Aston Martin DB7, DB9 and V8 Vantage from £20k 2017 / 2018

Bargain Astons! From £20k DB7, DB9 and V8 Vantage: British greats for Mondeo money. Affordable aristocrats. Why settle for a new repmobile when you could have a spectacular Aston Martin? Malcolm Thorne revels in the appeal of the DB7, DB9 and V8 Vantage. Photography Tony Baker. A selection of sleek sub-£40k GTs from a British legend. Aston’s biggest bargains Supercar performance for saloon money: DB7, DB9 and V8 Vantage.

style=”flat” size=”4″]Aston Martin. Is there a more blue-blooded name in the world of grand tourers? This British institution has always evoked an image of well-bred sophistication, combining effortless pace with discreet authority and an impressive motorsport heritage. It’s a quintessentially English marque that evokes any number of upper-class clichés – well-connected gentlemen with a penchant for horsepower racing down to their country retreat.

Of course, noble ancestry and a title don’t necessarily equate to vast wealth. All too often that sprawling rural pile is a one-way ticket to insolvency, and cynical folk might say the same of an Aston Martin. You don’t walk into the showroom with an eye on residuals: buy something from the current range and you can lose £30,000 within 12 months.

Aston Martin DB7, DB9 and V8 Vantage from £20k

Aston Martin DB7 vs. Aston Martin DB9 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage road test

Yet one man’s folly can be another man’s opportunity. The DB7 has long been a bargain, but you might be surprised to learn that not one of our featured trio – DB7, DB9 and V8 Vantage – need set you back much more than £30,000 today. You can pay more for a new BMW 3-series, and we’re not even talking about an M3.

Such remarkable value for money is a corollary of relatively high production figures and the belief that these cars are in the racehorse/ yacht bracket when it comes to running costs. Whether that reputation is justified or an unfair slight against the marque, it’s difficult to ignore the lure of cut-price entry into such an exclusive world, but what are you getting for your money?

The oldest of our trio is the 165mph DB7. Unveiled at the Geneva Salon in 1993, it was such a hit that by the end of its run more had been built than the combined total of every other model in the firm’s history. Without it, there would be no Aston Martin today.

Doubters have always been keen to knock this first ‘mass-produced’ effort, writing it off as a bastardised Jaguar, a cash cow with which paymaster Ford (which owned both marques) milked Aston’s illustrious history. It wasn’t even built at Newport Pagnell, they will point out, the car having been engineered by TWR and assembled in the former XJ220 plant at Bloxham.

Yes, it was based on the platform of the XJ-S and beneath the Eaton supercharger its 335bhp straight-six (i6 to the cognoscenti) may have been suspiciously similar to the unit that you’d find in a contemporary Jag, but does that really matter? The DB7 certainly represented a new direction for Aston Martin. After two decades of increasingly outdated dinosaurs, lovingly hammered out of aluminium on a shoestring budget, the car boasted a steel monocoque – the only one to date in the firm’s history, if you discount the Toyota-based Cygnet – that was clothed in unequivocally beautiful bodywork.

Ian Callum’s artwork deserves to be revered alongside the all-time greats: this is one of the most attractive vehicles ever to turn a wheel. Look hard and you’ll see evidence of some careful bean-counting (by Ford standards, it was produced for a miniscule amount of money). The exterior doorhandles and ignition key are a bit out of place, for example, but the DB7 pulls it off nonetheless – and the Mazda rear lights look far better than they ever did on the donor.

Sink into the cabin and it’s much the same story. The bits and bobs have been purloined from within the Blue Oval empire, but the amount of time that’s likely to have passed since you last sat in a Granada isolates you from the humdrum origins of the componentry. Instead, you focus on the soft leather and glossy veneers that defined luxury British interiors of the mid- 1990s. It’s a nice place to be, and is beginning to feel suitably traditional in its appeal.

