston Martin
  • Appreciating asset?: Gaining on the DB5!
  • Good buy or good-bye?: A better, cheaper car than DB5s
Six needs proper care and magga dear to repair. XK Jag unit fits but devalues the car Six needs proper care and magga dear to repair. XK Jag unit fits but devalues the car
A trad GT in every sense, the controls are heavy but the cockpit is comfortable A trad GT in every sense, the controls are heavy but the cockpit is comfortable
Higher roof line liberates more space but still cramped. Restos naturally pricey… Higher roof line liberates more space but still cramped. Restos naturally pricey…
Flip up tail made DB6 more modern looking plus it also dramatically improved stability Flip up tail made DB6 more modern looking plus it also dramatically improved stability
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The days of the DB6 lagging behind its predecessors are fast coming to an end. So buy now and also get the best of the breed!

Pros & Cons

Style, added civility and space, MK2 improvements, Aston and specialist back up, appreciating asset
Lacklusture auto models, badly restored examples, horrendous resto costs

Anybody who has been keeping a watchful eye on Aston prices over the past year must have notice a significant surge in DB6 values. Where previously residuals for the DB4 and the DB5 always made the later car look like the poor relation, DB6 values have, of late, been catching up hand over fist.

There are several reasons for this – not least fact that investors have cottoned on to the worth of the DB6 and are now reaping the rewards. But classics are also to be used and enjoyed and we doubt that there are many who wouldn’t deny that the Kamm-tailed replacement for the DB5 is a superior car in every way.

Recently a DB6 – and an automatic at that – went for a staggering £242,000 at auction which, while not cheap, certainly undercuts values of the earlier DB icons. So the time to buy is now, before the DB6 – the Aston Martin Bond never drove – follows suit!


The DB6 was really an evolution of the all new Superlegga alloy-bodied DB4 (one well known specialist dubs it DB4 Series 10!) DB5 slap in mid 60s. Similar in concept, but the accent was now more on family-sized GT motoring, care of a 3.75 inch longer wheelbase and slightly raised roof line. It certainly made the cockpit more useable, yet the car was only two inches longer than the more compact-looking DB5.

Another sop to civility included options such as power steering, automatic transmission and air conditioning. And, although the style of the cockpit remained largely unchanged, there were better seats, headlining and dials to name just a few improvements.

The biggest talking point, of course, was the flip up duck-tail of a boot lid. Called the Kamm tail it provided no less than 30 percent reduced lift to make the most of 282bhp in standard 4-litre tune, or the 325bhp in the Vantage. On all models five speeds were made standard, along with a Powr- Lok limited slip diff for the Vantage’s extra horses.

In ’66 the Volante appeared and it was the first time that this name was used by Aston for its drop tops, although in effect it was a DB5 hybrid featuring DB6 boot, bumpers and lights.

Despite Aston having its hands full, making the DBS and readying the V8 engine, it continued with the DB6, launching a MK2 in the summer of 1969. Identified by slightly flared wheel rear arches to house the fatter tyres, under the bonnet lurked optional electronic fuel injection from AE Brico. It gave the DB6 the go it always yearned for but unreliability caused many of the 46 made to make a return trip to the factory to have Vantage Webers retro-fitted. Even so the MK2 shared some of the improvements dialled into the DBS, such as its superior front seats, for example. Production finally stopped in 1970, just after the DBS V8 was launched. Just under 1600 were made, 215 being Volantes, beating DB5 sales by a third.


Like the E-type, these Astons were great in their day but that was a long time ago. By today’s standards, the DB6 feels is bit truck-like and it’s is a hefty car to pilot (heavier than an E-type), so try before you buy. The clutch can be extremely heavy, for example, although there are mods to counter this, or you can go the auto route which, while diluting the Aston’s sporting character, certainly makes it easier to pilot, especially if power steering is also fitted.

