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Aston Martin DB7

Aston Martin DB7 Published: 15th Sep 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Aston Martin DB7
Aston Martin DB7
Aston Martin DB7
Aston Martin DB7
Aston Martin DB7
Aston Martin DB7
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Why not own a....? Aston Martin DB7

The words ‘Aston’ and ‘bargain’ don’t exactly go together but the ‘Jag in drag’ DB7 is, for the majority of us, the last chance we’ll realistically get of owning one. In Aston terms, at least, this XJ-S-derived supercar can be regarded as ‘inexpensive’ thanks to the £20K needed for a reasonable car becomes fairly affordable and attainable to most of us at a stretch – if we cut out luxuries like food? But as DB7 values start to level off and even climb, the time to look for one is now or it will become yet another DB that slipped out of reach.

Model choice

Overlooking a handful of limited special editions, there’s four mainstream DB7s to consider, the Straight six (I6) and the V12, both in fastback and Volante drophead forms. Hard driving 007s will probably find that the stiffer-shelled coupés handle that bit better than the delightful convertibles because the latter ride on slightly softer suspensions plus lack a rear anti roll bar into the bargain. And being 150kg heavier are a tad less agile.

Bar room chat has it that it wasn’t until the V12-engined Vantage surfaced that the DB7 became the car it should have all along, although it depends whether you want the extra performance or the cachet of a V12. Some DB7 specialists feel that the original XJR-based, racing-derived supercharged six gave the car a more thoroughbred feel. You’ll have to try both to compare… but here at Classic Motoring we’ve never believed that the straight six DB7 is a second stringer.

The I6 is certainly the cheapest way to join the Aston Martin club and while you see, automatic I6s usually, under the £20,000 barrier this has to be the bottom line for something decent as a surprising number on the market are in a pretty shocking state while worringly looking the part.

Remember the DB7 Wheeler Dealers brought back to spec and made less than a grand for all Edd’s and Mike’s troubles? With a DB7 you invariably get what you pay for say the experts.

Behind the wheel

The burning question is does the DB7 drive as beautifully as it looks? When new, it was widely acclaimed although the car was pegged back a notch or two once rivals like the Mercedes SL600 and the cheaper Jaguar XKR came on the scene while the Aston was never a sports car like a 911. It depends what you are looking for – but if it’s performance then you have to do the widely recommended V12 route.

Or do you? We’d like to know what’s so wrong with the earlier supercharged six which some DB7 experts feel is the more thoroughbred. Let’s face it, just like a lack of horses on that other unfairly slated ‘sluggish’ modern classic, the 204bhp 2.5 Porsche Boxster, 335bhp is no small deal and more than suffices for most, even in the popular automatic guise. Admittedly, the Aston’s headline 0-60 time is nothing special these days (particularly the automatic) but in the real word the 30-50mph shove is of more relevance and few cars will see much of the Aston’s tail in give-and-take motoring.

Ditto the handling, while not 911 sharp, is more than satisfying if not exhilarating for most owners and a well set up DB7 will have you sneaking out on a quiet Sunday morning for a cheeky blast.

However, for many, the joy will come of the sense of wellbeing and comfort on a brisk yet leisurely tour for two; there’s barely enough space in the back for anything more than growing children although it’s fairly tolerable in a Volante with the hood down.

What to pay

A couple of years ago you could buy an entirely respectable I6 model for just under £20,000. You need to increase this by half for nice examples as prices for all good DB7s are starting to climb strongly, regularly outstripping both the earlier Virage and some later Astons, like the DB9 and V8 Vantage. Specialist Chiltern Aston, for instance, recently sold an admittedly ultra low miles limited edition (of 52) Anniversary coupé for almost 60 grand!

In common with other Astons, the asking price is only half the story and while you’ll pay a hefty premium when buying from such a dealer or recognised specialist, it’s usually worth the extra cash as they’ll have or know of the best cars. Some 7000 were made so there’s no excuse for buying rashly. If you take the private route, you’re well advised to have a full inspection carried out by Aston for a very reasonable £300 or so.

