DB7 Vantage Coupe Description
In production: March 1999 - November 2003
Chassis numbers: 300001 - 304458 sequence shared with the Volante
The Works Service 385bhp version of the 3.2 litre supercharged six cylinder reached the limit of its development, producing in excess of 100bhp per litre. The Tadek Marek designed Newport Pagnell built V8 had been made to fit into the DB7. It was also powerful and reliable but very expensive to build by hand and, perhaps more important, as with the supercharged straight 6, would struggle with ever tightening emission regulations. Any development of the car to ‘Vantage’ spec would need another power unit.
TWR, which developed the DB7 initially, had begun work on a V12 powered DB7 in order to improve the car and it used a former engineering vehicle, L5 AML. Fitted under the bonnet was a modified Jaguar engine, bored out to 6.4 litres and producing 475bhp @ 6000rpm. It was a brave and worthwhile attempt by TWR to continue to protect its engine supply contract with AML for future models. Despite the potential cost saving of this off the shelf package, AML went with an ambitious alternative from within the Ford Empire.
In 1993, the DB7 was not the only AML product unveiled at the Geneva show. The Lagonda Vignale, designed by Moray Callum, (Ian’s brother), based on the Lincoln Town Car had a Ford V8 under the bonnet; but the plan was to fit a 5.9 litre V12 into any possible production car. The Vignale did not reach production, but the idea of a 48 valve, all-alloy V12 lived on with an ‘Aston Martin Lagonda’ badged mock up shown at the Turin Motor Show in April 1994. After appearances in the Ford FT90 concept (Detroit, 1995) and Ford Indigo show car (Detroit 1996), the almost finished and working 5.9 litre V12 made its formal premiere in the Project Vantage, precursor to the Vanquish, at Detroit in 1998.
The starting point for the design of the V12 was a pair of 3.0 litre Duratec V6 units. Extensive development by Aston Martin, Jim Clarke and his team at Ford Research and Vehicle Technology Group and Cosworth Engineering resulted in an engine unique to the marque. It is believed that initially the DB7 wasn’t intended to get the V12 but to offer improved performance and pass ever stricter emissions regulations it became the best option to gain additional life and sales from the DB7.
The DB7 Vantage endured a 24 month design and development programme and involved more than a half a million test miles. The programme included temperatures ranging from -30°C to +45°C in Europe and North America and an intensive high speed durability test of 48 hours continuous running at 165 mph in Southern Europe in mid-summer temperatures.
In Britain, a series of pre-production models were subjected to continuous 30 day durability tests at the Motor Industry Research Association’s Proving Ground - each equivalent to 100,000 miles of regular driving, halting only for refuelling and routine analysis. The V12 coupes and Volantes were driven day and night at speeds that ranged from one to 140mph. The test cycles included regular assaults on the cars by mud and salt baths, driving deliberately into traffic island kerbstones at 50mph and a series of fierce stop-start acceleration and brake tests.
The Vantage version of the DB7 was announced at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. Restyled by the original designer, Ian Callum, and signed off before the Project Vantage was finished, the exquisite poise of the DB7 was transformed with revised flanks, new sills, larger nose air intake with modified grille and lamps plus a new rear bumper. Under the surface, the chassis followed the same basic layout as before but was strengthened with springs 15-20% stiffer than before, new front wishbones and uprights and reduced steering offset to make space for bigger brakes. At the rear, a cruciform brace was added below the final drive unit to reduce axle tramp under hard acceleration. Since the V12 engine needed more cooling air than the 6 cylinder, the trademark Aston grille was enlarged. This has meant the creation of new indicators and driving lamps moved to a new position on the apron. These units are reminiscent of those on both the Project cars (DP212, 214, 215) and the DBR1 race car.