For its day the DB6 was pretty fast – 0-60 was under eight seconds and a clip of 140+ was fair going back in ’66, although it’s now only GTi-standards. But, like all classics, it’s not what it does but how it does it, and there’s no shortage of fun in this Aston, which while slightly heavier than a DB5 is no slower in real world situations, especially the Vantage which had gained 10bhp over the DB5, care of DB4 GT (exhaust) camshafts and re-jetted Webers.

Certainly that flip up tail and stiffer rear suspension gave the DB6 far better handling and high speed stability than previously, and was still licensed to thrill – but not in that way!

The DB6 was, and remains, at its best when touring, where that lusty 3995cc (280lb.ft torque) twin cam is at its best, and with standard fivespeeds as restful as any modern, if not as frugal – expect 15-20mpg at best.

The automatics were much derided because the Borg Warner Model 8 strangled the performance. One book on the self-shifter (Aston Martin Ever The Thoroughbred – Haynes) comments thus: “An automatic DB6 looks the part, even sounds the part and there are other benefits in that it is extremely hard to red-line the engine. Even better these cars will probably be of a lower mileage than their manual cousins – they are so awful that wise owners will have taken the train.” Ouch!

Whether you agree with the author or not, at least it makes the DB6 not so heavy to handle and, like the similarly unloved 2+2 E-type autos, they can be significantly cheaper to buy (although converting to ZF manual isn’t easy or inexpensive so forget that idea!).

The DB6 lacks the lean look of the DB5 but you can’t deny that the cabin is a much nicer place to be, especially four-up on long journeys. Unlike earlier DBs, it can be considered a genuine 2+2 GT and a pretty comfortable and refined one.

Even when new, the DB6 was considered old fashioned in road test reports, but this didn’t stop the enjoyment. American Road & Track remarked that it had fallen behind the times – but never into a rut. “We look forward to the DB7” it added! We’ll, we had a bloody long wait, didn’t we!


Any upgrading – and there’s a fair bit that can be done – has to be balanced against spoiling the car’s originality and character, not to say value. Speak to a renowned Aston specialist for best advice here.

However, only real slaves to showroom spec would argue that the Aston could do with some mild, sympathetic mods to make it better suited to modern use. One leading expert, RS WIlliams of Surrey, is a staunch advocate of using modern technology, so long as the car still looks original, and offers a wealth of upgrades.

The chassis is as good a place to start as any. Most owners will have probably by now ditched the quirky Armstrong Selecatride dampers for modern Konis or similar and reaped better handling. The frumpy old fashioned lever arm units can be ditched for a telescopic conversion (like the MGB) for further gains. New springs and perhaps poly bushing the suspension is another good move, although the latter will transmit more road noise and harshness. A complete tailored handling kit is available from costing over £1000.

In their day the all-disc brakes were rated as superb and are still okay for normal classic driving, although an upgrade to better discs and pads is a good idea – perhaps from the DBS V8 if you want to keep some originality, or you can opt for a kit made by AP specially for the DB5/6 but with fitting it costs around £3000.

In terms of engine upgrades, there’s a variety of options which includes a lustier 4.2 or 4.7-litre enlargement. It’s not unknown to see budget-based DB6s wear the 4.2 Jaguar XK lump because it’s a far cheaper bet than a proper rebuild to Aston standards. It works quite well too, with similar power outputs, but will hurt the car’s value, of course – and with prices on the rise that’s not to be overlooked.

Sticking with the Aston engine, camshaft swaps are a good step but cost £1000 + per item, plus the carbs will have to be re-jetted to suit. Justified improvements to even a car being kept as standard as possible should include a superior radiator, electric fan conversion, higher output starter motor and alternator and a modern clutch assembly which transforms the usual lorrylike pedal action.


The reason why DB6 prices have started to escalate can be put down to the Bond effect levelling off and the later car finding its true level in the Aston market, because there was never any logical reason why the price differentials were so vast from the beginning. Like-for-like, a DB6 still trails Connery’s classic but is gaining by the day so it’s best to buy now while they are some 30-40 per cent cheaper! Projects can start from £30,000 upwards and usable cars perhaps double this. Be very careful of an ‘affordable’ barn find or basket case – it may not be the road to riches you first thought, even though DB prices defy gravity, because any potential financial gains have to be set against some staggering restoration costs if you want to do it right. And you should if you want to protect your new investment.

