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The Story Behind The DB Moniker
The Story Behind The DB Moniker
Posted: October 3rd 2018
By: Lisa Harper

Many of Aston Martin’s most desirable and beautiful models bear the DB name. As such, many people hail DB models as the epitome of Aston Martin engineering. This reputation is built on solid foundations, as during their seventy-year history they have enjoyed numerous successes on the racetrack. DB models have also gained mass appeal thanks to their success in films, most notably the James Bond franchise.

By continually pushing the boundaries of automotive performance and design, Aston Martin DB models are still as covetable today as they were back in 1948. So what exactly does DB stand for?

The DB moniker used on multiple Aston Martin models actually stands for David Brown, who purchased Aston Martin in 1947. David Brown was a successful engineer and industrialist, who by 1946 was already a director at his family’s successful transmission business, had developed his own tractors and had set up the ‘David Brown Tractor’ company. Alongside this, he had been working on building his own car as he was a keen racing enthusiast.

In 1946 he saw a newspaper advertisement for a prestigious car company and it was all the nudge he needed to pursue his love of cars by purchasing the company; reportedly paying £20,500 in 1947. Following the purchase of Aston Martin Brown went on to purchase Lagonda, another prestigious motor company; having seen potential in its twin-cam light alloy head six-cylinder 2.5-litre engine.

David Brown is frequently hailed as the saviour of Aston Martin. Under his guidance, the small failing company turned into a brand that quickly became ingrained in British culture. His period of Aston Martin ownership is hailed as the ‘DB’ era. The early DB series cars enjoyed multiple successes on the racing circuit which helped them to earn a reputation for legitimate sporting credentials.

The first car of the David Brown era was actually only retrospectively named the DB1. At the time of its launch in 1948, it was known as Two Litre Sports to denote the powerful 2.0-litre engine powering the nimble little sports car. Production of this model finished in 1950.

It was the DB2 model on which the DB badge was first officially seen. The DB2 built upon the success of the DB1 and under the watchful eye of W.O Bentley from Lagonda, the pushrods were increased from four to six. The result was it became one of a few British cars available at the time to reach 100mph. The DB2 was produced from 1950 until 1953.

Up next was DB Mk3 (which let’s face it should have just been called DB3) which was an upgraded version of the DB2. The grille was updated to increase airflow and this has since become an iconic feature of all DB models.

Although work began on a DB4 in 1956, it wasn’t until 1958 that it was debuted at the London Motor Show. The 3.7-litre straight-six engine delivered 240bhp, 240lb ft of torque, a 0-60mph time of 9.0 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. The DB4 enjoyed a five year production period before making way for the DB5.

Arguably one of the most iconic DB models of all time the glamour evoked by the DB5 made it the perfect choice for James Bond. Skilfully driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger its success was secured when the film hit the big screen. The DB5 quickly became the car that everyone wanted to own. It has since featured in numerous other Bond films cementing a psyche into the British culture that still remains strong today.

The DB6 was a refreshed version of the DB5. It featured a longer wheelbase and taller roof height to offer more space. The DB6 became popular amongst celebrities in the sixties with Prince Charles, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Twiggy and Peter Sellers all owning one. Prince Charles is still a proud owner of a DB6. He converted it to run on wine in to make it more environmentally friendly.

After the DB6 came the DBS. It strayed from the design of previous DB models and is famed for appearing in both The Persuaders and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The DBS was the last model to be produced directly under the leadership of David Brown, and when he sold the company in 1972 production of the DBS ceased.

The DB prefix was then dropped for twenty-two years, until being reinstated in the nineties. Just before David Brown’s death in 1994 he granted Aston Martin the right to use his initials on future models, so the DB name lives on.

By 1994 Aston Martin was fully under Ford’s ownership but was struggling financially. Ford decided they needed a car that could be produced on a greater scale and as a more accessible premium vehicle. Despite cost-cutting measures and an abundance of recycled Jaguar parts, the DB7 looked incredible, thanks largely to the stunning design from Ian Callum. The DB7 reignited the nation's desire for Aston Martin and undoubtedly helped the company survive into the twenty-first century. After the DB7’s success, a DB7 Vantage was launched with a 6.0-litre V12 engine in 1999.

The DB9 was launched towards the end of Ford’s ownership of Aston Martin and marked a return to the exceptional class and desirability Aston Martin enjoyed during David Brown’s ownership. However, due to the change in ownership future development of other models was difficult. Therefore for a period, several variations of the DB9 were churned out instead of a new model.

By 2007 the future of Aston Martin had once again been secured by a consortium of businessmen under the leadership of avid Aston Martin and race car fan, David Richards. David Richards leadership saw the return of a familiar name the DBS, however, the new model featured more aggressive styling and a 510-bhp version of the V12 engine. It also appeared in Daniel Craig’s first Bond film Casino Royale.

Essentially a redesigned V8 Vantage the DB10 was designed especially for the Bond film Spectre. The DB10 never officially went on sale to the general public and only one model has ever been sold to a member of the public.

Which brings us to the true successor of the DB9 the DB11. Released in 2016, it became the first Aston Martin to be equipped with turbochargers. Still on sale today, it is instantly recognisable as an Aston Martin while still delivering customers state-of-the-art design. An AMR version of the DB11 has since been released and offers more power and better performance.

Finally, the most recent DB to date is the strikingly beautiful and powerful DBS Superleggera. A feat of automotive engineering the DBS Superleggera is flying the flag for this quintessential British racing car producer. We’re sure the man that made the DBs legendary would be pleased to see his name live on in such a worthy model.

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