Fire up the 7’s ‘six’ and the sophisticated calm continues. It’s very subdued, with no histrionics or silly tantrums. The featured example is fitted with the optional four-speed automatic, and as you release the sill-mounted handbrake and take up drive you’re left thinking that this is all most agreeable. Mixed parentage or not, it is how I’d always imagined an Aston Martin would feel before ever driving one: quietly purposeful, supremely comfortable and respectfully brisk.

Truth be told, earlier Astons can feel somewhat agricultural. This car, in contrast, is a delight, blessed with precise, perfectly weighted power steering, a superb ride and a feeling of having been carefully conceived in the true GT idiom. It’s wonderful, and emits a fabulous howl from its supercharger. No wonder it won such praise in period, in spite of the Autocar road test embarrassingly ending in flames.

Parked alongside, the DB9 looks like nothing more than a chiselled update of its predecessor, but looks can be deceptive. Initially styled by Ian Callum, it was refined by Danish-born Henrik Fisker. He explains: “When I started at Aston Martin, it had no design studio, so we had to build our models and do the class-A surfacing at the Jaguar studios – and they were all part of Ford. That created a lot of confusion about who did what, especially in the press.”

The DB9 borrowed its profile and proportions from the DB7, but beneath the skin there was some futuristic engineering. In fact, Aston skipped the DB8 moniker in order to emphasise how big a leap forward it was. There would be nothing as mainstream as a steel monocoque here, that structure being superseded by an exotic bonded-aluminium blend. Baptised VH (for Vertical/Horizontal), the new platform made its debut on the 2001 Vanquish and has since been adapted for every production model.

The DB7’s success had clearly bolstered the piggy bank, enabling Aston to invest heavily in its future. There’s no sign of penny-squeezing penitence in the DB9, or indeed in the factory where it was made – production shifted from Bloxham to a new state-of-the-art facility at Gaydon. The sophistication extended beyond the aluminium extrusions and assembly plant, too. Both the cabin and the outer skin have a more complete, bespoke feel to them.

By the time the new model was unveiled at Frankfurt in 2003, the motor industry’s perception of luxury had moved on considerably. The shiny varnish of the DB7 has been replaced by a subtle satin finish to the timber, matched to stylish brushed aluminium. The abundance of hide remains, however, and there’s a gorgeous suede headlining (a common theme of all three cars, in fact). The general ambience has an almost architectural quality to it, a slick feeling of late-20th-century modernism.

After the airy cabin of the DB7, the DB9 feels more enclosed. The scuttle and waistline are noticeably higher relative to the seat, meaning that, if you’re jockey-sized, you won’t be able to see much beyond the dash top. It makes the DB9 feel more hefty, less suited to threading through traffic or the confines of a multi-storey car park. Yet it compensates for that when it comes to the aural thrills. There’s nothing amateur about these dramatics: the DB9 makes a sublime noise.

Switch on the ignition with the key then prod the illuminated glass button in the centre of the fascia; the V12 gives a gentle growl to announce its presence. It’s electronic trickery, of course – a pre-programmed come-on whose only role is to flirt with your senses – but it works.

‘Our’ car is fitted with a six-speed paddle-shift transmission, but if you’re of a lazy disposition you’ve got a row of buttons across the dash that fully automate your progress. Whichever you choose, the DB9 is genteel and easy-going, the sort of thing in which you could potter around minding your own business. But find yourself a stretch of open tarmac, switch on the Sport setting then floor the throttle – that docile dozen bares its fangs with a vengeance. After the DB7, this big, heavy GT feels massively fast.

The 48-valve V12 was first seen in the Ford Indigo concept of 1996, and entered production in the DB7 Vantage three years later. Although that car was intended to complement the i6, it’s easy to see why the junior version was swiftly withdrawn – this is an incredible motor. In essence, the AM04 is a brace of Ford Duratec 3-litre V6s nailed together, but this 5935cc monster is comfortably the equal of anything to have emerged from Maranello or Sant’Agata. When you reach extreme velocities – and it’s impossible to resist when you’re given the opportunity on a test track – the DB9 remains rock-solid, calm and reassuringly benign. It feels as if it could carry you to the end of the world and back in the space of an afternoon without either of you breaking into a sweat.

