MI6 traces the story of how the DB5 become the world's most famous car...

Aston Martin DB5 - Road To Success
23rd September 2003

Aston Martin's reputation as the quintessential British luxury sports car started back in the 1950s, years before Mr Bond or Q-Branch had got their hands on one.

During the 1950s, models such as the DB2, DB2/4 and the DB Mk III brought the company much success, and built the platform to allow the company to venture into bigger, better, more expensive models in the 1960s.

The story of the DB5 begins with, as it's name would suggest, the DB4 back in 1958. Built at the now famous Newport Pagnell factory, the DB4 was constructed of a simple steel chassis with a slick light-alloy body. Styled by Italian outfit Superleggera Touring, the car grabbed attention for it's looks - but under the bonnet lay the key to it's popularity. A brand new 3.7-litre twin-cam six-cylinder engine brought power to the people, delivering Ferrari performance and racing pedigree.

Five years after the DB4 was productionized, the most famous car in the world was launched - the DB5. Built on DB4 technology, the DB5 improved many aspects of it's predecessor. The engine was suped-up to 4 litres, with two variations available giving a top torque of 314 bhp. The new engine meant the DB5 could reach a breath-taking 140mph, but without power-steering the car handled heavily.

Along with notable bodywork improvements such as the rounded front and improved headlights, nearly every aspect of the car's equipment was upgraded - including an optional automatic gearbox.


Such was the complexity of the car, and due to it's hand-built production processes, the DB5 was not cheap. Costing an enormous £4,175 in 1963, the DB5 could attract the masses but only be bought by the few. Ten cars rolled out of the factory at Newport Pagnell each week, but despite the high price tag, the DB5 lost money for Aston Martin. It was only until years later that this deficit was discovered, as Aston Martin profit margins were not an issue at the time as company owner David Brown was making money through his tractor empire.


Ian Fleming had originally put 007 in an Aston Martin DB Mark III when he wrote the novel back in 1959, but four years later when shooting started, newer models had been produced. Although the DB4 was the current car in production, Eon Productions approached Aston Martin for a new car. Eventually, a special prototype car named DB5 (DP216) was offered, and Q started work on adding the famous ejector seat and other gadgets.

Left: The plate from the original Goldfinger DB5. The car was stolen in the 1990s and was subject to investigation for possible insurance fraud and ransom. The car is still missing.

Something special happened in 1964. Car lovers the world over were fantasizing over the new Aston Martin. Movie lovers were fantasizing over Sean Connery or Honor Blackman. Upon the release of "Goldfinger" in September 1964, the two worlds would collide and the DB5 would begin it's ascent to becoming the most famous car in the world when Q decided to retire 007's Bentley.

The brightest stars often burn for the briefest time, and the end of the DB5 would come in 1965, when the (predictably) named DB6 took over. In only two years of production, a total of 1063 Aston Martin DB5s were produced, and the vast majority of them still survive today.

Related Articles
Aston Martin DB5 - Q-Branch