What To Look For

  • If ever a classic needed care when buying it’s an old Aston. Lottery-like price tags and gleaming paintwork are no indication to a car’s prowess and you can easily pay well over the odds. Many were ‘restored’ quickly and cheaply back in the late 1980s to satisfy huge demand. And they want doing again – properly this time.
  • Really you’d be mad not to entrust a top Aston specialist or the owner’s club to help you in your search; they know the best cars out there. And take your time as there’s no excuse to rush in and buy the first you see just to secure one before prices rise again. Condition is everything with this car.
  • As the youngest DB6 is over 40 years old, there are very few original unrestored examples left. Of course, rust is the major worry, along with poorly executed repairs; the Superlegga build (aluminium panels over a tubular steel skeleton structure) is as complex as it is study but expensive and difficult to rectify properly.
  • Thankfully, although some purists will say it’s why the DB6 languished for so long in terms of value, this last of the real DBs relied much less on the Superlegga principle than previous models and the badges on the wings are a bit misleading. But it does mean that a DB6 should be slightly less exorbitant to restore
  • See if the chassis number is present. Amazingly for such a sophisticated car it was simply scrawled in chalk or crayon on a trim panel. Does it match the V5 for example?
  • These cars were some of the best made Astons ever, but rust will always be the enemy. The alloy outer panels won’t rot but the steel Superlegga skeleton will. Top areas include the bulkhead, pedal box area, jacking points, sills and outriggers and any suspension attachment area, particularly at the rear where the Watts linkage and trailing arms reside.
  • Floor rot is common, more so at the rear and especially the boot, which can fall out if really bad. It’s quite likely that past repairs have been affected here. Volante convertibles are the most suspect of course and look for cracking between the fuel fillers and the boot lid.
  • Inspect the sill areas. These are box sections and harbour rust as they are covered by outer decorative panels. The jacking areas are the most rot prone.
  • Heavy duty doesn’t begin to describe the front cradle which houses the engine and transmission. Rust usually isn’t the worry here, but accident repairs are and, if there’s any sign of patch repairs, then ascertain its alignment.
  • Actual replacement parts and panels are fairly priced (typically door bottom, £220 for an outer sill), it’s the fitting and fettling needed on this hand-built car that ratchets up the final bill. A new bumper costs just over £1400.
  • While you’re at the front, admiring that beautiful engine, have a look at the washer bottle! It’s no thing of beauty but it does encourage rusting in that area. They cost around £80 to renew.
  • Those bumpers are big, beefy and beautiful. Check their alignment and give them a waggle as the bumper supports do rust away. Inspect both front and rear valances well, too.
  • Aluminium itself doesn’t rust, of course, but corrosion does occur where the alloy panels interact with the steel chassis and welding is the only solution as Aston never used common body filler – just a skim of cellulose stopper – anywhere on the car.
  • That straight six engine is a beaut if in good order. Oil pressure is meant to be high - 75-100lb.ft @3000 rpm. The engine contains something like 23 pints of 20W/50 and Aston always recommended that it should be changed every 2500 miles.
  • A good engine will be rather like an XK unit, where you can hear the valve train but little else. Either triple SU or Weber DCOEs are fitted and naturally need an expert to tune and balance, especially Webers. If worn then expect a bill in excess of £1000 to overhaul so don’t dismiss an under-par DB6 as just a simple tune-up job. Also, serious stuttering or fuel starvation under load is normally due to the SU pump packing up.
  • The engine relies on replaceable iron piston liners and their location can become slugged up, especially the rearmost ones. It’s said that there’s a trick to do this properly and if not adhered to the block will be damaged.
  • Bunged up liners lead to overheating and, apart from the temperature gauge telling you so, check for coolant leaking through the cylinder liner bleed openings. A full and proper engine rebuild on can run to a cool £25,000 or more.
  • Even a decoke will cost something like six grand or so if you need a new head! Even if you need just valves, these are typically £25-30 each with guides costing over £30 each.
  • All manuals use a ZF five-speed ‘box and are robust; a good thing too as a transmission rebuild on is a £2000 job. The clutches are always very heavy on an Aston.
  • Diffs are rarely silent that even a rebuild won’t eradicate. Some play can be adjusted out.
  • The suspensions need a watch. Start with a bit of 007-style driving in reverse! If, when piloting backwards smartly, the tail rises, it suggests that the rear trailing arm bushes are shot or have become detached from the car!
  • Check for weak, leaking lever arm dampers. Adjustable Armstrong Selecatride units were an option (adjusted from a dash control) but probably replaced by conventional units.
  • A good DB6 will feel quite precise, thanks to rack and pinion, but the straps that hold the rack in place are flimsy and may have been broken, repaired.
  • Apart from checking that the suspension has become detached from the car due to rust, check the rear of the front wishbones as these feature split aluminium inserts which corrode and seize up.
  • The DB6 weighs some 29cwt so tired springs are hardly surprising. Check to see the car sits all square and the ride heights are correct.
  • The DB6’s all-disc brakes featured twin servos and Girling rather than Dunlop calipers and cost almost £500 a side to renew. If the master cylinder is failing then you’re looking at £300 for reconditioned replacement.
  • The Gentlemen’s cockpit costs about the same as an E-type to bring up to scratch and certain switches and stalks are becoming rare. Forget guns and the ejector seat on the DB5, Aston couldn’t even make the standard electric front windows work that well. An upgrade kit from costs £650.
  • Amazingly, many common replacement parts are surprisingly quite affordable… it’s the labour charges which will bump up the bills. Routine servicing, from likes of Aston experts Chiltern Aston of Herts, starts from under £300 for example.