And if, as you tear along at warp speed, some dullard in a Daewoo forgets to check his mirrors, the 1710kg leviathan will stop dead in less than the time it takes for your knuckles to turn white. The arresting power of those vast ventilated discs is as absolute as that of the traffic officer who will relieve you of your licence should you think about approaching the Aston’s electronically limited 183mph maximum.

It may lack the gently sprung and relaxing gait of its predecessor, and it may suffer more noticeable tyre roar, but as transcontinental GTs go, this one is mightily impressive. No wonder it went on to spawn such a successful contender in international motorsport, the DBR9 collecting a brace of class wins at Le Mans.

The word ‘sport’ brings us neatly to the final member of our trio, the V8 Vantage. If the DB7 had introduced the concept of a volumeproduced Aston and the DB9 had refined the idea, the Vantage built upon that successful formula, expanding the marque’s appeal to a younger audience. This would be the smallest, most agile and most nimble modern Aston yet, a shrink-wrapped sports car far removed from the hand-made antiquities of yore.

“The Vantage was a new market entry for Aston Martin,” says Fisker. “I designed it to have a strong emotional connection, both for traditional owners and new ones. The sporty design was a risk, but I was willing to take that risk – and it paid off. The tight proportions equal short overhangs, and I think it has the ultimate stance without any compromise.”

Launched in 2005, the two-seater features the same VH aluminium architecture as the DB9, albeit with 6in lopped from the wheelbase (and another 6in from its overall length), but had a sharper, more focused role. This was Aston Martin’s attempt at muscling into Porsche 911 territory, and muscle is the operative word here. With 380bhp from its AM05 V8, the baby Aston could hit 100mph in 11.5 secs.

Like the DB9, the Vantage is as docile as a kitten around town – although the six-speed ’box needs a firm hand – but breach 4000rpm and a thunderous roar will erupt, leaving you searching for the nearest tunnel in which to deafen yourself. The dry-sump V8 – front-mounted, but sitting well back for a near-ideal 51:49 weight distribution – was of a new design. Based ever-so loosely on the unit to be found in 1990s Jaguars, it was unique to Aston Martin. And, as with the V12s, it was hand-assembled in Cologne.

Its punch makes the car feel monumentally fast, but there’s more to the Vantage than raw figures. The steering feels pin-sharp and the grip is colossal; you can flick it from one lane to another at lunatic autobahn velocity, or throw it around your favourite twisties with unbridled glee – it just takes it all in its stride.

The Vantage’s running gear followed established Aston Martin practice: double wishbones and coil springs at each corner. Allied to vast 235/45 ZR19 tyres on the front, and even wider 275/40s on the back, it grips with such ferocity that I suspect only the insane would contemplate inducing oversteer on a public road. When they tried it on a circuit, the brave testers at Autocar not only lived to tell of the tail, as it were, they also praised its controllable nature. The Vantage, then, gets an emphatic thumbs up.

“When I joined Aston, it sold only about 1400 cars a year,” says Fisker. “When we launched the V8 Vantage and the DB9, we reached more than 7000 cars per year and Aston Martin made a small profit for the first time. Even today, the Vantage is the best-selling Aston ever.

“My influence when designing them was the ultimate British gentleman – a bit of James Bond and a bit of the groomed business executive. The cars do not have body-builder muscles. They’re athletic, elegant, understated and sporting.”

All three, in fact, are achingly stylish in the long-established Aston Martin tradition, but for hardcore thrills the Vantage is the way to go, while for those seeking a more laidback lifestyle the DB7 would be the obvious choice. Somewhere in between lies the DB9, which perhaps makes it the cream of the crop and explains why prices are already beginning to climb.

Personally, the delicious shape of the DB7 is enough for me to declare it my favourite, but whichever you chose, one thing is clear: for the price of admission, this trio is unbeatable.

Thanks to Tim Foster at Byron International; Tim Cottingham and Nikki Wright at the Aston Martin Owners’ Club:; Mark Rowthorn; David Elswood; Christopher Knight.

