The DB5 Is Back, And It Isn’t an Aston Martin
The Aston Martin DB5 is one of the most recognizable cars ever built. Even people who couldn’t care less about cars would know it when they see it. It’s James Bond’s car, a rolling embodiment of elegance, taste, and timeless cool that has been lusted after for half a century. As a result, there just aren’t enough examples of Aston’s most famous car to go around. Building just over 1,000 cars between 1963-1965, the DB5 is one of the most valuable collector cars in the world. Last year, a DB5 convertible sold for $2.3 million, making it the most expensive production Aston ever sold.
So chances are you won’t be taking that vintage DB5 home anytime soon. But there’s a new car from a small British company that’s bringing back the timeless looks of the vintage Aston set to arrive in the U.S. this summer – and it will only set you back a cool $795,000. The car isn’t built by Aston Martin, but its name may sound familiar to the company’s fans. It’s called the Speedback GT, and it’s built by a company called David Brown Automotive.
Between 1950 and 1972, the name David Brown was on every Aston Martin badge, getting top billing over the company name. Brown was an industrialist who saw a classified ad for a “high class motoring business,” and purchased the struggling company for £20,500. Never afraid of a little personal attention, Brown lent his initials to a string of classic grand tourers, starting with the DB1 in 1948, and carrying on today with the one-off DB10 created for the James Bond film Spectre.
Surprisingly, that’s not who the Speedback GT is named after. It’s named after another David Brown, one who also happens to be a British industrialist, and has a knack for building quintessentially British grand tourers. And unlike the DB-cars, the Speedback GT has nothing to do with Aston Martin. Instead, underneath its hand-crafted body, the Speedback GT is a Jaguar XKR.
The Speedback GT is so similar to the XKR mechanically, that David Brown Automotive doesn’t bill itself as an automaker, but as a company that is “defining coachbuilding for the 21st century,” and carrying on the legacy of design houses like Peninfarina, Bertone, and Zagato. That doesn’t mean that this is some kind of high-end kit car, the GT is assembled with an old-school attention to detail that’s become a rarity for even the most specialized automakers.
While most companies have moved much of the design process to computers, the GT was hand-sculpted out of clay before starting the CAD process. The body’s hand-formed aluminum panels are assembled around a high-strength monocoque chassis. The 5.0 liter Jaguar V8 produces 510 horsepower, and helps the car from zero-to-60 in a quick 4.9 seconds. Inside, elements of the Jag’s DNA are visible, but a bespoke interior, a wood-rimmed steering wheel, and a dollop of old-school wood and chrome let the driver know that this isn’t just some XKR with an expensive body kit.
While the Speedback’s looks are unmistakably Aston, its long wheelbase, slight Kamm-tail, and stretched proportions makes it look a bit more like the slightly bigger DB6 than the Bond-favored DB5, and its raked headlights are reminiscent of the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. The front end seems to be begging for the classic hexagonal Aston Martin grille treatment, but with the company’s recent lawsuits protecting its design language, the more simplified shape was probably the best choice.
Just the fact that the Speedback GT exists is proof of the unmistakable pull of the Aston Martin DB5. As those 1960s cars have become too valuable to drive with any regularity, the Speedback GT offers the next best thing along with modern-day performance and safety. But there are some drawbacks – namely, its price.
For the $795,000 for a Speedback GT, you could buy seven new Aston Martin V8 Vantages, and still have enough change leftover to buy a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. And it isn’t like anyone is complaining about Aston’s current lineup. The company’s styling has evolved so gracefully since the 1960s that not even James Bond minds driving a new one too much. Still, in terms of coachbuilding, exclusivity, and attention to detail, David Brown Auto’s Speedback GT is one of the most interesting new cars in the world.