Aston Martin hit the jackpot with the DB4, 5 and 6 series. When the DB4 was launched in 1958, it was ahead of its time and showed that the UK could match the Italian's exotics. The styling of the DB4, 5 and 6 was by Touring of Milan. At first, the Superleggera (super lightweight) bodies were built in Italy and shipped to Aston Martin's works. Eventually the bodies were constructed in the UK.
The outer skin was in aluminium with small steel tubes supporting it to a strong steel chassis. The all-alloy 220bhp, 3.7-litre twin-cam engines and four-speed ZF gearboxes gave the DB4a top speed of 224kph with a 0-100kph time of 8.9 seconds.
Interior refinement was high. Aston Martin's racing experience gave the company a huge technical advantage. In 1959 came the DB4GT. The headlamps were now under perspex covers, while power rose to 272bhp and a five-speed ZF became standard. With their twin-spark plug heads and three triple Weber carburettors, top speed rose to 246kph, with 0-100kph in just 6.1 seconds. Only 75 DB4GTs were built, with Zagato producing 19 more, and 70 DB4 convertibles were built out of a total DB4 production run of 1,010 cars. Needless to say the GT and the Zagato GT command extremely high prices.
The DB5 arrived in 1963. It became a movie star icon thanks to James Bond films. In 2010, one of the James Bond cars (there were four) sold at an RM Auction for over Dh15 million. The standard DB5 adopted the covered-in headlamps from the DB4GT. Engine size rose from 3.7 to 4.0-litres, and there was a new ZF five-speed ‘box and three 2in SU carburettors. Almost 1,000 DB5s were made. Options included a Vantage engine (triple Webers and more power). Only 123 convertibles and just 13 estate versions were built.
In 1965 things got fat. The DB6 saw an extra 4in (102mm) added to the wheelbase and a higher roof line to improve rear accommodation. A kicked-up tail improved high-speed stability and was useful for identification. Touring's lightweight aluminium had given way to heavier steel pressings, although the most powerful versions (up from 282bhp to 325bhp) could still max out at 240kph with 0-100kph in six seconds dead.
In 1969 the final version, the DB6MkII, arrived with wider wheels and with fuel injection as an option. There were also cockpit adjustable rear dampers, power steering and air con, and Aston also produced a convertible — the DB6 Volante was manufactured until 1971, with production running to around 2,000 examples.
HRH Prince Charles's DB6 Volante was lent to Prince William and Kate Middleton as their wedding getaway car.