1964 Aston Martin DB5
Year of manufacture1964
Number of seats2
The ex-Rob Walker
1964 Aston Martin DB5 Sports Saloon
Registration no. 877 EAM
Chassis no. DB5/1579/R
Engine no. 400/1584
Aston Martin's post-war evolution took a giant step forward in 1958 with the launch of the DB4. Classically proportioned, the Carrozzeria Touring-styled body established an instantly recognisable look that would stand the marque in good stead until 1970 and is still being referenced in today's Aston Martins. At its launch in October 1958, the DB4 marked a major turning point for Aston Martin as it was the first car of the David Brown era which neither used a chassis derived from the experimental Atom of 1939 nor an engine co-designed by W O Bentley. Moreover, it was the first Aston Martin to carry Touring's 'Superleggera' bodywork, in which light alloy panels were fixed to a supporting framework of light-gauge steel tubes. This method of body construction had been deemed incompatible with the DB2/4-type multi-tubular spaceframe, so engineer Harold Beach drew up an immensely strong platform type chassis. At the front, the DB4's suspension featured unequal-length wishbones instead of the DB2/4's trailing links, while the live rear axle was now located by a Watts linkage instead of the preceding Panhard rod.
The Aston Martin DB4 was also the first of the DB models to employ the entirely new engine designed by Tadek Marek, which had first been seen at Le Mans the previous year in the DBR2. An all-alloy, twin-overhead-camshaft six like its predecessor, Marek's new 3,670cc engine featured 'square' bore and stroke dimensions of 92mm and developed its maximum power of 240bhp at 5,500rpm. The David Brown gearbox was a new four-speed all-synchromesh unit.
Five (unofficially designated) series were built as the model gradually metamorphosed into the DB5. Introduced in July 1963, the latter boasted a 4.0-litre engine, this enlarged unit having been seen first in the Lagonda Rapide of 1961. Equipped with three SU carburettors, the '400' engine produced 282bhp at 5,500rpm and was mated to a four-speed/overdrive gearbox, a 'proper' ZF five-speed unit being standardised later.
The DB5's distinctive cowled headlamps had first appeared on the DB4GT and the newcomer was the same size as the lengthened, 'Series V' DB4. Outwardly there was little to distinguish the DB5 from the last of the DB4s apart from twin fuel filler caps, though these had already appeared on some cars. Beneath the skin however, there were numerous improvements including alternator electrics, Girling disc brakes instead of Dunlops, Sundym glass, electric windows and an oil pressure gauge as standard equipment.
From September 1964 the 314bhp, triple-Weber Vantage engine became available and was fitted to a total of 95 cars. The DB5 was also offered in convertible form (the 'Volante' name would not be applied to the soft-top Aston until the DB6's arrival) while independent coachbuilder Harold Radford offered a shooting brake conversion. 1,021 DB5s were manufactured between July 1963 and September 1965, a total that included 123 convertibles and 12 shooting brakes.
The DB5 was the first and remains the most famous of all the 'James Bond' Aston Martins, having appeared in no fewer than five movies of the series, beginning with Goldfinger in 1964. Equipped with rocket launchers and sundry other gadgets, 007's DB5 was finished in Silver Birch with red interior, in which specification it was later issued by Corgi Toys.
Chassis number '1579' was retailed via Plough Motors and sold new to R R C Walker of Corsley Garage, Corsley near Warminster, Wiltshire. This first owner was none other than Rob Walker, Johnnie Walker whisky heir and founder of the most successful privateer team in Formula 1 history, whose landmark achievements include the first ever F1 Grand Prix wins for Cooper and Lotus.
Registered '877 EAM', the Aston was originally finished in Caribbean Pearl with dark blue Connolly leather interior, while chrome road wheels is the only item of non-standard equipment listed. Only one additional owner is listed on the copy build sheet: Lt Col Raymond Johnson-Ferguson of Eaglesfield, Dumfries, though the change is undated. The DB5 formed part of Lt Col Ferguson's private collection alongside his Aston Martin Ulster ('BJJ 527') and various David Brown tractors.
'877 EAM' was acquired by Gordon Willey in October 1993. The only maintenance records on file consist of invoices for various works carried out by marque specialists Chris Shenton Engineering of Hanford, Staffordshire during October and November 2001 at 83,835 miles. In addition, there is a solitary MoT certificate on file, issued in May 2005 at 84,109 miles, together with a V5C registration document and further invoices relating to the car's storage at Jonathan Wood's premises from November 2011 onwards. Following its lengthy period out of use, careful re-commissioning will be required before this elegant 'Gentleman's Express' returns to the road.