Aston Martin DB9/DBS Buyers Guide
If you know anything about us here at Exotic Car Hacks, it’s the fact that we are keen on the Aston Martin brand. Having almost half a dozen personal case studies done on the Aston Martin DB9, DBS, and Vantage, it’s not hard to see that Aston Martins are some of the best cars to use with the methods we teach. With most of these models already hitting their bottom out dollar as far as depreciation goes in price, the only way to lessen the values of these cars now is by condition and mileage, making them optimal buys and resales if done properly.
Some of the most striking cars in the fleet of Aston Martin’s though have to be the DB series, with phenomenal power and design, they are perfect cars for the dollar they are placed at now that don’t require much maintenance and are the perfect combination of luxury and sport.
The DBS/DB9s are different cars from their counterparts, but also each other. When considering the DB9 or the DBS keep in mind that the two are separate vehicles with contrasting components only sharing frame build, transmission, and the first two letters DB given to them by the first time buyer of Aston Martin (after the British automotive company fell on hard times after World Ward II) Sir David Brown. You want to be sure before purchasing either one of these two cars you know the distinctions and similarities that may make a world of difference when buying and potentially reselling for a profit.
The DB9 was designed to drive a wedge between luxury vehicles such as the Bentley Continental and the Ferrari 360. And it did just that, being released for the first time at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2003. One unique thing Aston did with the DB9 is they released the coupe and convertible at the same time, avoiding depreciation of one model versus the other in the years to come. Aston wanted to give this car a performance edge, keeping weight distribution at 50/50 by pulling the 444hp 6.0 liter V-12 further back into the engine bay, gave it a ZF six-speed automatic transmission with a transaxle layout, and built the frame out of aluminum. Staying a optimal model for production, the DB9 only recently seized production in 2016, exiting with the GT and Bond editions that trumped the base 2004 models by outputting 540hp with the same 6.0 liter V-12. Quite a way to go.
The DBS was actually first introduced in the 2006 movie Casino Royale as James Bond’s beauty. Still keeping the V-12 6.0 liter, the DBS is tuned to 510hp and features the full aluminum frame as the DB9 but continues to reduce weight and improve performance with the addition of carbon fiber to the fender, hood, and trunk. The rear subframe is solidly mounted with the trunk and door frame molds being significantly lighter. Specific to the DBS thought is the cross-car dashboard supporting beam made of cast that improves stiffness and steering-column shake.
While these two may be different beasts under the hood, on the surface they are siblings for sure. The iconic front of the Aston Martin has only evolved slightly through it’s years. Remember the DBS/DB9 share many common features especially aesthetically so the body style isn’t all that different. The face of the DB series is made up of the iconic multi-slate split grill, with air intakes hugging at three spots on the front fender. The DBS has the optional carbon splitter under the front frame to give a more aggressive look. Above sits the two eyes made of the HID xenon headlamps that only evolved with the rest of the technology inside the Aston Martin brand to make them brighter and better as the years went on. Hiding under the hood is the mid-engine design of Aston Martin that also got better with age, becoming more light-weight and with a better differential, allowing for the best possible driving experience. Two slits on the side of the hood covered with mesh-metal allow for more airflow out of the engine bay to let the 6.0 V12 breathe. The DBS however has the upgraded hood, adding two more air vents directly in the center of the hood at an angle to sit wide and deep, giving it that sportier edge over the DB9. A wide and angled dash slops low and down so you can see the road ahead of you without craning your neck or feeling any fear of loss of visibility.
Along the sides, you are greeted with the curves that Aston Martin is known for. Elegance and performance are two things this brand has learned to graciously marry. The elongated angular headlights curve back into the side panels that house the multi-spoke 20 inch alloy aluminum wheels. The doors were upgraded from the DB9 to the DBS with a light weight base to give a more aerodynamic feel to the car itself. Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to the DB style along the body, not too many lines or curves to take away from the simplistic beauty.
A squarish hump comes along the back quarter panel to mold into the trunk/cargo space. The body gains more of a “hotness” once looking from behind. The curvature of the upward spoiler allows for a performance addition of downforce to the aerodynamics. The dual slotted lines of tail lights run on top with red for night time distinction and both light up once pressed for the brake, with an option to take out the center line of body color to opt for a clear or even carbon fiber piece. The bumper sits with a center cutout with more airflow vents along the center and on the sides sit the dual chrome tip exhaust pipes that emit a sound unlike any other, stock or not.
