The World's Most Timeless GT

The Aston Martin 'DB'

The New DB9 is the latest incarnation of a classic model bloodline that sits at the heart of the Aston Martin range. The 'DB' moniker has adorned some of Aston Martin's most iconic cars, a badge that signifies engineering excellence and the highest quality of craftsmanship.

With over fourteen individual models or derivatives having borne the 'DB' marque, we look at the provenance of the name and profile some of these historic models.

Aston Martin


In 1947, a small British automotive manufacturer was up for sale after falling on hard times during the Second World War. After answering a newspaper advertisement, agricultural and engineering entrepreneur Sir David Brown purchased the company for just over £20,500. He set about revitalising the business, focused on producing a car which improved on the 'Atom' a prototype constructed in 1939.

Learn More about David Brown

Aston Martin


The result was the 'Two Litre Sports', however retrospectively the model has become known as the 'DB1' as it was the first vehicle produced under David Brown's tenure. Debuted at the 1948 London Motor Show, 15 examples were produced.


The first car officially to bear the 'DB' badge, DB2 was presented publicly at the 1950 New York Automotive Show with production of over 400 examples continuing until 1953.

Bringing racing success at both Le Mans and Sebring using the Lagonda derived 'straight-6' engine, 'DB2' whet David Brown's appetite for continued investment in Aston Martin and specifically the production of track cars.


The result was the DB2/4 and DB Mark III, models further enhancing the engineering quality and race performance for Aston Martin through the 1950s. With many of the iconic Aston Martin styling cues which continue to be used today, such as the front grille, being introduced on these models the DB 2, 2/3 and Mark III laid the foundation for modern Aston Martins and more immediately, three cars which have left an indelible mark on British motoring history, DB4, DB5 and DB6.


Aston Martin started work on the DB4 in 1956, at the same time as the DB Mark III. The key people involved in the development of the DB4 were General Manager John Wyer, Chassis Designer Harold Beach, and Engine Designer Tadek Marek. Every major component in the DB4 was new. The four-seater body was designed by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, using their 'Superleggera' construction method in which aluminium panels are fixed to a tubular frame built onto a substantial platform chassis.

The new car was shown at the London Motor show in 1958, sharing a stand with the DB Mark III which was to continue in production for almost a year. The DB4 was the first production car capable of 0-100-0 mph in under 30 sec. claiming to reach the 100 mph mark in 21 seconds. The iconic DB4 heralded a new era for Aston Martin and put the company back in competition with other high performance sports car manufacturers.


In October 1959, at the London Motor Show, an exciting new development of the DB4 was unveiled. With a shorter chassis, faired in headlamps and an uprated engine with 3 Weber carburettors, the DB4GT was designed to be equally at home on road and track. The DB4GT was 85Kg lighter than the DB4 and was raced extensively with success by many famous drivers of the day. 75 ‘Touring’ bodied cars were built including several lightweight versions produced specifically for racing.

DB4 GT Zagato

In 1960 the DB4GT Zagato was revealed, clothed in a stunningly beautiful and lightweight body from the Italian coachbuilder. Only 19 examples were produced and this rarity is reflected in their high value today. Four chassis numbers of the original series remained unused and in 1991, four “Sanction II” Zagatos, bodied in Italy were produced. With one of the 'Sanction II' examples selling for £1.23million in mid-2012, 'Sanction II' and the subsequent 'Sanction III' DB4GT Zagatos are highly collectible.


Often billed as the “most famous car in the world”, James Bond’s gadget laden Silver Birch DB5 in Goldfinger became many a schoolboy’s dream. Regarded by many as the most beautiful Aston Martin produced, the DB5 shares much from the DB4, but with a substantial change under the bonnet. The engine capacity was enlarged to 4 litres by increasing the bore to 96mm. The car had three SU carburettors, as fitted to the outgoing DB4 Vantage, and also shared the latter’s fared in headlamps.


Clearly evolved from the DB4 and DB5, the new model was announced at the London Motor Show in October 1965. The most noticeable styling changes on the DB6 were the Kamm tail rear spoiler, which improved high speed stability, the split front and rear bumpers; a redesigned oil cooler aperture in the front valance, and a longer wheelbase, giving an overall length of 462 cm. The increase of space in the rear made the DB6 a more practical family proposition.

'Volante' is Born

The last thirty-seven DB5 chassis were used in conjunction with some DB6 design cues to build the desirable Aston Martin Volante (often called Short-Chassis Volante), completed between October 1965 and October 1966. This was indeed the first Aston Martin convertible to be called a ‘Volante’ – a derivation of the Italian word for ‘flying’. A naming convention in place for all Aston Martin GT convertibles to this day.


By the early 1990s it was obvious Aston Martin would need to increase production in order to survive. Victor Gauntlett suggested that a smaller Aston Martin should be built alongside the big V8 Astons, a car that could be sold in all markets and that would be less expensive. The new design, code named NPX, was engineered in conjunction with Tom Walkinshaws TWR group. Aston Martin revealed the DB7 at the Geneva Motorshow in 1993, with production starting in 1994 at a new factory in in Oxfordshire.


Launched to acclaim in 2003 at the Frankfurt Motor Show with a Volante following in 2004, DB9 was the first car to be produced at Aston Martin's new Gaydon Headquarters. Powered by a V12 engine, the 'DB' name skipped '8' to avoid the perception that the car incorporated a V8 engine. This was also the first Aston Martin to be developed on the VH (Vertical / Horizontal) Platform which underpins all Gaydon produced cars. This advanced engineering platform allows for unparalleled production flexibility and engineering excellence.

The New DB9

With such an illustrious model line spanning over 50 years, creating the latest 'DB' was an incredible challenge. We combined our greatest design, engineering and technical expertise to produce a car which like it's predecessors is timeless in name and elegant in design. The best DB9 we've ever produced.

The New DB9