Go get yourself a nice piece of bespoke GT motoring...
The need for a smaller, more affordable model was recognised within Aston Martin while Victor Gauntlett was still at the helm. However, it was Ford's money after the Blue Oval took charge of Aston in 1988 that allowed the DB7 project to get under way.
Codenamed DP1999, the project that became the DB7 was headed by Rod Mansfield and the car soon came to be referred to as NPX within the Aston factory. More than 30 prototypes were built and tested before the eventual first DB7 production car went on sale in 1994, the car having made its debut at the previous year's Geneva Motor Show.
Claims the DB7 was simply a restyled Jaguar XJ-S are nonsense. The DB7 did use some Jaguar parts, but the DB7 was a fresh design, styled by Ian Callum, and it used a bespoke 3228cc straight-six engine with an Eaton supercharger to produce 335bhp. A soft-top Volante version was always in the production plan, but it took till 1996 for this convertible model to be revealed at the Los Angeles motor show in 1996.
As buyers demanded more power from the DB7, Aston obliged in 1999 by replacing the six-cylinder car with the V12-engined Vantage. A 6.0-litre, 420bhp motor helped raise top speed from 165mph to 185mph and 0-60mph dropped from 5.8 seconds to 5.0 seconds flat with a manual transmission.
This set the template for the remainder of the DB7's life, though Aston launched Zagato and DB American Roadster limited editions, with 99 of each built. There was also the DB7 GT as a last hurrah from January 2003 till September 2004. It arrived as the most potent DB7 model at the Birmingham motor show in November 2002, packing 435bhp for the manual version (420bhp for the auto), though performance remained the same as for the Vantage.
The GT was the curtain call for the DB7, which had done the trick for Aston by securing the company's financial footing. When DB7 production ceased, more than 7,000 cars of all models had been built, which accounted for more than a third of all Astons ever built at that point.
Production numbers: DB7 3.2 Coupe - 1,605 built DB7 3.2 Volante - 879 built DB7 Vantage Coupe and Volante - 4,156 built DB7 TWR - 1 built DB7 Zagato - 99 built DB7 GT - 190 built, plus 112 GTA models DB American Roadster 1 - 99 built
A few years ago I was at a trade show and bumped into Ken Helfet and it was wonderful talking to him about some of the Jaguars that he was involved in designing, in particular the still-born F type. As many will know the car was canned by Ford shortly after they took over at Jaguar. However the styling / design was recyled to become the DB7. Mr Helfet said that the 'graphics' (designers' term) were altered to make it an Aston by Ian Callum. So in future can we give Ken Helfet some credit for the styling of the DB7 please.
Johnboy Mac24 Oct 2011
Great looking car, changed AM for the better. The foundation stone for the current crop of cars, I'd reckon.
''and it used a bespoke 3228cc straight-six engine with an Eaton supercharger to produce 355bhp''
Why was this considered a Jag engine?
anything fast24 Oct 2011
the early models are still some of the best looking cars ever made IMO
the newer models are light years ahead under the skin, but there is something wonderfully simple about the early DB7, proper old skool GT car, no flappy paddles, no computer wizardry.. love it to bits....
Schnellmann24 Oct 2011
Loved the shape and AM in general so took a Vantage for a test drive (must have around 2002)...and was completely underwhelmed. One of the most disappointing test drives I've had. Not that the car was bad but I suppose I was expecting it to be much more sporty (I had a GT3 at that point), whereas it felt very soft. Concluded that I was probably too young for a DB7...wonder whether I have caught up with it yet?
silversixx24 Oct 2011
Always had a soft spot for these
Whilst I'd never refer to one as a 'restyled XJ-S', having stood underneath with both cars up on a four-poster the differences between the two are very few...to say the least.