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Aston Martin DB7

Aston Martin DB7 Published: 16th Jan 2019 - 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
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, one of the last chances we’ll realistically get of owning one. In Aston terms, at least, this XJ-S-derived supercar can be regarded as ‘inexpensive’ at £25K needed for a remotely reasonable car which is attainable to most of us at a stretch – if we cut out luxuries like food? But as DB7 values start to not level off but even notably climb, the time to look for one is now or this modern classic 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 fleet of foot and nimble.

Bar room chat has it that it wasn’t until the V12-engined Vantage surfaced that the DB7 became the car it should have been all along, although it depends whether you want the extra performance or the cachet of a V12. Some DB7 specialists feel that the original XJRDB7 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 engine 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 disturbingly 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, the Aston 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 primarily meatly performance then you have to go the 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. True, the Aston’s headline 0-60 time is nothing special these days (particularly automatic models) but in the real world 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 for grown up in a Volante albeit with the hood down.

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; this alone will transform most cars. Talking of tyres (of which wear is very heavy), it’s best to stick to Bridgestone Expedias (S01 on DB7 and S02 on Vantages) that were originally specifi ed by the factory. Some specialists say that any customised DB7s wearing radical rims, taken in as trade-ins, are normally reverted to standard footwear as the wheel offset is critical.

Bringing up the brakes on a DB7 ‘six’ to V12 spec is wise if you envisage hard use. Tarox Super Sport upgrades are advised. If the suspension needs a rebuld then Aston specialist Nicholas Mee has a special complete GT kit but it costs the thick end of £2000.

The 335bhp 3.2 engine can be upped by 50bhp with better charge cooling, as well as a faster-spinning supercharger pulley. Better air fi lters and exhausts are the fi nal touches before major engine mods. Do you need any more speed from a V12? A sports exhaust is one of the best fi rst steps, before it all gets a bit too involved and pricey for us!

Maintenance matters

Service intervals are 7500 miles and, as the DB7 is essentially Jaguar, it can be done by most normal garages with the exception of the Aston V12 unit. Specialist charges are quite containable with a typical service costing in the region of £400. Avoid 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 fi lters can be found for less than a tenner if you shop around. Actually, main dealer rates aren’t that bad given such a prestigious badge either. For example, a 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 or Mazda while we’re certain that cross referencing some service parts with the donor Jag XJ-S and XK8 will throw up a lot of common parts and invariably will be cheaper. Aston headlights are £1000 a pop and in fair demand.

If you want a manual gearbox bear in mind that it only comes as full clutch kit with the fl ywheel costing some £2700 plus fi tting and VAT! Also, it’s imperative that the rear axle oil is regularly changed or damage will be done. Amazingly, rust can be a major issue because Aston didn’t bother with undersealing them at all after 2001!

In conclusion

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

The car’s timeline

1994 DB7 (I6) launched, based upon an aborted F-Type Jaguar project using XJ-S platform, and developed by Jaguar Le Mans winning team TWR, using (Jaguar XJR-derived) 335bhp supercharged engine.
1996 Drophead Volante appears, complete with a powered roof. Also 1997 model year cars gained raft of much needed improvements plus significantly better build quality.
1999 V12 Vantage, using an all-Aston Martin 6-litre 420bhp engine is offered in both Coupé and rag top Volante forms and quickly displaces the original six-cylinder range.
2002 Run-out DB7 called the GT; there was also an automatic available, wearing GTA badges. In the same year, the DB7 Zagato also made its début, but none were delivered until 2003 and only 99 were made.
2003 Zagato-bodied Vantage Volante unveiled; the DB AR1. Just 99 were made, aimed at the US market, although eight European cars were produced. The final DB7s (10th anniversary models) were also built.

What to pay…

A few of years back you could buy an respectable I6 model for well under £20,000. You need to increase this by half for the nicest examples as prices for all good DB7s are climbing strongly, regularly outstripping both the earlier Virage and some later Astons, such as the DB9 and the V8 Vantage. In common with other Astons, the asking price is only half the story and while you’ll pay a hefty premium when buying from 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 and be wary if the vendor refuses this reasonable request of yours…

Buying Tips

The mixture of Ford and Jag parts is a bonus

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

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.

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.

Engine

Both are strong, especially the former. Crucially, V12s use O.A.T. anti-freeze and nothing else. 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.

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 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 we’re informed.

Here’s six of the best reasons to buy one

  • Those jawdropping looks
  • Jag-based mechanicals
  • Plenty around but steadily rising prices
  • Strong value for money
  • Jag-level servicing costs
  • An attainable and affordable Aston Martin – still!


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