Aston Martin DB7 Coupe





Aston Martin DB7 Coupe

Year of production 1993 - 2004

Model: DB7 (1993 - 2004)

Wikipedia (DB7): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aston_Martin_DB7

The Aston Martin DB7 is a car to polarise opinions. Devotees will tell you that it was the first Aston truly dependable enough to be driven every day, the first you could leave out in the street and be sure it would function in the morning as, say, a Porsche would. It was also the first Aston built with modern high(ish)-volume methods to proper, consistent quality standards, and it sowed the seed of the company Aston Martin has since become. 

Today a DB7 can seem almost irresistibly cheap for a car with those looks and that badge, never mind the pace potential. You can buy one for as little as £16,000. So how can you lose? 

A powerful part of its appeal 19 years after launch is that it was the car that saved the company. So, how did the DB7 come to be? Aston Martin had been floundering after the Victor Gauntlett era, as it had so often before, and this particular new dawn involved the Ford Motor Company, which already owned Jaguar. Ford needed the venerable Aston brand to pay its way and forge a future. 

This called for a cheaper model able to be built in greater numbers, and a rummage through the corporate cupboard uncovered just the starting point – an abandoned proposal for a Jaguar XJS replacement. Designer Ian Callum reworked the ingredients into a svelte and credible Aston Martin shape. 

Under the bonnet was an AJ16 Jaguar straight-six engine, which gained an Eaton supercharger to help extract 335bhp from the 3.2-litre capacity, and while the XJS-derived platform was clearly dated, having first appeared 19 years before the DB7’s 1994 launch, it did the job. 

Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) carried out the development and ran the factory at Bloxham, Oxfordshire where the DB7 would be built, having just finished producing Jaguar XJ220s. The DB7 was also the first (and last) Aston Martin with a steel monococque structure, although it did add some newer bodywork technology with its heat-pressed composite front wings and bootlid. Early cars had composite bonnets, too, but the panel gaps proved both inconsistent and heat-relatedly mobile, so later cars had a steel panel. 

So there’s not as much bespoke Aston Martin in a DB7 as a purist might like. The ‘Jag in drag’ references of the time are a bit harsh, though, because even the Jaguar-derived parts had Aston-specific calibration and development, and a DB7 looks like a proper Aston both outside and in. 

It’s better to think of the DB7 as a new beginning, as the starting point for today’s company with its Gaydon factory and the V12 engine, which began life in 1999’s DB7 Vantage. 

Which one to buy? 

The DB7 was made in bigger numbers than any Aston before it, with 2451 six-cylinder cars leaving the factory before the V12 replaced them and took production to its 2003 end. In total, 7091 DB7s were built, including Volante convertibles. Today’s Aston production rate, however, far eclipses those figures. 

Now that the DB7 is coming out of its wilderness years, this means that really good ones can be worth more than commonplace early DB9s and V8 Vantages. 

Because a DB7 is more exclusive than the Jag XK8 rival, it looks sleeker and, perversely, its imperfections now take on the aura of a classic car’s character. Besides which, a six-cylinder one handles beautifully and goes with great verve, although the more common (75 per cent of production) four-speed automatic with the engine detuned to 317bhp might not be a petrolhead's cup of Earl Grey and is worth around 20 per cent less. 

Or there’s the V12, initially with 420bhp, later with 435 as the Vantage GT; it’s very quick and sounds wonderful, the GT especially covetable with its mesh grille, bonnet vents, shorter gearing, uprated brakes and keener handling. Manuals are more common with this engine at around 40 per cent of production. Although early cars were never the the most accomplished drivers' cars, the last-of-the-line Vantage GT is a much improved proposition – something that is reflected in the price. 

The Aston Martin DB7 was also the basis for a couple of special Zagato-bodied cars. Just 99 standard coupe versions were built, as well as 99 AR1 models. AR1 actually stands for America Roadster 1, due to being exclusively offered in the USA, although obviously a handful made it to other countries. 

