Something For The Weekend – Aston Martin DB4-6

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For many, the DB4-6 models are the most sought-after Aston Martins ever built and, by default, some of the world’s most desirable cars, but sadly they have prices to match – no doubt boosted by the James Bond link.

None of this should be a surprise, though, because the cars combine Italian-inspired styling with powerful twin-cam six-cylinder engines – a formidable force by anyone’s reckoning.

In the late ’50s, Aston Martin’s owner David Brown appreciated that the DB2/4 – with its heavyweight chassis – couldn’t compete with the pressed-steel monocoques sported by much of the competition. A revolution was needed, and it came in the form of Carrozzeria Touring’s patented Superleggera construction.

This featured a steel substructure of welded, lightly pressed panels with a superstructure of small-diameter steel tubes on top. The two were then welded together to form a stiff unit, clad in light aluminium panels.

It certainly convinced the automotive press of the time, with The Motor calling the DB4 ‘a remarkable express carriage for those who can afford to travel First Class’ – a description that rings true even now.

So, if you are one of the lucky few in the market for one of these cars, settle for nothing less than an example that is smooth, civilised, rapid and perfectly balanced. Opting for anything less could mean that crippling bills lurk around the corner.

And don’t think that this applies just to the DB4: even the DB6 demands an oil change, suspension lubrication and other servicing every 2500 miles.

A through inspection is crucial and, if you are spending this kind of money and are less than 100% confident, enlist the help of a professional.

They are likely to check areas such as the front valance, the frame behind the bonnet landing area, the Superleggera tubing around the front and rear ends, the pedal support outriggers and the sills (particularly the jacking points). It is also worth inspecting the door bottoms, chassis (where the rear trailing arms mount) and the chassis boot support.

Check for signs of regular maintenance, such as suspension lubrication, and look for crude plating.

While underneath, inspect the diff. A choice of ratios was offered, with the higher options more suitable for modern roads, while an LSD was optional, except on the DB6 MkII where it was standard-fit.

That wonderful engine also needs to be properly investigated, because the cost of repairing it can be mind-blowing. As always, oil and water leaks signal monetary danger (lots of it in this case), also make sure the two are not mixing and for adequate antifreeze levels.

It also pays to talk to people who have lived with the cars, on sites such as www.amoc.org and www.astonmartins.com.

None of these Astons are bargains (unless you have a vivid imagination) so we’ll content ourselves with the cheapest that we could find – currently this 1966 DB6 Vantage, which will set you back £134,950.

Owned by an Aston Martin Owners’ Club member for the past 20 years, it has an extensive history, has been converted to run on unleaded fuel and sports triple Weber carburettors. The automatic gearbox probably saps some of the power, though.

‘Just’ £100k more could land you this super-desirable 1963 DB4, which features in the current issue of C&SC. Restored from the chassis up and finished in fantastic Forest Green, this car looks the part and comes with a 12-month warranty and a history file documenting its rebuild.

But for some there can be only one choice – the DB5.  Described as ‘flawless’, this is another ‘nut and bolt’ restoration car, but has covered just 700 miles since the work was completed and is priced at a cool £450,000.

With any of the DB4-6 models, you are buying a car that combines a sporty drive with the long-legged ability of a GT and an impeccable pedigree. Use this guide to help and you’ll avoid the pitfalls that could ruin the dream.

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