There are few things more British than driving a Racing Green classic Aston Martin from the company’s original headquarters in Newport Pagnell. Disappointingly, I had forgotten my late father’s tweed jacket and cap in South Africa but the weather was playing along and I was nevertheless quite comfortable at the wheel of a DB6 Mk2 Vantage.
The interior is an intoxicating combination of solid materials and Smiths Instruments dials behind the large steering wheel crafted from wood and metal. That vintage smell entices you into the appropriately aged leather seats to absorb what one of the most illustrious British manufacturers has to offer. The plush environment is highlighted by the comfortable leather upholstery, matching coloured carpets and the wide transmission tunnel separating you from your passenger.
The keyhole is to the left of the steering wheel next to the clock, while the view over the long bonnet includes a sight of the centre air intake. As with other British cars from the same era, there are two fuelling caps, one at each C-pillar for the single fuel tank. This is very practical for customers who take their cars across the channel to the continent, where pumps are on the other side.
There is even enough headroom in the driver’s and passenger seats; not always the case with these 50-year-old cars. The luxurious trim is also evident in the rear: the comfortable seats are sculpted to offer your body the necessary support with wide armrests on the outside.
Being a 2+2 GT, these were proper sports tourers at the time. They begged to leave town and so we headed for the quieter green country lanes.
While 240 DB6 Mk2s were produced, this is one of only 71 which left the factory with the Vantage engine. This makes it more sought after and expensive than the other “standard” models. They are the last of the true DB range, the cars that most of us associate with the DB5 which Sean Connery drove in the 1964 James Bond film, Goldfinger.
This vehicle still features its period-correct radio and has been reconditioned by the company’s heritage department, Aston Martin Works (see April 2019), which included an overhaul of the engine. More importantly, the new owner will receive a one-year Aston Martin warranty. Part of that offering is that the carmaker traces the car’s history. In this case, chassis number DB6MK2/4256/R was produced in April 1970 and was originally a Burnt Almond colour, but was painted British Racing Green along the way. It was evidently a treasured example, as it had several Concours successes in 1979, ‘85 and ‘86. Its owner was a member of the Aston Martin Owner’s Club in the UK.
Back behind the wheel, there’s a sense of this classic’s pure mechanical nature which a modern car will never be able to replicate. The gearlever, situated on top of the transmission tunnel, has a solid shift action, although it requires patience when changing gears. It is also much better positioned than on some of the later models.
The foot pedals are slightly offset to the right but never intrude on your driving. The throttle response is more sensitive than I expected (especially once the engine is warm and driving at speed), but the main surprise is its torque delivery. Compared with Porsche 911s of the same period – which usually prefer high revs – the DB6 can potter around at the bottom half of the range and still pull with serious intent. From as low as 2 500 r/min, there is already a welcome urge and the redline starts at 5 500 r/min. You rarely feel the need to rev it to that point, but at least when you want to, there’s great fun to be had as you ring it round the dial.
There is a deep six-cylinder burble emanating from the double exhaust pipes which changes in pitch the moment you press the throttle pedal. I definitely understand the appeal of these cars, whether driving through the Scottish Highlands or taking it on a jaunt across the English Channel.
We parked the Aston for a final few photographs and opened the engine lid to peer at the beautiful straight-six engine with its polished metal and green ignition leads. Fortunately, no covers hide this beautiful machine. To limit engine noise, the lid is padded with sound-deadening and heat-resistant materials, and there is even a small light bulb to light up the area. Needless to say, a true aristocrat’s car.
Want your own James Bond DB5?
Following Aston Martin Works’ success with building the limited-number DB4 GT Continuation models, in 2018, the company confirmed it would manufacture
25 units of the DB5 as featured in Goldfinger, and yes, they’ll boast most of the gadgets seen on the movie car. These include oil spray and smokescreen delivery systems, rotating number plates, deployable bulletproof rear shield and even a simulated version of the radar-tracking display. There was the challenge of installing pseudo-machine guns. This system will feature an electrical actuator, ultra-bright light bulbs and sounds from a loudspeaker, all to make it as authentic as possible. The person in charge of the project is Oscar-winning special effects guru Chris Corbould.
It might not come as a surprise that these cars will not be road legal in any major market. The retail price will be a hefty £2,75 million (±R52 million) excluding taxes. Of the 25 produced, a number have already been allocated to collectors. Deliveries will start in 2020.
FAST FACTSModel: 1970 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2 Vantage
Price: ±R10 million
Engine: 4,0-litre, six-cylinder, petrol
Power: 210 kW
Torque: 380 N.m
0-100 km/h: 6,3 seconds
Top Speed: 241 km/h
Transmission: 5-speed manual