Comebacks are, more often than not, rather exciting. When Charlie Sheen returned from his rollercoaster of unhinged rants to the comforting bosom of network television, the entertainment world was on the edge of its seat. Ozzy Osbourne’s dramatic form on reality TV bonanza The Osbournes showed a man visibly damaged but undeniably triumphant. When Paul Weller knocked Wild Wood out of the park in ’93, the vagaries of the Style Council were all but forgotten as the Modfather returned reborn. It’s true to say that comebacks are, assuming you ignore the ill-fated Spice Girls musical, generally considered to be pretty stonking news.
Such was the case with Aston Martin’s revival of the legendary DB nameplate in the mid-1990s. The iconic and revered DB6 had gone out of production way back in 1970, leaving a rather sizeable pair of shoes to fill – but the fresh DB7 tackled the task with admirable aplomb. This was a thoroughly nineties-flavoured model: 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 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.
1999 was the year in which the DB7 truly achieved its full potential, with the launch of the DB7 Vantage. Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, this sensational evolution featured a 5.9-litre 48-valve V12 engine, providing a mind-warping 420bhp and 400lb.ft. Aesthetic differences were limited to redesigned wing mirrors and larger fog-lamps mounted under the headlights, but that Vantage badge on the tail was doing all the heavy-lifting here: it’s a name that carries a lot of weight with Aston Martin aficionados. And with the V12 engine it deserved, the DB7 Vantage was the supreme grand tourer the model was always destined to be.
This is a car that really has led a pampered life right from the start. The original owner chose a wonderful spec, picking out Chiltern Green paintwork with a two-tone Parchment and Dark Green hide interior, and the paperwork shows that it’s always been carefully looked after by specialists. Furthermore, it’s been used sparingly and with admirable restraint, clocking up just 12,735 miles in the twenty years of its life – that equates to under 700 miles a year on average! So as you’d expect, it’s in outstanding condition, and ready for a new keeper who can appreciate this for what it is: quite possibly the finest V12 Vantage on the market.
The DB7 comes with all the correct manuals and handbooks in the original Aston Martin ring binder, and the car has a full service history with the most recent service being carried out by specialist Nicholas Mee (on 15/09/20 at 12,438 miles). The dealer stamps up to 2007 are from Lancaster Sevenoaks, with HWM Aston Martin in Walton-on-Thames looking after the car between 2008-14; since then it’s been serviced by Nicholas Mee and Aston Service London. The genuine mileage is fully backed up by the service history as well as the MOT history. Also in the file we find a sheaf of receipts showing all the work that’s been carried out on the car over the years, including one from 2014 detailing that the rear crossmember was removed so that it could be shot-blasted and powder-coated along with the diff cover and jacking points. At this time the sills and footwell plate were treated with underbody anti-corrosion protection, and earlier in 2014 the front bumper brackets were renewed along with the headlamp foam strips and grille brackets. It is believed the previous owner bought the car from Nicholas Mee & Co in 2015, at which time the selling price was £39,950.
Well, just look at it – truly magnificent to behold, is it not? It would have been so easy for the original owner to play safe and spec the car with black leather, but the decision to go with a two-tone affair in Parchment and Dark Green was a masterstroke. It’s got something of the contemporary TVR about it, with its swooping curves and stylish lines, but of course all finished in impeccably trimmed and sublimely appointed Aston Martin quality. This is a manufacturer that really knows about interiors.
It's all in outstanding condition too, as you’d expect of a car with so few miles on the clock. The front seats are free from signs of wear, while the rear looks like it’s never been sat in. The carpets are in excellent condition and still have a nice springiness to the pile, and the headlining is unmarked, which is a tricky thing to achieve with a lining in such a light colour! The wood trim on the dash and door cards is impeccable with absolutely no signs of sun damage or lacquer peel, the dash top is in superb order with no cracks or discolouration, and there’s no visible wear to any of the switchgear. All of the dials, lights and buttons work as they should, it really is remarkably fresh in there.
Inside the boot we find everything dry, clean, and in good order; the original Aston Martin umbrella is mounted inside the boot lid along with the warning triangle, and under the floor we find the original Alpine CD changer, with the Alpine V12 amplifier mounted at the back of the boot.
The Chiltern Green paint suits the DB7’s curves perfectly; it’s a body design which has aged extremely well over the years, still feeling elegant, stylish and contemporary, and it really does look splendid in this tasteful shade of paint.
We were unable to find a single stone chip, scratch, scuff or ding on the bodywork, it’s evidently a car which has been treated with great care, and the panel fitment is uniformly excellent. There are no faults with the window glass, and all of the light lenses are in undamaged condition. The pretty wheels show no signs of corrosion or kerbing and are shod with quality Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres with plenty of tread. All of the correct badges, grilles and trims are in place and in good order, and the exhaust tails sit correctly in their apertures. It’s not uncommon to find DB7s with slightly wonky nosecones due to the brackets being weak, but this car has had them replaced and it all fits straight and true. A very striking machine indeed.
The drivetrain of this car is extremely impressive: that 5.9-litre V12 engine is a true polymath, being at once a subtle and willing cruiser with plenty of low-down torque, and a hysterical banshee on demand. The fitment of the five-speed ZF 5HP30 automatic transmission certainly aids the former element of the character, allowing the Aston to waft with consummate smoothness.
As you’d expect of a low-mileage package that’s always been so well looked after, the engine is a superbly willing unit in very good order, firing immediately and settling to an even idle; it pulls strongly and eagerly, with no leaks or rattles and all the right temperatures and pressures, and the transmission shifts smoothly and in a timely fashion. The steering, brakes and suspension are all in fine fettle with everything doing what it should. This isn’t a car which comes with a list of jobs to do. Everything appears to be just as you’d hope it to be.
The appeal of this DB7 can be very easily quantified, and yet the most alluring part is the very essence of the car’s character. On paper, it all makes sense: a very-low mileage example with a perfect service history, in arguably the best possible colour scheme inside and out. The condition is fabulous, the appearance is glorious, and you could readily make the case that this is just about as close as it’s possible to get to looking at an as-new V12 Vantage – it certainly doesn’t look or feel like a car from a couple of decades ago.
But forget the logic. The key to this car’s mystery is the ethereal element of mystery itself. It is, quite simply, an irresistible example of what the DB7 should be – it’s got the right engine, the right specs, and it really feels like fate and posterity have been keeping it safe for you, wrapped in cotton wool, trapped in amber, ready to enjoy in 2021 just as it would have been in 2001. A true timewarp, straining at the leash to be enjoyed.
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