The engine was the first of a totally new generation that has thus far powered Aston Martins for more than 11 years including success in endurance racing and the One-77 hypercar. The first version of the 5.9 litre, 48 valve, all-alloy, 60º V12 engine (Aston Martin marketing prefers to call it 6.0 litre) delivered 420bhp and 400lb/ft of torque. The V12 was designed to operate at a maximum speed of 7000rpm and had four valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts for each bank of cylinders and a sophisticated Visteon electronic management system. The engines were made by Cosworth Technology in Wellingborough, near Northampton. The cylinder heads and cylinder block castings were supplied by Cosworth’s casting company, Coscast in Worcester, before being machined and assembled at Wellingborough.
To cope with the massive increase in power, much of the chassis and suspension has been extensively modified. Much larger Brembo brakes than on the i6 are fitted. Joining a newly designed vertical link at the front were new upper and lower wishbones, while there was an additional transverse link incorporated into the independent rear suspension giving it a double 'wishbone' system. Bilstein shock absorbers to a new design in conjunction with higher rate springs were included in both the front and rear suspension systems. In order to accept the V12, the front end structure of the car was redesigned together with an enlarged transmission tunnel which gave increased strength and 5% better torsional rigidity for the whole bodyshell.
Initially the car was available with either a six speed close ratio manual transmission (184 mph top speed, 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds) or a five speed automatic (limited to 165 mph top speed, 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds). From 2000 a highly acclaimed 'Touchtronic' system, developed in conjunction with ZF, became available. The system had three transmission modes for the Vantage driver. There was a standard 'automatic' mode, a 'sports' mode where up changes were made at higher engine speeds, and 'Touchtronic' which was a sequential manual mode. In ‘Touchtronic’ the gears could be changed either by moving the lever back and forth or by using '+' and '-' buttons on the steering wheel.
Instead of starting the DB7 on the ignition key, it was accomplished by the use of a large red starter button which was mounted prominently in the centre console close to the analogue clock which replaced the digital clock of the i6. The starter button as first seen on the DB7 Vantage has subsequently been developed over time, through a ‘crystal’ phase into the ECU as seen on all 2011 Aston Martins.
The distinctive new multi-spoke 15ins diameter aluminium alloy road wheels were developed especially for the DB7 Vantage. These wheels had 9 inch rims at the rear and 8 inch rims at the front, and were equipped with ZR rated 265/35 Bridgestone SO2 tyres for the rear wheels and 245/40 SO2 tyres for the front.
The Citroen CX door mirrors used on the i6 were discarded in favour of a design from Jaguar. In the interior, the switch gear for heated seats, fog lamps and heated screen were changed to a squarer type and the finish of the wood trim at the instrument binnacle was better resolved. New, more comfortable, sports seats were introduced which also allowed far better rearward vision. The rear Aston Martin wings badge on the boot lid was relocated to cover the key hole, hinged from the top and retained by a magnet.
There was only one significant update to the Vantage and that occurred with the introduction of the 2002MY first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show, autumn 2001.
DB7 Vantage Coupe Variants
DB7 Vantage Dunhill
So far as we can tell, there was never a Dunhill Vantage produced. Whilst it is true that there are a small number of Vantages in Dunhill Silver with charcoal piped silver grey, brushed aluminium facia and white instruments just like an i6 Dunhill, they were not a specific limited edition, just made that way at the owner’s request.
DB7 Vantage GTS / GTS II
As well as the DB7 i6 a small number of DB7 Vantages have also been modified by Car Care Works (Chiltern Aston). The dozen cars are made up of 8 coupes (3 GTS, 5 GTS II) and 4 Volantes (3 GTS, 1 GTS II).
DB7 Vantage Stratstone GTS
Following the succesful i6 GTS and i6 Stratstone, the Pendragon dealer group made plans in 2001 to produce a follow up model, a V12 Stratstone GTS. The first example, a Bowland Black Volante was made and converted to GTS spec by Car Care Works (Chiltern Aston). But for some reason, the final specification was not agreed and marketing the car never happened; the project was abandoned and Stratstone moved onto the Jubilee. In total, two Volantes and three coupes were built, all Bowland Black with full charcoal interior; one of the coupes was modified to GTS II specification with the round rear lamps. Some of the cars may have received the specially made sill plaques but at this time it is unknown.