Performance and spec 

  • Engine In-line 6-cyl, 3228cc, supercharged 
  • Power 335bhp @ 5750rpm 
  • Torque 361lb ft @ 3000rpm
  • Transmission Five-speed manual (or four-speed automatic), rear-wheel drive, limited-slip diff
  • Weight 1700kg 
  • 0-60mph 5.8sec 
  • Top speed 157mph


Common problems

  • A full and detailed service history is a very nice thing to have, because infrequent oil changes can clog the hydraulic timing-chain tensioner in the otherwise very durable straight-six. The rattly chain that will eventually develop is pricy to replace. 
  • The V12 is also a very reliable engine on the whole, and it was the first appearance of an engine that has remained in production to this very day. There are a couple of things to look out for though, one of which is the engine's occasional habit of breaking down one of the 12 individual coil packs. This is generally due to heat and age, causing misfires. It's often easy to miss on a test drive, as even on 11 cylinders the Aston Martin remains smooth and refined. As they are hard to get at, replacement can be expensive – so proof of recent replacement  (of all 12) by a specialist, although generally not always necessary is always a bonus.
  • Have a good look underneath, where rust can take hold – more likely in a V12, oddly, because cost-cutting led to less protection. Front floorpans, inner wings and suspension turrets, rear radius-arm mountings and rear chassis legs are the trouble spots. Getting the car on a ramp is the best way to see everything, and it will pay in the long run to get a car with no structural issues.
  • Although much easier to spot, you should also be on the look out for the beginnings of rust on the the wheelarches and door bottoms. Another possible area for concern is the bottom corner of the rear window aperture, which can make an otherwise nice example look scruffy.
  • Look in the service history for checks of the suspension’s fully adjustable alignment, too; the tyres wear quickly if it’s out, while the car will not feel planted on the road.
  • You’re unlikely to find an original composite bonnet on an early car because most have been replaced with a steel one. As well as the gap problems, a composite panel goes porous if its outer layer is perforated and bubbles duly appear. 
  • The six-cylinder DB7’s boot-mounted badge can trigger this, which is why the V12 doesn’t have one.
  • On the steel panels, rear wheelarch lips and the bottom corners of the rear window aperture are worth a close check.
  • The sumptuous interior is durable and high in quality, but try the air-con because blockages can blow the evaporator apart if the car isn’t used regularly. Fixing this involves removing most of the interior.
  • Damp carpets could be from a failed windscreen-to-scuttle seal. 


Model history 

  • 1993: DB7 makes debut at Geneva
  • 1994: First customer cars delivered
  • 1996: Volante launched
  • 1999: V12 Vantage replaces six-pot DB7
  • 2002: Run-out DB7 on sale (GT, GTA); Zagato launched (delivered 2003)
  • 2003: Zagato Vantage Volante, DB AR1, unveiled; 99 made. Final DB7s built.


Summary and prices

‘Any six-cylinder DB7 worth having will start at around £25,000,’ cautions Derek Campbell, MD of the Chiltern Aston Centre (www.chilternaston.co.uk). ‘Any less than this and you must have it inspected thoroughly. Provenance and how it has been looked after are vital. And low-mileage, manual cars are worth the most.’ 

At the other end of the scale, late Vantages can nudge £50,000, especially if it’s the open Volante version or the final, limited-run GT. And if you find one of the 99 Zagato-bodied versions, you'll encounter a price tag far into six figures. 

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Photo gallery Aston Martin DB7 Coupe

1994 Aston Martin DB7 Coupe
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Manuals Aston Martin DB7 Coupe  |  DB7 Upload new manual

Repair manuals (1) Add

Year Document Language Size Pages
1996 aston martin db7 workshop manual.pdf English 9.31 MB 421

Engines


Year from-to Engine code Fuel [ccm] Cylinders [kW] [Nm] No. of
valves
1993 2000 AJ16 gasoline 3 239 6 / In-Line 250 488 24

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