'More and more cars today reach the magical ton but those which can do it with the same ease and rapidity of the Aston can be counted on the fingers of one hand. High-speed stability and safety is not cheap to engineer, and with few people to pay the price, production costs are never reduced by the quantity of the work. The DB5 therefore fills a unique corner of the market, a corner at the top end both in the way it performs and the price one pays for the privilege.' – Autocar, 18th September 1964.
Introduced in 1963, the DB5 was a development of the preceding DB4 that had represented such a giant step forward in Aston Martin's post-war evolution on its arrival in 1958. Classically proportioned, the Touring-designed body established an instantly recognisable look that would stand the marque in good stead until 1970. The DB4's engine was still an all-alloy twin-overhead-camshaft 'six' but the old W O Bentley-designed 3.0-litre unit had been superseded by a new design by Tadek Marek. Proven in racing before it entered production in the DB4, the new 3,670cc engine featured 'square' bore and stroke dimensions of 92x92mm and developed its maximum power of 240bhp at 5,500rpm. The David Brown gearbox was a new four-speed all-synchromesh unit.
Touring's Superleggera body construction, which employed a lightweight tubular structure to support the aluminium-alloy body panels, was deemed incompatible with the DB2/4-type multi-tubular spaceframe, so engineer Harold Beach drew up an immensely-strong platform-type chassis. Independent front suspension was retained, the DB2/4's trailing links giving way to unequal-length wishbones, while at the rear the DB4 sported a live axle located by a Watts linkage instead of its predecessor's Panhard rod. Five series were built as the model gradually metamorphosed into the DB5. The latter's distinctive cowled headlamps had first appeared on the DB4GT and the newcomer was the same size as the lengthened Series V DB4. The DB5's 3,995cc engine, first seen in the Lagonda Rapide, produced 282bhp and was mated to a four-speed, overdrive-equipped gearbox, a 'proper' ZF five-speed unit being standardised later. Other improvements included alternator electrics, Girling disc brakes instead of Dunlops, Sundym glass, electric windows, and an oil pressure gauge as standard equipment. The DB5 was also offered in convertible form (the 'Volante' name would not be applied to the soft-top Aston until the DB6's arrival) while independent coachbuilder Harold Radford offered a shooting brake conversion. 1,021 DB5s were manufactured between July 1963 and September 1965, a total that included a mere 123 convertibles and 12 shooting brakes.
This rare DB5 convertible was sold new via H R Owen's Sloane Street dealership in South West London to Mr Frederick Weldon of Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, and was first registered as 'KLE 471D' in London. The accompanying copy guarantee form lists the original colour scheme as Goodwood Green with red Connolly leather trim and matching Everflex convertible hood. However, H R Owen's sales invoice states that the DB5 was delivered finished in Platinum (white). Items of non-standard equipment listed include 3.54:1 axle ratio, chrome wheels, Motorola radio, Marchal fog lamps, a lowered driver's seat pan, and the Borg Warner gearbox that was converted by the Factory prior to its initial delivery. Factory service work listed includes this conversion to ZF five-speed manual transmission in March 1966.
The current vendor bought the DB5 from its first owner, Frederick Weldon, in 1983. In 1984, he sold the car to Mr Serge Chabbey of Zürich, Switzerland, by which time it had covered only some 38,000 miles, and in 1995 bought it back. In the intervening period, the speedometer had been changed to a km/h unit and the odometer adjusted to reflect the actual distance travelled from new, which by 1995 was circa 70,000 kilometres (approximately 43,500 miles).
The current long-term owner always wanted to preserve the Aston but ended up restoring almost everything over the years (body, paint, engine, gearbox, etc) while retaining the original red leather interior. Works carried out included rebuilding the engine to 4.2 litres capacity using a replacement block (the original was badly corroded) and fitting hardened valve seats to permit the use of unleaded petrol. The engine rebuild was completed around 10 years ago, since when only some 8,000 kilometres have been covered, while the transmission was overhauled recently. The only notified deviations from factory specification are 16 wheels and a Harvey Bailey handling kit. Correspondence with Aston Martin Tickford in 1983 reveals that '2122/R' seems to be the second last DB5 Convertible built.
'2122/R' is exceptionally well documented and comes with a massive file (inspection recommended) containing numerous invoices - many dating back to Mr Weldon's ownership – showing that its owners have pursued a no-expense-spared approach to the car's care and maintenance. The file also contains the original warranty document, order form, invoice, and UK logbook, together with correspondence from Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd and H R Owen.