The Aston Martin DB7 dates back largely to when Ford bought the ailing company in 1988, where with resources gathered from Ford’s other new British subsidy Jaguar, the company set out to replace the seemingly ancient Aston Martin V8 design that dated back to 1969. Although the Virage of 1989 was a modern day retelling of the V8 design (by making the whole thing a touch more bulbous and cramming more energy under the hood than Drax Power Station), the company hadn’t launched a new model since 1974’s Aston Martin Lagonda, which was built to be hopeless. So, with the help of designers from both Jaguar and Aston, and headed by renowned car stylish Ian Callum, the DB7 was in fact built on a collection of all kinds of things merged together. The original styling was in fact meant to be placed onto the failed Jaguar F-Type project, which was shelved for another 20 years before being launched in 2013, with its styling being based spiritually on the DB7 (what a production loophole blackhole!). Placed onto the platform of a Jaguar XJS, Ian Callum gave the car some final alterations to the design to make the original F-Type design look more like an Aston Martin, specifically the radiator grille, styled to look like the famous grille of the mighty DB5.
Eventually the car was launched in 1993 at the Geneva Motor Show to a whirlwind of critical acclaim. The smooth styling was a breath of fresh air for both the company and the British Motor Industry’s long reputation of angular and rather dull machines that were merely based on cars that were somewhat endearing in the 1960’s. The car was also powered by a smooth 3.2L V6, not a particularly powerful engine, but Aston Martin didn’t realise they were sitting on an absolute gold mine of a car. The company even went so far as to not make it the flagship motor, placing it as an entry-level car under the Virage. Eventually in 1996, the Aston Martin DB7 Volante convertible was launched, with both cars going for the princely sum of $140,000 for the standard coupé, and $150,000 for the Volante.
In 1999 the car was given a facelift and replaced with the V12 Vantage, giving the car the grunt and grind of a powerful Aston Martin 5.9L engine, with a top speed of 165mph! Although this was sold alongside the original V6 model, it quickly became apparent that the idea of having a raunchy V12 under the hood was much more satisfying, so they axed it the same year. In 2002, the limited edition GT and GTA models were launched, improving the V12 engine but with little to no styling changes. This new engine was indeed formidable, with Jeremy Clarkson once demonstrating on Top Gear how he could pull away in 4th Gear and eventually get the car to 135mph before hitting the Rev-Counter. Today these are amongst the rarest of cars with only 190 GT’s and 112 GTA’s built. Another rare variant was the Zagato, launched in 2002, which featured more rounded styling and made it look something like a 2000 Ford Thunderbird. Only 100 of these cars were built, with 99 being sold out immediately upon launch, with one being donated to the Aston Martin Museum. The final variant of the DB7 was the DB AR1, which once again featured different body styling and was fitted with a 6.0L V12 from the Vanquish, giving it a top speed of 186mph. Again, only 99 of these cars were ever built and sold.
Eventually the end came for the DB7 in 2004 with only 7,000 examples built. Since then the car has slipped into something of obscurity, even though its descendants, the Aston Martin DB9, the Vanquish, the Rapide and the new Vantage, owe their designs to that original failed F-Type design back in the late 1980’s, which spawned a car that has since defined a generation of motoring.