The Aston Martin DB series takes on an uncomplicated approach when discussing exotic or luxury cars. Rather than taking on the flashy or over the top design that is famous to Ferrari’s or Lamborghini’s, Aston brings the sense of total refinement to your supercar experience. With a car with such a rich history and a stalemate of 007 perfection, it is easy to see why Aston Martin has too the test of time.
The DB series comes in many different options ad far as driving experience goes, keep that in mind when purchasing one of your very own.
In 2004 at the launch of the DB9, the only transmission available was the automatic ZF transmission that sat with paddle shifters to control gears when in the correct mode. After 2005 the Graziano manual six speed transmission became an option, but only about five percent of DB9s were ordered with a stick shift, making these models exceedingly rare and more valuable than the rest.
The DB9 then got its performance upgrade after 2009, tuned up to 470 horse power and toque from 420lbs to 443lbs. Aston upgraded the transmission as well, allowing for quicker and smoother shifts. In 2010 a performance option package came out for the DB9, the Premium Sports Pack, with a heightened differential, suspension, handling, and feel. More than half of the DB9’s are suspected to be spec’d with the Sports Pack option making it easy to find and better t drive than its base model brothers…if you’re a fan of the heightened driving experience.
The DBS had a shorter run with less room for improvements, but why fix something if it isn’t broken. Being released in 2008 with the same transmission methodology of it’s older brother, the DBS was introduced with the ZF gear box and paddle shifting. Some special editions were made between 09-10 to be six speed manual, but after that from 2010-2012 they were all automatics. There is no clutch in the DBS taking away sticky clutch issues that these gearboxes are known for in the early Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s.
When comparing driving experience take the later models of the DB9 to the DBS, anything without a Sports Pack on a DB9 simply doesn’t compare to the driving experience you get with the DBS. 85% of the weight of the car is kept between the wheels which increased the handling and responsiveness. Making tight corners any easy feet for the DBS. The Adaptive Damping System that came standard with all DBS models alters the suspension in order for the car to match the drivers desired driving experience in different road or weather conditions. When turned on, the ADS is in complete automatic control of altering the suspension to ensure the driver is in control at all times. The DBS also holds an increased brake and throttle response compared to the DB9, along with sharper steering and stiffer suspension. The carbon fiber integrated throughout the DBS allows for a light-weight and aerodynamic feel, as apposed to the DB9 that has little to no carbon, taking almost 70 pounds from the DB9. The carbon ceramic brakes are also to thank for the more intense driving experience, making stopping on a dime both easy and sometimes even fun to do.
The interior of the Aston Martin DB series are close to identical. Made up with a blend of alcantara, leather, optional wood or carbon fiber, stainless steel, and aluminum surfaces. The elegance carries on from the outside in. While the styling options for interior design are not as vast as the Italian competition, sometimes less is more. With few color options to chose from, always ensure the stitching is quality and complimentary, it is one of the most striking options these cars possess. Capable of being a four passenger car doesn’t necessarily mean it is ideal to be a four passenger car. The back seats while luxurious in design are fit for midgets only. If you’re lucky enough to be sitting behind the wheel you feel the sense of total control right away. Aston likes it’s historic roots and that is evident with the simple style of the steering wheel, having the necessary controls for radio volume, menu options, trunk latch, the ’S’ sport mode, and paddle shifters all a fingers grasp away. The dash itself is not LCD like many others, keeping the gauges classic and mechanical, with gas gauge, speedometer, odometer, RPM, and oil pressure all visible to see. The center console is where the timeless crystal key goes, right in the center in between the P R N D gear buttons, a classier and $2,000 version of the ‘push to start’. The key is a Swarovski crystal key that Aston Martin likes to refer to as the “Emotional Control Unit”. They made this key to be the heart of the car, not letting it be some key fob that simply sits in your pocket but the actual instrument for engaging the car itself. Above the key slot sits the standard 7inch LCD screen that houses the navigation, radio, bluetooth, and possible rear reverse camera display. The toggle for this LCD screen sits in the center of the console between the buttons and knobs for climate control, seat heaters, and AC temperature. Below those buttons sit your standard traction control, parking brake, hazard lights, and USB port. Nothing compares when driving an Aston Martin, it’s part of the reason we have owned so many here at Exotic Car Hacks. They offer both power and prestige, something that is hard to come by in the supercar world. It is both a daily driver and a race car. It is a car that any one of any age could drive with confidence and control. Through the years Aston has only improved on the way its vehicles are made, with the driver of the car specifically in mind, the DB series show that with ever turn of the wheel.