Clockwise: DB7 must rank among the most beautiful designs ever — i6 is easily identified by separate repeaters and foglights; supercharged 3.2-litre ‘six’; wing vents reflect Aston Martin’s heritage. From main: DB9 feels wonderfully composed through bends; handassembled 5.9-litre V12 offers massive torque and sounds fantastic; the D-shaped lights are Fisker’s favourite feature. Clockwise: DB9 retains the sill-mounted handbrake of the DB7 but everything else in the slickly styled cabin is new; cocoon-like rear is far less airy than that of earlier car; plaque proudly proclaims that the Aston is hand-built. Clockwise: Vantage fascia mirrors that of the DB9; motor doesn’t look special but makes a spine-tingling sound; vent flows neatly into flank; red lenses of early versions replaced by white on later models; two seats only in hardcore V8. Clockwise: soft, organic shapes and glossy walnut veneer dominate the DB7 cabin; rear light clusters look bespoke but were taken from the ungainly Mazda 323F; beautifully trimmed individual back seats for children only. The short-wheelbase V8 Vantage echoes the profile of the DB9 but is a strict two-seater. Below: styling has evolved from curvy to chiselled, yet all three are instantly recognisable as an Aston.



Sold/number built 1994-’1999/6895 (all)

Construction steel monocoque with composite nose and bonnet

Engine all-aluminium, 3239cc straight-six with Eaton supercharger and Zytek multipoint electronic fuel injection

Max power 335bhp @ 5750rpm

Max torque 361lb ft @ 3000rpm

Transmission five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, driving rear wheels

Suspension independent, by wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers; anti-roll bar f/r

Steering power-assisted rack and pinion

Brakes ventilated discs, with servo and ABS

Length 15ft 3in (4646mm)

Width 6ft (1830mm)

Height 4ft ¾ in (1238mm)

Wheelbase 8ft 10in (2691mm)

Weight 3914lb (1775kg)

0-60mph 5.6 secs

Top speed 165mph

Mpg 18

Price new £78,500 (’1995)

Now from £20k

Owner’s view MARK ROWTHORN

“I grew up near Newport Pagnell and would see new Astons parked outside the works. The DB5 and DB6 are out of my price range, but when I realised that DB7 values had bottomed out I decided it was now or never. That was three years ago. The car gets regularly serviced and I tend to do preventative maintenance. I did quite a bit of research before I bought it, and this one was the best that I saw: another looked great until I pushed up the floorpan and my hand went through! I opted for the i6 fixed-head because it best reflects Aston’s heritage. The shape better fits the ethos of quiet sophistication, while the ‘six’ provides a great driving experience and sound. I plan to keep it as long as possible.”

The rival MASERATI 3200 GT

Launched four years after the DB7, the 3200 was also pivotal to its maker’s longterm survival. After countless iterations of the Biturbo, ItalDesign’s sexy GT finally gave Maserati a curvaceous new look. Powered by a twin-turbo 3.2-litre V8 it was certainly quick, with a top speed of 174mph. In 2001, it was uprated to 4244cc and 385bhp, but lost its signature taillights. Not only is it a credible DB7 rival, we found one for sale at a scarcely believable £7995.

The specialist

“Get any potential purchase independently assessed,” says Philip Jones of Byron International ( “For a six-cylinder DB7, have it looked at by a specialist. For V12s and V8s, have a pre-warranty inspection done by a franchised dealer. That will cost £250-500 but it’s a wise investment. Remember: the most expensive Aston Martin will be the cheapest one, and vice versa.

“The i6 is becoming quite sought-after. It’s finally been accepted as a ‘real’ Aston, and as prices of the DB4, 5 and 6 have spiralled, some owners of those are selling and looking to replace them with an affordable six-cylinder.

“Manual transmission is increasingly popular, and many people prefer a lightcoloured interior. These cars seem to stand up well to regular use, but servicing is crucial. Avoid anything that’s been in a heavy shunt or needs a lot of work. Corrosion can be an issue with the DB7, as can faulty aircon, which is hidden behind the dash. V12s have a coil for each plug and replacement is £1500-1800, so ensure that they don’t need changing.”



