The upcoming Bonhams Greenwich Auction, to be held live on June 5 in Greenwich, Conn., will features an assortment of interesting British classics. A star of that sale will be an Aston Martin DB6, a well-preserved “Sports Saloon” from the luxury marque’s early days, and whose predecessor had all the luck.
That previous model was the DB5, which saved the carmaker’s financial bacon when it co-starred in the 1964 James Bond thriller Goldfinger, cementing its place in cinematic history and bringing Aston Martin to the attention of would-be customers around the world. The DB5 continues to be a cult favorite—and an Aston Martin continuation-car moneymaker—as long as grown men fantasize about being secret agents. Meanwhile, the DB6 has gone on to play second fiddle, never mind that it is every bit as attractive as the Carrozziera Touring–designed DB5. Contemporary owners certainly found it so, including British celebrities like Prince Charles, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Peter Sellers and Twiggy.
Although its exquisite styling seems timeless today, the DB6 was regarded as somewhat archaic when it hit the stand at the 1965 Paris Motor Show, and the London Motor Show immediately thereafter. One has to remember that cars like the Maserati Ghibli, De Tomaso Mangusta and earth-shattering Lamborghini Miura were only a year away. But one does not acquire a DB6 for its cutting-edge shape. In fact, there are no edges at all, but rather, smooth flowing curves as seductive as those of any car from the early 1960s.
The styling for the DB6 was brought in house by Aston Martin, in part to address some aerodynamic shortfalls of coachbuilder Carrozziera Touring’s fastback DB4 and DB5. Instead, the DB6 featured an upturned Kamm tail that is the vehicle’s styling signature today. Its lengthened chassis allowed two small seats to be added in the rear, but required the roof height to be raised by two inches. Significantly, the Superleggera construction, licensed from Touring, was replaced with a conventional steel-body-on-platform method for its structural advantages.
The straight-six engine was a proven design by Aston Martin engineer Tadek Marek. Utilizing an alloy block and head, the mill had the same 4.0-liter displacement of the DB5. With 282 hp in standard tune, the 3,250-pound DB6 can hit 150 mph and achieve a respectable-if-not-scorching zero-to-60 mph time of about 8.4 seconds. This car’s optional Vantage tuning specification increases compression and boosts power to 325 hp. A ZF five-speed manual gearbox and Salisbury rear end complete the drivetrain. The DB6 Mark II, introduced in 1969, can be identified by slight flares on the wheel arches to accommodate half-inch wider wheels. Brave souls ordered the electronic fuel-injection option.
Inside, the DB6 had its traditional English charms, like a tidy dash sprawling with Smiths gauges, fat leather seats and a thin wooden steering wheel with three black spokes. Optional was a Borg Warner three-speed automatic transmission, power steering and air conditioning, offering creature comforts unknown to most of the DB6’s European sports-car competitors. Novel was the Armstrong coil-spring rear suspension, which allowed the driver to adjust the ride quality from inside the car.
A total of about 1,788 examples of the Mk I and Mk II were produced from 1965 to 1970, of which about 215 were Volante (convertible) models. Sporting types with a pheasant fetish commissioned a shooting brake (station wagon) configuration by Radford, providing plenty of space for hounds, shotguns and bagged game. Four were made oddly resplendent with the Kamm tail. Finished in the original color scheme of Silver Birch complemented by red Connolly hides, this desirable Vantage-spec DB6 Sports Saloon retains its matching-numbers drivetrain. Although being offered without reserve, it’s estimated to sell for as much as $400,000.