RE: BBR Astons

RE: BBR Astons

Friday 21st January 2005

BBR Astons

Nick Hall explains how BBR makes the AM DB7 fly...


The Aston Martin DB9 has the rich, the famous and the motoring press collectively salivating like Pavlovโ€™s Dog in a bell factory, and rightly so. But we already know it has less power than the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, Mercedes E55 AMG and even the new M5, and losing out in the inevitable game of boardroom top trumps is likely to annoy a man who has just shelled out ยฃ103,000.

For them, this BBR-tuned DB7 may just hold the key to the carโ€™s salvation.

Brackley-based BBR is based just down the road from Aston Martinโ€™s base in Newport Pagnell, but the first contact director Dave Brodie had with the 6-cylinder DB7 was when he jumped into a customerโ€™s car to head to a meeting. He returned within five minutes, declaring it the slowest pile of overpriced scrap he had ever had the misfortune of driving. Most would have walked away, muttering under their breath, but Dave never backs away from a challenge.

DB7 horses liberated!

He took the engine out and found it wasnโ€™t running close to the 337bhp claimed, but, with a little imagination, he managed to modify the supercharger, remap the ECU and liberate 400bhp and 438lb/ft of torque for just ยฃ2,995 + VAT.

BBRโ€™s modifications give the straight six another push high up the rev range as the 3.9-litre engine homes in on the 7,000rpm limit. Bury the throttle in the lush carpet and this car will yield rewards, but getting there is still a painful experience and I thought for a moment Iโ€™d pulled away with the handbrake jammed on.

The claimed 0-60mph speed of 5.4 seconds for the factory version sounded like pure fantasy from behind the wheel of the modified car that I drove, which is still poor at low revs. BBRโ€™s cheap fix was only designed to make a bad car bearable, though. You canโ€™t get a revolution at that price and you could easily add brake upgrades and any number of other additions to the mod list before this car feels like a tourer, let alone a Grand Tourer.

Still, the six can be obtained much cheaper secondhand now, so this car is for those that desperately want a part of the James Bond myth. Of course it isnโ€™t just about pure speed, this is as much about show as go after all, but this car was truly awful. Even the manufacturer eventually acknowledged it, removing it from the market shortly after the V12 came along.

V12 arrives

The V12 is an altogether different proposition and was greeted like a centrefold in a prison when it came on the scene. This was a machine worthy of the legendary wings, and James Bond behind the wheel, and a car that took the fight to Ferrariโ€™s 550 Maranello. Of course the tatty Ford switchgear wasnโ€™t great, nor the chassis that was based on the same Jaguar XJS technology that stretched back to 1975, but this machine was beautifully finished in swathes of shagpile and leather, looked fantastic from the outside and had that almighty engine.

This particular example is a unique 2003 Volante, retrospectively fitted with the GT kit that was only available on the Coupรฉs in the brochure. This boosted the power to 435bhp and dropped the ride height by 3mm, together with some clever additional bracing to make the most of the 355mm front and 330mm rear Brembo brake discs.

Handling wise the DB7 is mightily impressive, considering its Jaguar roots. Of course the six-litre tended towards understeer, but with a nose only marginally lighter than a 747, that was always going to be the case.

And it's heavy -- 1,863Kg in the case of the drop-top -- but there is a grace about the DB7 that defies its bulk. With the GT pack firmly ensconced, the steering is precise, too, with the wheel sending a gilt-edge advice slip when the tyres start to lose the fight for grip. Itโ€™s easy to drive, too, as one would expect from a car company that still shies away from outright performance.

But the car is merely beautifully made leather and aluminium wrapping for that engine. Eight-five per cent of the torque is available from just 1,500 revs, making this armchair on wheels a serious sporting proposition. While the V6 spluttered down the road like a beached whale making one last lunge for the sea, the V12 bolts like a horse from a gate. And the baritone roar is immense, immense in the way that only a V12 can be.

BBR's added performance

In standard form this car completes the 0-60mph dash in five seconds flat and can reach somewhere in the region of 180mph. It also produces 410lb-ft of torque, which is impressive stuff indeed. In fact the unit is so good that the V12 has enjoyed only minor revisions before finding a home in the engine bay of the DB9. And here is the point.

BBR hiked this DB7s power up to 547bhp and the torque up to 496lb/ft, which gives it more ponies than the Scaglietti. Now a vehicle that is not far shy of two tonnes is never going to transform into a sub-four second supercar, and as it was Aston did a good job with the 0-60mph time, so it was pointless expending the effort in this area.