Sold/number built 2004-’2016/16,500

Construction bonded aluminium structure with aluminium, steel, composite and magnesium panels

Engine all-aluminium, dohc 5935cc 48-valve V12; Visteon engine management

Max power 450bhp @ 5750rpm

Max torque 420lb ft @ 5000rpm

Transmission six-speed manual or Touchtronic, driving rear wheels

Suspension independent, by wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers; anti-roll bar f/r

Steering power-assisted rack and pinion

Brakes discs all round, with servo and ABS

Length 15ft 5in (4697mm)

Width 6ft 2in (1875mm)

Height 4ft 4in (1318mm)

Wheelbase 9ft (2740mm)

Weight 3769lb (1710kg)

0-60mph 4.9 secs

Top speed 186mph

Mpg 19

Price new £103,000 (’2004)

Now from £30k (2017)

Owner’s view DAVID ELSWOOD

“The DB9 is one of the prettiest cars ever to leave a drawing board. I’ve had mine for two years and try to exercise it on a regular basis, although I only managed 1000 miles in 2016 – I’ll try harder in 2017. I’ve had no issues with it, and use Newlands Motors in Forest Row for servicing.

“Before the DB9, I’d had Caterhams and quite a few Porsches but decided that I needed more comfort and a better heater. I also own a Vantage Roadster. Although similar in some respects, they are very different but you certainly get the price of admission on both when you hit the starter button. Besides the Astons, I have a 911, Boxster and Honda S2000, plus three Suzuki SJs – a personal obsession!”


With its 5748cc V12 pumping out a feisty 532bhp, this vast Italian 2+2 – like the DB9, it boasts a bonded aluminium structure – can crack 60mph in around 4 secs and nudge 200mph. Some have criticised it for lacking that special fizz that marks out the best prancing horses from the also-rans, but in this context its greatest failing is its price. At £80,000-plus, you would be able to bag yourself a brace of DB9s for the cost of a single Scaglietti.



Sold/number built 2005-present/21,200

Construction bonded aluminium structure with aluminium, steel, composite and magnesium panels

Engine all-aluminium, dohc, 32-valve 4300cc V8, sequential fuel injection

Max power 380bhp @ 7000rpm

Max torque 302lb ft @ 5000rpm

Transmission six-speed manual, driving rear wheels

Suspension independent, by wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers; anti-roll bar f/r

Steering power-assisted rack and pinion

Brakes ventilated discs with servo, ABS

Length 14ft 4 ½ in (4380mm)

Width 6ft 1 ½ in (1865mm)

 Height 4ft 1 ½ in (1255mm)

Wheelbase 8ft 6 ½ in (2600mm)

Weight 3594lb (1630kg)

0-60mph 4.9 secs

Top speed 175mph

Mpg 17

Price new £79,995 (’2005)

Now from £30k

Owner’s view CHRIS KNIGHT

“When I attended the 1976 Motor Show and saw the Lagonda ‘wedge’, I was instantly hooked on Astons. As far as the Vantage is concerned, it’s the compact size that caught my eye. I’ve owned it for two years and have had no problems, but I keep the battery on a trickle charge. It can discharge if not used, which can apparently mess with the electrics.

“It was one of 100 Astons at last year’s Concours of Elegance and driving in a convoy towards Windsor Castle was a sight to behold. I’d highly recommend the Vantage, particularly an early one. In my opinion, these cars are closest to how Henrik Fisker imagined them and are in their purest form. It’s a keeper: no amount would prise it from me.”


Stuttgart’s rear-engined icon remains one of the world’s great sports cars. Packing a 350bhp punch, the Porsche also boasts a brilliant chassis – dynamically, it edges the baby Aston, even if, for some buyers, it may be a bit too mainstream. A plentiful supply means that they are cheap, though – £20,000 seems to be the starting price for a 997 – and you can’t argue with the performance figures: 0-60 in 4.6 secs and 182mph. The German build quality goes without saying, too.

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