Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Aston Martin DB6

Aston Martin DB6 Published: 1st Sep 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Best model: Vantage Mk2
  • Worst model: Autos
  • Budget buy: None!
  • OK for unleaded?: Needs convert or additive
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4362 x W1680 mm
  • Spares situation: Excellent
  • Club support: As above
  • Appreciating asset?: Typical Aston...
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Fab at 50
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

Replacement for the DB5 which until recently languished as the inferior alternative even though it boasted more cockpit room and better handling. Hugely expensive to restore like all DBs but soaring prices really leave you with little alternative but to keep one A1

When it comes to Aston Martin prices then the only way is up and no more so than when it comes to the DB6. 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 and one reason is – whisper it – that the 50 year old Kamm-tailed replacement for the DB5 is a superior car in every way and the better bargain – if you can call an Aston that!

HISTORY

1965 The £4998 (taxes paid) DB6 was more than a facelift of the DB5 but instead an evolution of the Superleggeraa alloybodied DB4. And with it came a change in character with an accent that was now more on family-sized GT motoring, care of its 3.75 inch longer wheelbase and slightly raised roof line.

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 of the improvements.

The biggest talking point, and one that split owners, was the flip up duck-tail of a boot lid. Technically known as the Kamm tail, that little boot lid flip up provided no less than 30 percent reduced lift to make the car far more stable at high speeds on the M1 before the dreaded 70mph limit came into force that year. On a practical level, boot space was increased while the style was enhanced by a split from bumper giving the DB6 a more modern look.

The 4-litre engine was unchanged and available in 282bhp standard tune, or the 325bhp in the no cost option Weber-carb Vantage, Aston saying that the former engine was better suited for those who did a lot of town driving.

On all models five speeds were made standard, along with a Powr-Lok limited slip diff for the Vantage’s extra horses. 1966 ’The Volante drophead appeared and it was the first time that this name was used by Aston for its convertibles, although in effect this model was really a DB5 hybrid featuring a DB6 boot lid, bumpers and light clusters.

1969 The DB6 continued in production even though Aston having its hands full making the DBS and readying its racebred V8 engine. The DB6 Mk2 of that summer was identified by slightly flared wheel rear arches to house the fatter tyres. Under the bonnet lurked optional electronic fuel injection from AE Brico to give the DB6 more drivability than added go but unreliability caused many of the 46 made to make a return trip to the factory to have Vantage Webers retro-fitted. DBS front seats improved driver comfort. 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.

DRIVING AND PRESS COMMENTS

Does the DB6 feel like a 50 year old? Well, in absolute terms by today’s standards, this Aston not surprisingly feels a bit truck-like. The clutch can be lorry like 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 installed – another worthy upgrade.

However, for its day the DB6 was a pretty fast GT with a 0-60 time in under eight seconds – fair going back in ’66, although it’s now only GTi-standards.

While slightly heavier than a DB5 the later car is no slower in real world situations thanks to its more aerodynamic shape, plus the Vantage gained 10bhp over the DB5 model, care of its DB4 GT (exhaust) camshafts and re-jetted Webers.

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

That said, 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 five speeds as restful as any modern, if not as frugal – expect 15-20mpg at best.

The automatics were – and remain – much derided because the Borg Warner Model 8 strangled the performance, which by today’s reckoning is at best GTi standards. One tester commented: “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 – they are so awful that wise owners will have taken the train.”

Whether you agree with this opinion 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 if tempted to buy one to convert to a manual be warned as they are almost extinct.

Unlike earlier DBs, the larger DB6 can be considered a genuine 2+2 GT and a pretty comfortable and refined one, too.

“The DB6 makes an overall speed limit of 70mph quite ridiculous”, said Motor back in January 1966, having a sly dig at Mrs Castle’s new law. On a brighter note, the weekly felt that “The new design is superior in every way to the previous model”.