Instead BBR has concentrated on strengthening the acceleration throughout the range and this car will leave the standard car behind when it comes to mid-range acceleration. On the plus side for those in it, theyยนll get to soak up the awesome exhaust note as this machine disappears into the distance.

And thereโ€™s no reason at all why it should not cannot happen to the DB9. All Dave needs is a willing owner prepared to leave his car at the shop long enough to master the new engine. You can even crate up a DB7 engine, send the ยฃ20,000 cheque wait for the power hike.

You donโ€™t need to work too hard to liberate horses from a six-litre and even Astonโ€™s Chief Engineer, Jeremy Main, believes 600bhp is perfectly possible with this engine. Fear not, as soon as a customer brings their car in and asks, BBR will do it for him.

Author
Discussion

900T-R

Original Poster:

20,389 posts

227 months

Friday 21st January 2005
quotequote all
[pedant mode] Vee six? [/pedant mode]

Guy Humpage

8,742 posts

254 months

Friday 21st January 2005
quotequote all
Would the Jaguar 4.0 version of the supercharged straight-six be a straight swap or is the Aston version modified somehow?

simpo two

76,322 posts

235 months

Friday 21st January 2005
quotequote all
I don't care, I want one

Twin Turbo

5,544 posts

236 months

Friday 21st January 2005
quotequote all
C'mon Shady.....you know you want too

jamesc

2,820 posts

254 months

Friday 21st January 2005
quotequote all
Dave Brodie is the original "Master of going Faster". He also is a master of the TVR S6 and AJP8 engines. I remember the conversion he did on a Griffith. He totally transformed the car.

kevinday

9,135 posts

250 months

Friday 21st January 2005
quotequote all
I was always under the impression that the AM S6 was 3.2 litres as compared with the Jag 4.0. Hmmm....

Adrian472

10 posts

201 months

Saturday 22nd January 2005
quotequote all
The Aston runs a blue printed version of the Jag 3.2 engine, i have driven a modified 7 with a stroked Jag 4.0 too 4.3 and still supercharged was putting out around 480hp mark with a re mapped ecu and boost upgrades etc. Total transformation of a car that should of been so much better than what it was, but its the car that got Aston back on track and the platform for the cars they offer today.

Adrian

EddyB

172 posts

209 months

Saturday 22nd January 2005
quotequote all
Article states that an increase from 435bhp to 547bhp is a change "which wonโ€™t alter performance figures too much"... anyone else find that a strange statement to make?

>> Edited by EddyB on Saturday 22 January 13:05

Twin Turbo

5,544 posts

236 months

Saturday 22nd January 2005
quotequote all
Hmmm, I did wonder.

What would be the point of more BHP is there's no increase in performance, other than bragging rights down the pub?

Phil Dicky

6,824 posts

233 months

Sunday 23rd January 2005
quotequote all
Hmmmmm, with DB7's going for 30k, plus conversion, would yeld a quick yet beautiful car. I would have thought early DB7's shouldn't loose much more money. So in theory should make a good 3/4 year buy. Am I convincing anyone else ????

Phil

hendry

1,945 posts

252 months

Monday 24th January 2005
quotequote all
Adrian472 said:
The Aston runs a blue printed version of the Jag 3.2 engine, i have driven a modified 7 with a stroked Jag 4.0 too 4.3 and still supercharged was putting out around 480hp mark with a re mapped ecu and boost upgrades etc. Total transformation of a car that should of been so much better than what it was, but its the car that got Aston back on track and the platform for the cars they offer today.

Adrian


I am assuming you mean financial platform, as the DB7 is a XJS underneath but the new VH platform in bonded aluminium underpins the Vanquaish, DB9 and forthcoming V8 Vantage thingy - they share nothing with the DB7 other than the V12 drivetrain.

shadytree

8,291 posts

219 months

Tuesday 25th January 2005
quotequote all
Twin Turbo said:
C'mon Shady.....you know you want too


Anyone got the telephone number please

jake m

2 posts

201 months

Friday 28th January 2005
quotequote all
Almost 100bhp makes no difference??? You can't tell me that most people wouldn't be happy to have that kind of boost in their car. Why would BBR bother if it doesn't make a big difference in performance. Either the person writing this article is too use to driving 500+bhp cars and feel that anything less is slow or he was using the wrong pedal.

J_S_G

6,177 posts

220 months

Monday 14th February 2005
quotequote all
Adrian472 said:
i have driven a modified 7 with a stroked Jag 4.0 too 4.3 and still supercharged was putting out around 480hp mark with a re mapped ecu and boost upgrades etc.

Adrian, got any further details on this? Costs/decent opinions on how the car performed before/after the work/someone to natter with about it/etc? Sounds like quite a decent proposition for sorting out a nice cheap 7...