DB7 Vantage Coupe Derivatives
DB7 Vantage Jubilee
2002MY for Europe. Chassis numbers: Coupe 302950 and then 303080 to 303098, Volante 402951 and then 403079 to 403099
To celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, Stratstone Aston Martin Sales of Mayfair commissioned AML to produce a Jubilee Limited Edition of the DB7 Vantage. The car was launched in June 2002 and was limited to just 24 examples, 19 in right hand drive for the UK (9 coupes, 10 Volantes) and a further 5 left hand drive examples for continental Europe. They were priced at £120,950.
DB7 Vantage Jubilee Distinguishing Features
- Coachwork finished in special order Jubilee Blue (also sometimes described as Ferrari Tour de France Blue)
- Magnolia Hide Interior with perforated seat centres and ‘Jubilee’ embossed head restraints
- Contrasting Navy Blue dash top roll, door tops rear quarter panels and seat piping
- Blue hood cover on Volante piped in Magnolia, hood in blue
- Dark blue Wilton carpets edged with Magnolia hide
- Blue over-carpets edged in Magnolia with 'Jubilee' embroidered logo in silver
- Parchment Alcantara headlining
- Special order dark Italian Walnut
- White dials with silver ‘Jubilee’ graphics
- Special order 19 inch wheels, Silver brake calipers with blue ‘Aston Martin’ lettering
- Touchtronic Transmission
- Premium audio plus satellite navigation and Tracker 24 hour
- Heated front screen
- Fitted umbrella (black/silver Handle)
- Large bore Tail Pipes
- Satin pedals
- Unique wide mesh chrome grille with 'Jubilee' badge and chrome door mirrors
- Clear side repeater lenses
- Numbered ‘Jubilee’ sill plaques
- Handbook bound in Navy Blue hide and silver embossed plus a numbered, limited edition, gentleman’s chronograph watch
DB7 Vantage Jubilee
2003MY for North America. Chassis numbers: Coupe 303679 to 303699, Volante 403677 to 403703
The Jubilee was also made available in the USA as well as in Europe. Built to exactly the same colour and trim specification, the North American Jubilee was based on the 2003MY Vantage. All were LHD; 9 coupes and 10 Volantes are known to the Registrar although there may be 26 in total, the edition numbers started again at 1.
DB7 Vantage Keswick
October 2002. Chassis numbers Coupe 303380 to 303388, Volante 403381 to 403389
Another limited edition V12 DB7 based on the RHD 2002MY coupe and Volante was the Keswick, produced for the Lancaster group who have AML dealerships in Reading and Cambridge.
DB7 Vantage Keswick Distinguishing Features
- Ferrari Nero Daytona Black coachwork
- Black mohair hood on the Volante
- Upper and lower interior in charcoal hide
- Smoke headlining
- DB7 logo embossed on the seats
- Charcoal carpets, ‘DB7’ logo stitched into the carpets
- Upper and lower mesh grilles
- Metallic finished veneers to replace wood veneers
- Touchtronic transmission
- White faced instruments
- 19 inch wheels, black brake calipers
- Numbered IWC wrist watch.
There were 10 cars in total, 5 of each body style
DB7 Vantage Anniversary
September 2003. Chassis numbers: Coupe 304364 to 304432, Volante chassis 404365 to 404431
To mark both the 10th anniversary of the DB7 and the ending of production of what was then the most successful Aston Martin, the company announced a limited run of just 100 special cars to commemorate the event.
The DB7 Anniversary Edition was available as either coupe or Volante.
DB7 Vantage Anniversary Distinguishing Features
- Coachwork in special shade of Slate Blue
- Upper colour of Caspian Blue leather and lower Arctic Blue leather
- The lighter Arctic Blue is used on the pleated centre seat panels - the seats are unique to this model
- Parchment instrument dials
- Optional extras fitted as standard: Touchtronic transmission, graphite grey brake calipers, premium stereo system, satellite-navigation, colour keyed steering wheel, powerfold mirrors
Only 52 were eventually built split between 27 coupes (13 RHD 14 LHD) and 25 Volantes (11 RHD, 14 LHD. Of all these cars only 6 went were sold in the USA.