Making one better

As with any old supercar, the best improvement, for want of a better word, is to have a thorough service and geometry reset done by a good AM specialist. We promise you, this alone will transform most cars. Talking of tyres, it’s best to stick to Bridgestone Expedias (S01 on DB7 and S02 on Vantage) that were originally specified by the factory; they suit the DB7’s chassis better than anything else available say those in the know.

Chiltern Aston adds that any customised cars wearing radical rims, it takes as trade-ins, are automatically reverted to standard footwear before retailing as wheel offset is critical and can impair the driving experience.

Bringing up the brakes on a DB7 ‘six’ to V12 spec is wise if you envisage hard use, the 335bhp 3.2 engine can be upped by 50bhp with better charge cooling, as well as a faster-spinning supercharger pulley. Do you need any more speed from a V12? A sports exhaust is one of the best first steps, before it all gets a bit too involved and pricey for us!

Maintenance matters

Service intervals are 7500 miles or six monthly and, as the DB7 is essentially Jaguar, it can be done by most normal garages with the exception of the V12 unit.

Specialist charges are quite containable with a typical service costing around £400. Avoid the main dealers and you can run one for almost Mondeo money; for example, replacing front discs and pads for little more than £100 is possible while, oil filters can be found for less than a tenner.

Actually, main dealer rates aren’t so bad given such a prestigious badge either. For example, a full service kit from a Heritage dealer costs under £120 while adding AM club discount slices off another 10 per cent. Rear lights are Mazda 323 and a lot of the switchgear is Ford and Mazda while we’re certain that cross referencing some service parts with the donor Jag XJ-S and XK8 models will throw up a lot of common parts and invariably they will be cheaper. Aston headlights are £1000 a pop and are in fair demand so don’t dismiss a cracked one when debating DB7s.

Amazingly, rust can be a major issue because Aston didn’t bother with undersealing its expensive cars after 2001! Part-repair panels are available for repairs but it’s a patchy supply from Aston. Get out and get under with Waxoyl asap is our advice and, to be fair, the majority of new owners willingly pay to have it done before leaving the showroom. But really…

Verdict

If you ignore the Jag-in-drag jibe, you’ll love the lovely-looking DB7 and revel in Aston ownership – even if it’s more Johnny English than James Bond. Who cares?

Buying tips

1. Body

Amazingly DB7s can fail an MoT due to rust and, if anything the later cars suffer most because Aston reduced the amount of underseal used and, by 2002, had stopped rust-proofing completely to save money…

If a new screen has been installed, the plastic scuttle trim may have been incorrectly refitted; it often is, leading to water leaks rotting the floorpans.

Check the jacking points, radius arm mountings and front bulkhead, as these will be the first areas to succumb. The scuttle and air-con drain tubes also get blocked, leading to water collecting in the doubleskinned bulkhead.

2. General

Try as many as you can to ascertain a yardstick. DB7s are specialist and it’s easy to buy a so-so example if you can’t compare them. Dealers will usually have best examples.

3. Engine

Both powerplants are strong, especially the former. Crucially, V12s use O.A.T. anti-freeze and nothing else; if the system has been topped up with standard fluid, the two will have reacted. Oil pipes known to fail so check for leaks.

The exhaust tends not to cause problems but the cast iron six-cylinder manifolds can crack where they merge.

4. Running gear

Suspensions are not renowned for giving problems but it is essential that the geometry is spot on. The tyres will wear unevenly and rapidly, particularly on the inside if it’s all out of kilter.

Suspension bushes wear and will lead to a sloppy feel. We’re told by specialists that while Jaguar items fit (and probably be easier and cheaper to source) genuine Aston items are performance biased and better quality.

DB7s wore big alloys as standard, distortion if the car has been driven quickly on poorly surfaced roads can occur. Larger Vantage rims are even more prone to this.

5. Electrics

Alarms can flatten car’s battery (ensure you get both key fobs). Switchgear is mostly Ford sourced.



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