American Road & Track wasn’t quite so gushing in its praise, reckoning that the basic Aston format had fallen behind the times – but never into a rut. “We look forward to the DB7” it added! It was a long wait…

VALUES AND THE MARKET

The days of the DB6 being a cheaper alternative to the silver screened DB5 are history – as we closed for press a totally original Mk1 DB6 Volante was going through a Barons auction carrying an estimate of around £500,000-£750,000.

Admittedly this rare model, with its owner since 1981(we wonder what he paid for it then!-ed) is said to have only been used in the dry, is a bit special but there again they all are to a degree. Aston specialist Byron International had this to say about DB6 values: A couple of years ago, when the market woke up to the fact that the DB6 was Aston Martin’s final – and best – version of the classic Superleggera design by Touring, the prices shot up doubling and tripling almost overnight.

But, unlike many overheated market bubbles that burst, the DB6 market settled into a more sophisticated pattern that acknowledged the wide range of models and their condition. At the top end, sit the Volantes with the very best achieving around £750,000 in the market whilst one needing attention is priced nearer £500,000. The sadness is the current market confusion, like the car offered by Barons auctioneers at its July sale; estimate £500,000-£750,000. A 50 per cent variance is a guess not an estimate!

At the other end of the DB6 market lie the “project cars” – these start with early DB6 models at £130-£150,000 but again variance comes into it according to specification – a DB6 Mark 2 Vantage project car sold at Goodwood in March for £194,000 including premium. In A1 condition, the car will be nearer £400,000.

A very driveable DB6 Automatic can be bought for less than £200,000 but then a Mark 2 Auto is a third higher with a nice version making £281,500 at the Works Service Sale in May. But these values are never straightforward – the market likes the engine number to match the original, but there are cars changed from Automatic to Manual and other upgrades – always seek expert advice on value if you are buying.

One final thought – Aston Martin brokers, Byron International, offers valuation services and there have been 69 instances in the last 18 months where they have been able to clearly identify the valuation on the client’s car prior to the current valuation. The values of these cars have varied from less than £50,000 to in excess of £1 million and the time between valuations has varied from 12 months to 10 years. But the cumulative difference in insured value of those 69 cars is £9,715,000 (or an average of £140,797 per car)! If you are lucky enough to have a DB6 in the garage – then get it valued!

Leading specialist Desmond J Smail (http://www.desmondjsmail.co.uk) says that in common with the Aston market in general, the DB6 market is almost too buoyant and there’s not really enough good cars out there to satisfy demand; there are however a disproportionate number of over-priced mediocre cars suffering from poor past repairs and restorations coming to the surface instead which is why he advises a professional inspection by an Aston expert. Smail’s own comprehensive 12 page report costs some £600 but given today’s cost of a restoration of £250-£300,000, it will save owners thousands…

Incidentally, the above prices also coincide with what a typical good car would sell for. Condition and provenance could for most but all things being equal a Mk2 is the best bet thanks to its better cockpit, bigger clutch and larger tyres, says Desmond.

IMPROVEMENTS

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 soaring value. Speak to a renowned Aston Martin 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 (which by now have probably failed – if so specialists simply set them to their hardest setting and then advise owners leave alone) 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 but it spoils originality and is not essential.

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 Astonparts.com costing over £1000 but does what it says on the tin. Mk2 models sported flared arches to accept the larger 205 section tyres. Don’t be tempted to fit them to an earlier car because they will foul the standard wheel arches.

In their day the Aston’s all-disc brakes set up was rated as superb and, to be fair, are still more than adequate for normal classic-pace driving, although an upgrade to better discs and pads is not a bad 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 open to you which includes a lustier 4.2 or 4.7-litre enlargement, which some Aston specialist include in a restoration as a matter of course.

Due to the car’s once lowly values – and the fact that an Aston rebuild costs more than 20 grand, it’s not unknown to see budget-based DB6s still wear the 4.2 Jaguar XK lump instead. Don’t tell everyone, but it works quite well too, with similar power outputs, although 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. If a car is SU carb’d don’t instantly shout for juicy looking Webers as those in the know say the simpler fuel feeder can work equally well and stay in tune better.

