'I have driven most of the Aston Martin models that have been produced, from the racing twin-cam 1½-litre of the 1920s onwards. For years my favourite has been the DB3S sports-racer, but now my allegiance is wavering. There can be little doubt that the DB6 is the best Aston yet and it is a credit to British engineering.' - John Bolster, Autosport, 21st October 1966.
Considered by many to be the last 'real' Aston Martin, the DB6 was launched in 1965 at the Paris and London Motor Shows, updating the DB5. Although Royal patronage of the marque undoubtedly helped DB6 sales, as did its DB5 predecessor's appearance in the James Bond movies 'Goldfinger' and 'Thunderball', the car arrived at a difficult time for Aston Martin, with the home economy in a parlous state and the US market subject to ever-more restrictive legislation.
Though recognisably related to its Touring-styled DB4 ancestor, the DB6 abandoned the underlying Superleggera body structure of its predecessors in favour of a conventional steel fabrication while retaining the aluminium outer panels. Somewhat confusingly, 'Superleggera' badges continued to be applied for a time, presumably until stocks ran out.
Increased rear-seat space had been the prime DB6 objective, so the wheelbase was now 4" longer than before, resulting in an extensive re-style with more-raked windscreen, raised roofline and reshaped rear quarter windows. The result was significantly greater roominess, making the DB6 a genuine four-seater. Opening front quarter lights made a reappearance but the major change was at the rear where a Kamm-style tail with spoiler improved the aerodynamics, greatly enhancing stability at high speeds. This device had first been tried on the DP214 and DP215 DB4GT-based Le Mans prototypes; yet another example of racing improving the breed. These many dimensional changes were integrated most successfully, the DB6's overall length increasing by only 2". Indeed, but for the distinctive Kamm tail one might easily mistake it for a DB5.
'The tail lip halves the aerodynamic lift around maximum speed and brings in its train greater headroom and more luggage space,' declared Motor magazine, concluding that the DB6 was one of the finest sports cars it had ever tested: 'The DB6 with its longer wheelbase and better headroom makes an Aston Martin available to the far wider four-seater market, and the design is in every way superior to the previous model. A purist might have thought that the longer wheelbase would affect the near-perfect balance of the DB5, but if anything the DB6 is better.'
The Tadek Marek-designed six-cylinder engine had been enlarged to 3,995cc for the preceding DB5 and remained unchanged. Power output on triple SU carburettors was 282bhp, rising to 325bhp in Vantage specification. Borg-Warner automatic transmission was offered alongside the standard ZF five-speed gearbox, and for the first time air conditioning and power-assisted steering were available as options.
Premiered at the 1965 London Motor Show, the convertible DB6 marked the first occasion the evocative 'Volante' name had been applied to a soft-top Aston Martin. After 37 Volante convertibles had been completed on the DB5 short-wheelbase chassis, the model adopted the longer DB6 chassis in October 1966, first appearing in its definitive form at the London Motor Show. The stylish Volante offered four-seat accommodation and was generously appointed with leather upholstery, deep-pile carpets, an aircraft-style instrument cluster and an electrically operated hood.