Three Of A Kind

Aston Martin DBS
Aston Martin DBS
The cheaper alternative to the earlier DB6, plus it’s hard to argue that the later DBS is the better car with more space, refinement and greater high speed stability due to its De Dion rear suspension. Okay so the DBS lacks the graceful lines of earlier DBs and is bigger and heavier so only really performs in Vantage tune or the most preferred V8. Automatics are least liked and significantly cheaper but surprisingly popular due to clutch pedal heaviness.
Jaguar E-type
Jaguar E-type
Much cheaper brand new, Jaguar’s E-type continues this price advantage although really good ones can touch six figures now. Just as fast as the DB6, and lighter to drive, too, but the Aston is more the GT. There are far more E-types around, as the model survived right up to the mid 1970s, although it’s S3 cars which hold the most respect. That said, the V12 is a magnificent mile-eater. As with the Aston, you largely get what you pay for so buy with care and a proper budget.
Jensen Interceptor
Jensen Interceptor
Launched just after the DB5 made way for the DB6, Jensen’s Interceptor remains underrated and, in this company, astonishing value. Dubbed ‘The Birmingham Ferrari’, the Interceptor is as rapid as the Aston and has better handling especially the 4x4 FF. In all honesty, Jensens are most sophisticated of them all, but lack of perceived pedigree keeps prices to around £20-£30,000. They’re on the rise but are never the solid investments Astons are – or will be.


Yup – it’s another Aston Martin that you’ve probably missed the boat on… but if you can even remotely stretch to a good DB6 than both your heart and head simply won’t regret it. With DB5 prices remaining in high orbit, it won’t be long until the 6 follows suit. Given that the later car is superior in many ways to Connery’s classic, then the DB6 is currently – dare we say it – a bit of a bargain.

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User Comments

This review has 1 comments

  • Unfortunately the car in the picture was written off and declared a Cat B by some idiotic insurance assessor.

    The insurance company wanted to crush the bodyshell and reduce the number f DB6 by one.

    To see how the restoration is going please go to

    Comment by: Gary Ungless     Posted on: 24 Oct 2012 at 12:00 PM

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