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Aston Martin DB7

Published: 3rd Jun 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Buyer Beware

  • Try as many as you can to get yardstick. DB7s are specialist and it’s easy to buy a so-so example if you can’t compare them. Dealers will have best examples.
  • 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 windscreen has been installed, the plastic scuttle trim may have been incorrectly refitted; it often is, leading to water getting into the cabin. Once this happens, the carpet can rot, along with 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.
  • The six and 12-cylinder powerplants are strong, especially the former. Crucially, V12s use O.A.T. antifreeze 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 six-cylinder manifolds can crack where they merge.
  • Although the suspension isn’t renowned for giving problems, 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.
  • All DB7s wore 8x18in alloys as standard, apart from the 9x18in items fitted to the rear of the V12. Distortion if the car has been driven quickly on poorly surfaced roads can occur, because the inside of the rim isn’t supported adequately. The wider rear wheels of the Vantage are even more prone to this.
  • A Cobra alarm was fitted to early cars, but from the 1997 model year there was a factory-developed system installed; the car’s battery can flatten easily, especially if it plays up.
  • Switchgear is mostly Ford derived while Mazda MX-5 door levers are also employed so there’s scope for cheap repairs. Ensure that the key fobs work (and you should be given the complete set) as they should.

 

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Aston Martin DB7

It’s becoming almost a cliché to say that the DB7 is, for the majority of us, the last chance we’ll realistically get of owning an Aston Martin, albeit one that’s been dubbed a Jag in drag. That’s another classic car cliché!

Whatever your viewpoint, there’s little denying that as Astons go, the DB7 remains a bit of a bargain – in Aston terms anyway – that’s affordable and attainable. But as DB7 values start to flatten and even climb, the time to look for one is now or it will be another boat named Aston Martin that you’ll miss!

WHICH MODEL FOR YOU?

Aside from some limited specials, there’s four mainstream DB7s, the Straight six (I6) and the V12 in fastback and Volante drophead forms. Enthusiasts will no doubt find that the stiffer-shelled coupés handle that bit better than the delightful convertibles which ride on a softer suspension plus lack a rear anti roll bar into the bargain. And being 150kg heavier are a tad less agile.

Folklore has it that it wasn’t until the V12-engined Vantage arrived that the DB7 came of age although it depends whether you want the extra performance or the cachet of a V12. There are DB7 specialists who feel that the original racing-derived supercharged six gave the car a more thoroughbred feel. You’ll have to try both but we don’t believe that the early car is a second stringer.

In the end it comes down to your budget. You used to see the earliest cars (usually automatic I6s) under the £20,000 barrier but only scrappy cars now sell for less and £20K has to be the bottom line for something decent, says Chiltern Aston who adds there’s few ‘average’ cars around; they are either good or poor!

Mainstream guide prices still apply to the DB7 and Glass’s Guide books a 2004 V12 Vantage at £25,000 on the forecourt with automatics valued slightly higher.

On average, dropheads are valued at £3000 over a fixedhead, although top cars command higher prices than official trade values due to their growing classic status.

Volante premiums over the coupé will widen over time although prices for all good DB7s are starting to climb outstripping both the earlier Virage and some later Astons like the DB9. The cheapest DB7 sells for a smidgen under £15,000 (a six auto) and Glass’s Guide quotes £30K for the last of the V12s but perhaps £24K at auction.

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.

Remember the DB7 Wheeler Dealers brought back to spec and made less than a grand for Edd’s and Mike’s troubles?

With a DB7 you invariably get what you pay for. 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.

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, 335bhp is no small deal and the performance more than suffices, even in the popular automatic guise, just like it does on that other unfairly slated ‘sluggish’ modern classic, the 2.5 Porsche Boxster

Admittedly the Aston’s headline 0-60 time of 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.

DAILY DRIVER?

Why not – if you can afford the fuel costs (you’ll be doing well to return much over 20mpg) and maintenance bills? Service intervals are 7500 miles or six monthly and, as the DB7 is essentially a Jaguar, it can be done by most normal garages with the exception of the V12 engine. Best improvement is to have a thorough service and geometry reset done by a good AM specialist. It’s best to stick to Bridgestone Expedias (S01 on DB7 and S02 on Vantage) originally specified by the factory; they suit the DB7’s chassis better than anything else available. Chiltern Aston says customised cars are reverted to standard before retailing as wheel offset is critical.

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.

OWNING AND MAINTAINING

Specialist charges are quite containable with a typical service costing around £400 and you can renew discs for £100 per wheel. In motor factors, oil filters cost less than a tenner while the fast wearing rear radius arm bushes sell for under £400, that’s £150 less than a main dealer part.

Actually main dealer rates aren’t that bad 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 sure cross referencing some service parts with the XK8 will show a lot of common parts. Wings are almost £750 and headlights £1000 a pop. Partrepair panels are available for repairs but it’s a patchy supply from Aston. While you could argue that undersealing a car more than ten years old is a bit late in the day, you’d be foolish not to if it hasn’t already been done. Thankfully the majority appear to have been Waxoyled!

Timelines

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

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.

We Reckon...

If you can overlook or ignore the Jag-indrag jibe, you’ll love the DB7 and revel in Aston ownership. True, the XK8 is as good yet appreciably cheaper but the Coventry cat lacks the exclusivity of an AM. Let’s face it, most of us could own an XK8 if we chose (especially at the prices they can sell for!) but an Aston is something quite different – even if it is more Johnny English than Sean Connery.



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