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Short Chassis Volante
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1965 - 1966
Numbers built:37
Predecessor:Aston Martin DB5 Convertible
Successor:Aston Martin DB6 Volante
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 19, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIntroduced at the 1958 London Motor Show, the Aston Martin DB4 combined very elegant Italian styling with Aston Martin's fabulous platform chassis and race-proven six cylinder engine. Although demand was high, production started slowly due to teething technical problems. These were addressed in varies evolutions, referred to today as 'series'. By 1963 and in its fifth series, the DB4 evolved into the DB5.

The single biggest change compared to the DB4 was the introduction of a four litre version of the Tadek Marek designed straight six. The increase of displacement saw the output of the twin-cam engine rise to 282 bhp for the 'standard' version running with triple SU carburettors. The DB5 was also the first model to have a five-speed ZF gearbox available as an option. An automatic gearbox was also available but only a handful of cars were fitted with this option.

The steel platform chassis remained largely unchanged. Suspension was by double wishbones at the front and a live rear axle. Girling disc brakes were fitted all around. The design of the Touring body was also a subtle evolution of the DB4 with the covered headlights as first seen on the Vantage version of the DB4. Using Touring's 'Superleggera' principles, the DB5's aluminium body panels were mounted on a steel frame, providing a balance between light weight and strength.

The DB5 was available as a fixed head coupe and a convertible, which came at a 5% premium with an optional hard-top roof. Apart from the obvious changes, the Convertible could also be distinguished by a dashboard finished in the exterior colour. Another option was the 'Vantage' engine, which featured triple Weber carburettors. These resulted in a power increase of 32 bhp for a claimed total of 314 bhp.

In 1964 the Aston Martin DB5 achieved instant fame as the car of choice of James Bond in the motion picture 'Goldfinger'. The legendary MI5 agent used a 'Silver Birch' DB5 equipped with a choice of extras like Browning machine guns behind the front marker lights and bullet-proof shield behind the rear window. The undisputed star of the movie, the DB5 immediately became one of the most desirable cars in the world. DB5s would feature in three more James Bond movies.

After 1023 examples (898 coupes and 123 convertibles) were built, the DB5 was replaced by the DB6 in 1966. This made it by far the most successful Aston Martin produced until the modern era. Anticipating the introduction of the new drop-head DB6, Aston Martin produced a run of 37 open cars based on the DB5. Dubbed the 'Short Chassis Volante', this was the first Aston Martin model to use the 'Volante' type name.

Thanks to its elegant lines and its movie career, the DB5 is generally considered the quintessential Aston Martin. Like most Aston Martins, the DB5 has a stunning survival rate but they are nevertheless highly sought after. In 2010 one of the two DB5s used in the movie Goldfinger was offered at RM Auctions' Automobiles of London sale, where it changed hands for a startling £2.6 million.

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  Article Image gallery (38) Chassis (2) Specifications