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As part of our search for the most iconic British cars of the last 60 years (head over there to vote for your own favourite) we’re looking at some of Britain’s best-loved cars in a little more detail. Today, we finish our run with a look at a car from another great British marque: Aston Martin’s world-beating DB5
Ah. The clink of a cocktail glass. An arched eyebrow and a flash of elegant, nylon-clad thigh. Seconds later, a car wheels away down a mountain pass, pursued by a helicopter, the lights glancing off its long, sinuous bonnet as the steely-eyed driver eases it at impossible speed along the tarmac.
If anything has come to symbolise the mythological world of British spycraft, it is the Aston Martin. As entwined with James Bond’s indentity as his Walther PPK and Vodka Martini (shaken, not stirred) the Aston’s image has been exported worldwide through the longest-running and most successful film franchises of the last century. Aside from brief flirtations with Lotus and (pah!) BMW, Bond’s car has to be the Aston – and perhaps the DB5 is the most famous of all. Of course, one could take one’s pick of the DB5, DBS or even the more recent versions, but we’re plumping for the DB5 as the ultimate embodiment of the image.
In its classic form, just 1023 DB5s were produced between 1963 and 1965. Boasting a 4 litre engine that packed a 282bhp punch the 2+2 coupé remains the epitome of the grand tourer and the benchmark against which such cars are measured. In eschewing the outré visual dramatics preferred by Italian design houses, the Aston set the the tone for which British luxury cars became known – understated elegance and a velvety finish that belied ferocious performance.
So timeless was its design that its successor – the DB6 – practically borrowed all of its styling cues from the car, and its influence can still be felt in Aston’s current model line up.
Sadly, no road-going version of the car ever boasted ejector seats, although we can’t help but feel that a car with rotating number plates would be a positive boon to people unenamoured of automated number plate recognition or the London congestion charge in particular.