A high-luxury, high-performance car, the Aston Martin DB7 is a sexy car that combines world-class comfort and speed into a hot little package. A British manufacturer of luxury sports vehicles, Aston Martin Lagonda Limited was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. Considered by many to be the most attractive Aston Martins of all, the DB7 is reputed to being the most successful model the British performance car manufacturer has yet created. Spanning a production lifetime from 1994 until 2004, more than 7,000 models of the 2-door, 4-seater coupe or convertible had been design and produced worldwide. Numerous variations and two engines were offered.
The prototype was finished by November 1992 and debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1993. Styled by Ian Callum and Keith Helfet, the DB7 grand tourer was available in September of 1994. Positioned as an 'entry-level' model, the six-cylinder DB7 was placed beneath the hand-built V8 Virage that had been introduced several years earlier. The most produced Aston Martin ever, more than 7,000 DB7's were constructed before being replaced by the DB9.
Known on the inside as the NPX project, the DB7 was constructed mostly with Jaguar resources and with the financial backing of the Ford Motor Company, which was the owner of Aston Martin from 1988 until 2007. Evolving from the Jaguar XJS's the DB7's platform underwent numerous changes. The styling began with the Jaguar F type, designed by Keith Helfet before Ford cancelled this car and the general design was spliced into an XJS platform. Ian Callum crafted several moderate changes to make it look more like an Aston Martin. Though the Aston Martin was much more rare and expensive, the first generation Jaguar XK-8 uses a development of the XJ-S/DB7 platform and the cars share a familial semblance.
Engineered in Kidlington, Oxfordshire by Tom Walkinshaw Racing on behalf of Aston Martin, the DB7 engine continued to be constructed in Kidlington during the production run of the car.
Early in production years the 3.2 liter supercharged straight-six engine with 335 horsepower was standard and came with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Also available was a supercharged six-liter V12 engine that produced between 420 and 435 horsepower. With the V12 was a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. With the supercharged engine, the new DB7 Coupe could reach 0-60 mph in just 5.8 seconds and had a top speed around 160 mph.
A new factory was set up at Bloxham, Oxfordshire where every DB7 would be constructed throughout its production run, when production of the Virage continued at Newport Pagnell. The DB7 and its siblings were the only Aston Martins produced in Bloxham and the only ones with a steel unit construction inherited from Jaguar. Traditionally Aston Martin had utilized aluminum for their car bodies, but after the DB7 the cars used aluminum for the chassis along with many major body parts.
In 1996 the convertible Volante version was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Both versions featured a supercharged straight-6 engine that produced 335 bhp and 361 lb/ft of torque. Convertible models featured a power roof and automatic climate control, remote entry, wood trim, a CD-changer audio system, unlimited power options and much more. The Coupe sold for the $140,000 in the U.S. and the Volanta for $150,000. A special Driving Dynamics package was introduced by Works Service, which enhanced the driving performance and handling for drivers who wanted a bit more than the standard configuration.
The commanding DB7 V12 Vantage was debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999. Featuring a powerful 5.9-liter, 48-valve, the V12 engine produced 420 bhp and 400 lb/ft of torque. The second generation DB7 model, the vehicle was available in the same two body styles, the Coupe and convertible Volante. They were fitted with a newly-designed cooling system. With a compression ratio of 10.3:1, the transmission options were available with either a TREMEC T-56 six-speed manual or a ZF 5HP30 five speed automatic gearbox. The manual gearbox aided the V12 in achieving a top speed of 186 mph while the automatic gearbox got it 165 mph. It was capable of reaching 0-60mph in just 4.9 seconds. The V12 had an overall weight of 3,968.3 lbs, was 4,692 mm long, 72 inches wide and 48.9 inches high. Unfortunately the sales of the supercharged straight-6 engine DB7 had sunk drastically following the introduction of the Vantage, so production ceased by mid-1999.
A new variant was introduced in 2002, named V12 GT or V12 GTA variant when equipped with an automatic transmission. Basically a better version of the Vantage, its V12 engine produced 435 bhp and 410 lb/ft of torque. This new version was much more appealing than the Vantage and featured a mesh front grille, a spoiler in the rear, vents in the hood, an aluminum gear lever, new wheels and optional carbon fiber trim. The rear vented disc brakes were made by Brembo and had 14.0 inches in front and 13.0 inches in the rear. In 2003 on Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson tested the vehicle and demonstrated the ability to pull away in fourth gear and continue until its hit the rev limiter at a speedometer indicated 135 mph.
A variety of special edition DB7 cars were constructed and included the 1998 Alfred Dunhill Edition where 150 'platinum metallic' cars were produced with a built-in humidor. This same year a Neiman-Marcus Edition was created with 10 special blacks cars being produced for the '98 Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue. The 1999 Stratsone Edition included 19 special black cars, 9 of them coupes and 10 Volantes. The '98 Beverly Hills Edition included 6 'Midnight Blue' cars, 2 of them being coupes and 4 Volantes. To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 the Jubilee Limited Edition produced 24 'jubilee blue' cars made for Europe and 26 cars for the U.S. A few 2002 Keswick Limited Edition were a few 'nero Daytona black' model cars. To commemorate the end of DB7 Vantage production the 2003 Anniversary Edition a total of 33 'slate blue' cars were produced.
Late in the DB7's production run two special edition variants were introduced; the DB7 Vantage Zagato and the DB AR1. The Zagato was a special limited-edition grand tourer produced by Aston Martin/Zagato. Debuted at the Paris Motor Show in October of 2002, the Zagato immediately sold out. Only 99 examples were sold publicly, though one extra was made special for the Aston Martin museum. Much like the DB7 Vantage that it mimicked, the Zagato was controlled by a 6-speed manual transmission and powered by a 6.0L V12 engine. Built on a shortened chassis unlike the future DB AR1, the Zagato had a top speed of 186 mph and could achieve 0-60 mph in just 4.9 seconds.
The other special edition variant, the DB AR1 was also a limited-edition grand tourer produced for the U.S. market by Aston Martin and Zagato in 2003. The name stood for American Roadster 1 and was introduced at the L.A. Auto Show in January of 2003 without a convertible top. Based on the current DB7 Vantage Volante convertible, the DB AR1 featured an updated body style with coachwork by Zagato. The car used the 6.0 liter, 48-valve, V12 engine from the V12 Vanquish. Much like the Vantage Zagato, only 99 examples were produced for sale, and one additional example built exclusively for Aston Martins factory collection. The DB AR1 could achieve 0-60mph in just 4.9 seconds and had a top speed of 186 mph.Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson