When Ford talks about buying up other brands, it can lead to fireworks. History has taught us this in no uncertain terms. Look at the GT40, for example – that exists because Henry Ford II tried to buy Ferrari in the 1960s and was ultimately rebuffed by Il Commendatore, so the fabled Le Mans racer was effectively built out of spite and revenge. And when Ford bought Carrozzeria Ghia? It ended up way down the line being, er, a badge glued to slightly speced-up Mk6 Escorts. When Ford’s accountants open up their cheque books, you can’t always guess which way it’s going to go – but what you can guarantee is that it’ll certainly be interesting. This proved itself to be the case in 1987 when the revered national institution of Aston Martin passed into the hands of the Blue Oval. With their subsequent tenure resulting in such icons as the DB7 and Vanquish, ‘interesting’ clearly presents itself as something of an understatement here.
The return of the iconic DB badge in the 1990s was cause for much excitement, as the beloved DB6 had gone out of production way back in 1970. And the DB7 was a thoroughly nineties-flavoured model too: the elegant coupe/roadster was Aston Martin’s first road car to make extensive use of composite materials - and it was engineered by Tom Walkinshaw Racing on Aston’s behalf, with all cars being built at a newly-acquired factory at Bloxham, Oxfordshire which had previously served for the assembly of Jaguar XJ220s. The car offered a thoroughly respectable 335bhp from its supercharged 3.2-litre straight-six; a credible, bona fide, traditional Aston Martin that was also modern, mass-produced, and reliable.
The total production run of the DB7 amounted to around 7,100 units, which was a really phenomenal figure for the brand at the time. Refracting the Aston Martin values through the Ford filter led to something truly desirable, and it makes for a compelling proposition today.
This DB7 Volante was first registered in April 1997, which places it about two-and-a-half years into the model’s production run. We can see from the history that the car has always been looked after by specialists, and the genuine low mileage is testament to how it’s been cherished as a treat; the current owner acquired the DB7 in May of this year, but the owner before him had it since 2008 and, living in central London, covered only around 2,500 miles in his last three years of ownership. We can see by the overall condition, the fact that the underside of the car appears not to have been troubled by the vagaries of salted roads, that the door shuts and seals are impressively clean rather than wearing years of grime and leaf detritus, that this is a car which has been generally kept indoors and used sparingly.
The reason for sale, after a relatively short tenure? Quite simply that the current owner is a collector who was keen to scratch a long-held DB7 itch; now that he’s enjoyed the Volante for a summer of top-down motoring, it’s time to focus on the other cars in the collection and move on to the next acquisitions.
The car comes with a full service history, the majority of which has been carried out by Aston Service London and Chilton Aston Centre. The service book is a duplicate issue, but stamped and showing that the car has received the care it demands over the years. As well as the original owner’s manuals, we find paperwork detailing all of the regular service work over the years, as well as reconditioned differential in 2007, a replaced sports shift button, and assorted other jobs. An invoice from 2015 shows the front wheel bearings being replaced, the radiator reconditioned, and the radius arms replaced. The DB7 also comes with three keys, including the original red key.
The dark blue leather interior is one of the more desirable colour-ways for the DB7, which offsets the silver exterior beautifully. The interior appointments are tidily presented, as befits a car with such low mileage; the front seats are showing only a very minor patination (which would be very easy to restore to an as-new look) with no separating stitching of bolster squash, while the rear bench is unmarked. The seats recline forward correctly for rear access, and click back into place as they should. There’s no undue wear to the leather gear knob or wood-trimmed steering wheel, and all the gauges are functioning correctly. What’s very important to point out is that there are two areas which are renowned for presenting issues when it comes to DB7s, and neither of them are a problem with this car: the first is that the air-conditioning can stop functioning, but in this car it’s working perfectly and has recently been re-gassed so it’s ice-cold. The second is that the electric roof mechanism can misbehave, but that’s not a concern here, the hood raises and lowers exactly as it’s supposed to. The car is fitted with an aftermarket (removable) windbreak, allowing all-seasons top-down motoring.
There’s a set of rubberised overmats fitted; the carpets underneath are in good condition, and the DB7 has its original Aston Martin sill plaques. The wood trim in the dash is all well presented, there are no cracks in the dashtop, and all of the buttons and switches do what they’re supposed to do.
Inside the boot, the carpets are very tidy and underneath the boot floor we find the original spare wheel, jack, warning triangle and tools along with an Alpine CD-changer to complement the Alpine radio-cassette in the dash.
The Malvern Silver paint is beautifully presented, and suits the car’s elegant lines superbly. The original alloy wheels have been refinished in a darker grey to provide a contrast, and the aesthetic effect of this is very satisfactory indeed. All of the correct trim and badges are in place, and the light lenses are in good condition with everything working properly. The doors hang correctly and close with a satisfying surety, and the dark blue roof has decent seals without undue wind noise; the roof was given a specialist cleaning and treatment in 2016 and still looks great today. There are no noticeable scratches around the door handles or stone chips in the nose, and the only surface corrosion of note is on the flip-up arm of the fuel filler.
The wheels are fitted with Continental tyres which have plenty of tread. The underside of the car is impressively solid and straight with no signs of corrosion, as you’d expect of a car that’s spent much of its life garaged. The seller points out that the DB7 is currently wearing a private registration number (masked in our photos) which will be removed on sale, and the car will most likely be reissued its original number of P77 AJD.
The AJ6 straight-six engine is celebrated for its torque and its smoothness, making it a perfect partner for the DB7s gran turismo credentials. Appearing in this chassis in supercharged form, it offers an effervescent and unstressed 335bhp, the presence of an Eaton supercharger really invigorating the motor. Being a 1997 car, this DB7 is fitted with the revised automatic transmission which shifts a little quicker than that of earlier models (lopping around half-a-second off the 0-62mph time), and with this particular car we find everything throughout the drivetrain to be in correct working order. It doesn’t have a lot of miles under its belt and it’s always been correctly maintained; the most recent service was in June of this year, by marque specialists Chicane. This involved a full service including fluids and filters and bleeding the brakes, as well as refilling the soft-top pump with hydraulic fluid. A new battery was also fitted in September. The owner reports a highly enjoyable drive, with a strong engine, slick-shifting transmission, and no issues of note from the brakes, steering or suspension. The car has only covered around 500 miles since its full service, and passed its MOT with no advisories in August.
The DB7 Volante is an extremely attractive proposition for the 2020s. Wearing the iconic David Brown badge has always been the marker of a connoisseur’s choice, and the DB7 sits in a particularly interesting niche for that sub-brand; appearing as part of a reinvigoration for Aston Martin as the Ford influence came in for the 1990s, this car acts as genesis for every Aston since. There’s a very recognisable design language carried across all models from the nineties to the present day, and it all began with this one. In supercharged six-cylinder form, there’s a purity to this 3.2 Volante which fuses all of the best elements of sports car and grand tourer to create something truly desirable: aside from the fact that the design has aged so tremendously well (stick an ageless plate on it and very few teenage onlookers would believe this car is 23 years old), it’s just a really pleasant place to be. The DB7 cabin is designed to be cosseting yet focused, and with a perky chassis beneath you and a continent-munching motor up front, there are a few cars better suited to simply throwing down the roof and forgetting about the world.
Fancy a jaunt down through France for a cocktail in Casino Square? This is the car for you. Need a pint of milk from the corner shop? The DB7 will be equally entertaining for that too. It’s a car of many talents – and having been so fastidiously maintained, this one will continue to be thoroughly pleasant and fun for many years to come.
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