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Aston Martin DBS – Clive Sutton Market Report

Aston Martin DBS

Clive Sutton Market Price from £80,000 (2007 car, 19,000 miles)

Aston Martin DBS

What is it?

Aston Martin really exploited the James Bond links with the 2007 DBS. Unveiled at Pebble Beach in America, not only was the logo similar to the James Bond font, it even came in a special colour – dubbed ‘Casino Ice’. Linked, of course, to the Casino Royale flick of the year before. Neat, huh?

It wasn’t an all-new car. Rather, it’s a re-styled version of the DB9 Coupe with the visual tension ramped up, thanks to a muscular bodykit. And it’s spawned imitators – I know of companies who will graft on a bodykit to the DB9 to create a pretty convincing replica.

Those cars aren’t the real McCoy, though. The DBS is: it was the first Aston Martin to heavily use carbon fibre body panels, rather than the traditional hand-crafted aluminium. Inside, it was initially two seats only (a daft decision), while under the hood was a 510bhp version of the V12 6.0-litre from the DBR9 race car. It’s a serious machine, alright – it even marked the first application of carbon ceramic brakes for an Aston Martin.

Who buys it?

Aston aficionados who want to sit at the top of the Aston V12 tree (this side of a One-77) and like an edgier driving experience to the DB9 buy it. For some buyers, the Bond effect helps too – it buoyed the brutish old Vanquish for a while, but it’s largely worn off these days.

The market has long though the DBS was simply too expensive, and that Aston Martin missed a trick in pitching it so much higher than the DB9. Really, it should be seen as a great step up from a DB9 – but, at almost £60,000 more, it’s simply too much of a jump. It ought to be a £20,000-£25,000 ‘new’ difference; given that it is effectively a DB9 on steroids.

Personally, I’d like to have seen it be more of a DB9 ‘Speed’ – similar to the Bentley Speed variants. They generally cost around £10,000 more than the standard cars, and are rightly doing good business due to this sensible approach. The DBS is more of a visual step up, but almost £60,000 worth? I don’t think so.

Even so, the market has started to settle down in recent years. Aston’s ongoing development work, plus the disappearance of some silly deals on new cars, has seen a lot more sold to order and much less distress purchasing. As it’s become established in the used market, it is becoming acknowledged as a very desirable buy, leaving the DB9 looking very plan in comparison. As such, there is a lot of daylight between DB9 and DBS values.

What wouldn’t surprise me, going forward, would be for people to start buying early DB9s in need of new tyres and minor refurbishment. They can then buy those DBS-style bodykits, meaning that, for £50,000 plus a £15,000 kit, they can turn their DB9 into a ‘half price DBS’! I’ve already seen high-quality kits starting to appear.

As dealers, we prefer standard cars – but even so, if it’s a good enough job, and the price is right, such cars will always find a market.

What is the model range like?

The DBS is offered in both coupe and Volante convertible guise. Aston’s range-topping ‘mainstream’ GT car, it sits above the DBS and newer Volante as the pinnacle of its line-up.

But there is no denying this pinnacle is perhaps a bit too steep. The Touchtronic 2 automatic helped broaden its appeal, but even with the Volante and the optional useless rear seats you can quickly increase the new price to £190,000 I offer one simple comparison: the Ferrari California. That costs from under £145,000. Which will the market buy? The Aston is prettier but is simply at the wrong price point. There have been some spectacular discounts on physical cars.

What were the key developments in its lifetime?

September 2008 marked the first big change for the DBS. Aston at last introduced a 2+2 seating option, something it should have had from the very beginning. Likewise, it also offered the Touchtronic 2 automatic gearbox option, which has since taken the lion’s share of sales. A premium-line Bang & Olufsen stereo upped the appeal too.

In 2009, the DBS Volante open-top variant joined the range. Which, yes, was even more expensive. For this was not a cheap car to make. And Aston Martin pushed further into the stratosphere with the DBS Carbon Edition – it dripped with carbon fibre and quilted leather to keep the DBS on the supercar buyer’s radar.

Today, the regular DBS is no longer on sale, meaning it’s just the second-generation Carbon Edition, in coupe and Volante guise, that’s available to buyers. Starting price? Upwards of £186,000… at least you get an extra colour choice, orange, to add alongside the original black-only Carbon Edition.

What will it be replaced by?

Big news for summer 2012 is the first glimpse of the DBS’ successor, the AM310 Vanquish. Reviving the name of the original ‘new Aston’ turnaround car, this is a real eye-opener for me: it’s surprisingly ‘new’ and marks a significant step on for the brand. It looks incredible and the response from customers to it is very positive. There is a lot of interest in this car already, putting Aston Martin in a very position indeed.

It will cost from £190,000: the first cars on market will sell for well over £200,000, believe me. Demand for this striking new Aston Martin is going to be very high indeed – and, in my eyes, rightly so. I look forward to seeing it in the, well, carbon fibre, at the Paris Motor Show in September.

Which model do you recommend?

The DBS Volante is a riotous car which provides an even more concentrated Aston hit than the DBS Coupe. It hasn’t been around for quite as long though, so a Coupe which is further down the depreciation curve is where the smart money goes.

The Carbon Edition extras don’t sound all that minor on paper, but I feel they’re well worth it as they give this car the bespoke appeal its price tag suggests.

What colours and trims do you recommend?

Like its less extreme stablemate, the DB9, caution is advisable when choosing colours. The same rules apply here – silver, grey or black are safe choices which the trade won’t punish.

Aston’s personalization programme means there’s an array of custom colours out there – the most lurid of which will have limited market appeal. There’s also plenty of cars painted in the Bond-themed hues Quantum Silver and Casino Ice, both of which suit the car’s aggressive lines. Carbon Edition models limit the colours on offer: the first version only came in black, with the latest versions adding orange to the palette. Both work really well with the DBS.

The fact Aston finished the press DBS Carbon Edition in orange has helped that hue become much more acceptable.

What options do I need?

The Bang & Olufsen Beosound hi-fi is an excellent upgrade and popular with buyers, as is the Touchtronic six-speed Auto, which suits city-bound cars well.

What should I avoid?

Watch out for tarted-up DB9s masquerading as a DBS. They might look convincing, but they don’t pack the 510bhp firepower of the genuine article.

Summer 2012 Market Report value update

I’ve long considered the DBS to be very expensive: it is basically a DBS with a glitzy bodykit, rather than an all-new car, and Aston certainly charges royally for the privilege of owning one. Impressively though, the hefty premium over the DB9 when new is holding up on the used market, with even early 2007 cars commanding a CS Market Price of £80,000 – that’s £25,000 more than a comparable DB9.

The CS Market Price puts a 2008 car at £100,000, and I reckon 2009 cars should sell for a similar amount – used vendors are asking some very silly prices for four-year old cars at the moment, and it’s important buyers don’t get sucked in by this. Add on £10,000 for each year younger the car is: £120,000 for a year-old DBS coupe – or £130,000 for a convertible (launched in 2009 and starting from £105,000) – makes it the most expensive Aston Martin on the market, but buyers seem willing to pay it…

Things to look out for

  • Fake DBS models – DB9s with aftermarket bodykits, that is
  • Optimistically priced models
  • Missing keys. The glass key is nearly £1,000 to replace!
  • Worn clutches at low mileages
  • Tyre condition. They don’t last



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