Courtesy of Bonhams
The culmination of Aston Martin’s long-running line of DB 6-cylinder sports saloons and thus considered by many to be the last real Aston, the DB6 had been introduced in 1965, updating the DB5. Although recognizably related to the Touring-styled DB4 of 1958, the DB6 abandoned the Carrozzeria Touring-developed Superleggera body structure of its predecessors in favour of a conventional steel fabrication while retaining the aluminum outer panels. Increased rear-seat space was the prime DB6 objective, so the wheelbase was now four inches longer than before, resulting in an extensive restyle with a more-raked windscreen, raised roofline and reshaped rear quarter windows. 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. These many-dimensional changes were integrated most successfully, the DB6’s overall length increasing by only two inches. Indeed, but for the distinctive Kamm tail, one might easily mistake it for a DB5. The Tadek Marek-designed 6-cylinder engine had been enlarged to 3,995 cc for the preceding DB5 and remained unchanged. Power output on triple SU carburetors was 282 bhp, rising to 325 bhp in Vantage specification, complete with triple Webers. A Borg-Warner automatic transmission was offered alongside the standard ZF five-speed gearbox, and for the first time, there was optional power-assisted steering. A home-market model manufactured to Vantage specification, complete with the 5-speed manual gearbox, DB64012R was ordered with a Waso steering lock, front seat belts, fog lamps, chrome road wheels, heated rear window, three-ear spinners, a 3.73:1 limited-slip differential, power aerial and Avon tires. Manufactured in April 1969, the car was delivered to Wilmslow Garages Limited of Wilmslow, Cheshire, and registered shortly thereafter to its first owner, Mr. John Henry Parry. In 1983, Mr. Parry reluctantly decided to sell, and an advertisement was placed in the Sunday Times. The low mileage noted and registration number listed in the advertisement caught the attention of the current owner’s father, and a deal was done subject to inspection by the factory. Approximately 20 years ago, the car’s purchaser passed it to his son, who offers it today with a full file including registration documents going back to, and including, Mr. Parry’s original green logbook; the owner’s manual, service book and warranty card supplied with the car when new; correspondence with Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. and various independent marque specialists; a substantial quantity of expired MoT certificates and tax discs; and all invoices for works carried out while in the current family ownership. Throughout its time with the current owner’s family, the DB6 has been stored in a climate-controlled garage beneath a fitted cover, and is presented today in essentially the same condition as when purchased.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk I Vantage Sports Saloon
Years Produced:1966–71
Number Produced:1,728 Mk Is, 239 Mk IIs
Original List Price:$16,000
SCM Valuation:$340,000–$475,000
Tune Up Cost:$1,000
Distributor Caps:$114 (from Aston Workshop Parts). Genuine NOS £150 ($230)
Chassis Number Location:Engine compartment on right side
Engine Number Location:Stamped on right side of block
Club Info:Aston Martin Owners’ Club, PO Box 400 Drayton St. Leonard, Oxfordshire OX10 7BG tel: 01865 400400
Alternatives:1963–65 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage, 1966–68 Ferrari 330 GTC, 1966–67 Jaguar E-type 2 2 coupe

This car, Lot 217, sold for $757,446, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ annual sale of Aston Martins at Aston Martin Works, Newport Pagnell, U.K., on May 9, 2015.

The DB6 has finally caught up to where DB5s were five years ago — probably pulled up by the older car taking another huge leap in the past 12 months to settle in the £650k–£750k ($1m–$1.15m) range.

Coincidentally, both Bonhams and H&H sold Mk II automatics less than $3,000 apart at sales separated by only three weeks. There were roughly twice as many DB6s built as DB5s, which will always suppress prices, but the market likes Mk IIs for their power steering. The choice of transmission doesn’t appear to affect the value much, although when push comes to shove, the 5-speed manual will always just shade it.

However, our subject car raised almost $160k more than either of the cars above. What’s going on here? What made this Mk I worth so much?

Low mileage, great history and a splendid interior, basically.

While both of the Mk IIs were well kept and well presented, this 15,000-miler was notably fresher, its completely original leather glowing with a vitality that re-trims just can’t replicate — however hard they try to emulate that original Aston Martin feel. An aura that was created right here at Newport Pagnell, lest we forget.

Why good, original cars are best

Our subject car is a working explanation, a visual lesson, if you will, of why originality is so highly prized. The 32-year-old paint was holding up well, there were only one or two tiny blemishes in the chrome and, rounding off the package, it still stood on the correct, tall Avon tires, which should please the trainspotters among us. Period-correct rubber is an essential detail for the right stance, but one that’s easy to overlook and which grates horribly when it’s wrong. Low-profiles just aren’t the thing on these.

All this tells us the car was looked after by owners who care. Restoring any of the David Brown-era cars costs just about the money paid here. DB6 values aren’t yet high enough to support a full restoration, so it’s essential to buy a nice, no-needs car to avoid going underwater. This was it.

The original owner, Mr. Parry, not only ordered his car to the enhanced Vantage specification, but he appears to have been an enthusiast with Astons in his blood, as records and photographs on file showed that his father owned Astons pre-war, while a friend had a DB5. In the boot (trunk) was a box of cleaning equipment still bearing Mr. Parry’s name and address. In 1977, he found that the registration VDB 6, eminently suitable for a DB6 Vantage, was available so it was changed over from the original KEY 240G.

When Mr. Parry sold the car in 1983, the only mechanical work suggested by the factory was a 10,000-mile service, which the car had just reached. But the new owner also decided on a complete repaint at Newport Pagnell in the original Dark Oyster — and the replacement of all rubber components.

Since then, the Aston has covered only another 5,000 or so miles, during which time it’s been maintained by the factory and more recently by Goldsmith & Young, whose principal, John Goldsmith, is chairman of the AMOC. G&Y has rebuilt the suspension with harder springs all round, telescopic shock absorbers at the rear and an improved front anti-roll bar, and also rebuilt the cylinder head with larger valves and unleaded-tolerant seats, while resisting the usual temptation to punch the motor out to 4.2 liters at the same time.

Low miles, great shape and gorgeous

So let’s recap. Aside from not being a Mk II (and I, for one, think the flared arches of the late cars have not aged well), it was the most desirable model, and if not factory-original, it was the next best thing, with the paint applied in the same place that built the car.

It was a Vantage, with a manual shift. Its lines were unsullied by a sliding sunroof, which were popular when the cars were new but jar today. It had only covered a tiny mileage (15,258), and cradled an eye-poppingly, mouth-wateringly luscious interior that transported you right back to the old days. And it sported a great number plate too!

No wonder someone thought it was worth $150k over the odds, arriving $100k north of even Bonhams’ high estimate, after some agonizingly protracted bidding in indulgently small increments of £1,000. Well sold — and full marks to auctioneer Jamie Knight for his patience, which paid off — but also creatively bought. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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