Justified improvements, to even a car being kept as standard as possible, should ideally include a superior radiator, electric fan conversion, higher output starter motor and alternator and a modern clutch assembly which transforms the usual lorry-like pedal action to something more acceptable.

What To Look For

GENERAL

  • Really you’d be mad not to entrust a top Aston specialist or the owners’ 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 any Aston.
  •  

  • As the youngest DB6 is 45 years old, there are very few original examples left. Rust, naturally, 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 sturdy but expensive and difficult to rectify properly.
  •  

  • Thankfully, 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 details for example?
  •  

  • Routine servicing isn’t too horrendous, from likes of Aston experts Chiltern Aston of Herts, starts from around £300 for example.
  • RUNNING GEAR

     

    • 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! At the front, the straps that hold the steering rack in place are flimsy and may have been broken, repaired.
    •  

    • Check for weak, leaking lever arm dampers. Adjustable Armstrong Selecatride units were an option (adjusted from a novel driver control) but probably replaced by conventional units.
    •  

    • 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’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 a quality reconditioned replacement plus fitting.
    •  

    • The Gentlemen’s GT 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 electric front windows work reliably. An upgrade kit from Astonparts.com costs £650.

     

    TRANSMISSIONS

     

    • All manuals use a ZF five-speed ’box and are robust; a good thing too as a transmission rebuild 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.

     

    ENGINE

     

    • That straight six engine is a beaut if in good order. Oil pressure is meant to be a 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. 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 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.
    •  

      BODY & CHASSIS

       

      • The alloy outer panels won’t rot but the steel Superleggera skeleton does. 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 likely that past repairs have been affected here. Volante convertibles are the most suspect of course and look closely for cracking between the fuel fillers and the boot lid.
      •  

      • Inspect 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 so vet well.
      •  

      • 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.
      •  

      • Even if the car has been previously restored, badly fitting doors probably indicate a warped or badly restored chassis.
      •  

      • 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.

    Three Of A Kind

    JAGUAR E-TYPE
    JAGUAR E-TYPE
    If there was an unloved E-type then it had to be the bloated looking 2+2 launched a few months after the DB6. A fatter cat for all the family to enjoy, the rear seats were only suited for small children but the longer wheelbase did add more room and ride comfort although it’s the least exciting E-type especially if an auto. However, the 2+2 seemed more suited to the S3 V12. If you’re after a more affordable E-type then these fatter cats certainly provide it.
    JENSEN INTERCEPTOR
    JENSEN INTERCEPTOR
    Another British supercar of the mid 60s, the Interceptor is finally becoming more appreciated for its GT character and prices are moving away from their once bargain basement levels. Old school American hardware means it’s both tough and fairly easy to maintain at home. Original 6.3-litre Chrysler V8 is a bit like the Jag XK 3.8 engine insofar it feels the more thoroughbred over the later 7.2. FF is more complex so don’t buy if you don’t require four-wheel drive.
    BENTLEY CONTINENTAL
    BENTLEY CONTINENTAL
    Here’s a decent more modern alternative to the DB6 for a quarter of the price. Essentially the Continental is coupé-bodied Mulsanne Turbo and is one of the best prestige bargains on the block when you consider how much Astons, E-types and even Interceptors can sell for. Shortened Continental T has even more power and sharper handling while SC is for sun seekers. Not overly dear to run but buy the best you can and cheap cars are usually neglected.

    Verdict

    The Connery connection and the DB5’s 15 minutes of fame in Goldfinger will always ensure that, for many, it will always be the Aston to own. But all things being equal, a DB6 is the better driving car and we reckon the wiser buy, especially as a DB6 still trails Connery’s classic by some 30 per cent! Be very careful of that at first glance ‘affordable’ barn find or basket case – it may not be the road to riches you first dreamt as restos cost a lottery win. If you can, go for the Mk2 as it’s even further improved and a lot rarer – only 254 coupés and 38 convertibles were made. Fifty years on this DB is a hit for six.



    User Comments

    This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

    Leave a comment

    Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

    Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

    Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%

    Subscribe