Aston Martin DB Series Common Problems
It seems to be a common theme with cars in the six figure range that they come with more issues than cars we see out and about by the hundreds like Toyota Camry’s.
Aston Martin has done the best it can, however, to eliminate these problems and offer the most reliable ownership experience possible.
Unfortunately they did not succeed with the DB Series, while minuscule problems are few and far between, the recalls on these cars are tremendous and need to be preformed before any purchase is made.
- Seat Assembly: Front Seat Heater/Cooler (Recall ID: 14V753000)
Effecting certain 2006-2014 DB9/DBS models, the electronic control module for the seat heaters may fail, overheating and smoldering the seat, increasing the risk of injury to the seated occupant.
- Latches: Locks (Recall ID: 15V846000)
Effecting certain DB9 models from 2010-2015 and certain DBS models from 2010-2012, faulty locks have been reported when the vehicle has been locked from the outside and when these locks don’t properly function the occupants of the vehicle may become trapped inside.
- Speed: Accelerator Pedal (Recall ID: 14V010000)
Effecting certain DB9 models from 2008-2014, the accelerator pedal arm is weakened and may break, causing the engine to return to idle and the driver would be unable to maintain or increase speed resulting in a risk of crash.
- Suspension: Front Lower Control Arm (Recall ID: 10V449000)
Effecting certain 2007-2008 DB9 models and DBS models. The front bottom suspension arm cam bolt could crack and allow movement to the suspension, losing steering control and increasing the risk of crash.
- Power Train: Automatic Transmission (Recall ID: 14V425000)
Effecting only certain 2014 DB9 models, a faulty circuit board, the transmission may unexpectedly shift to neutral and the driver will be unable to maintain speed or move the vehicle out of traffic to avoid a crash.
Other common issues that present themselves in the DB Series are:
- Carbon Ceramic Brake Squeal
After the evolution of the carbon breaks in the DBS, they seemed to be more keen on the squealing noises than usual, to the point where it can become unbearable
- Battery Reliability
Some owners have reported that earlier versions of the DB9 tend to have a little bit of an issue with their batteries. Wether it not hold or charge or just a simple short in standard battery implementation, any issues that were had seemed to be resolved quickly by Aston Martin’s service department.
- Convertible Wear
With an convertible there is going to be wear and tear in the mechanisms, the Volante’s are not excused from that. The more you open and close the top, the quicker the mechanism will begin to give out and stick in place wether up or down.
Aston Martin DB Series Cost of Ownership/Maintenance
Being hand built cars, there will always be more room for error, Aston Martin wants to do the most it can for its owners, making it easier than you think to own one of these beauties. The Aston Martin DB Series had a change in warranty policy (making it 3 year/unlimited mile warranty) after 2012, but before that the DB9 had a 3 year/100,000 mile warranty and the DBS had a 2 year/ 100,000 mile warranty. Unlike it’s British counterpart, McLaren, Aston Martin makes i very easy and pleasant to bring your vehicle into service, with plenty of dealerships all over the country. It’s also easier to care for seeing as independent shops are more than capable to work on Aston Martins.
Aston Martins have the same service schedule that most cars do, every 1 yr or 10,000 miles there is a about a $1,000 service that includes brake fluid change, oil filter replacement, a brake fluid check (either once a year or once every two-years), and a vehicle inspection. The price stays somewhat constant through the years, sometimes being upped by $70-$400 depending on the mile marker and what needs to be done once the vehicle becomes higher mileage.
Unlike McLaren and Ferrari, warranty will not be voided if you chose to do service with independent dealerships, which will save you a TON of money in the long run. An indecent dealer will charge somewhere between $300-$400 for the same $1,000 service Aston would charge for a simple oil change routine. A brake flush at an independent shop will run you about $200 where Aston will charge you an extra $325. Always be cautious of your brakes, the carbon ceramics are a life saver on the roads but can be a killer in your pocket. A full on brake job, usually needed by being reckless with your car, swapping out the stock brakes, etc…can cost you a total of $30,000, each rotor costing $6,000. So better to always be safe than sorry.
We have found success finding parts (repair or modification) for the Aston Martin models for cheap on astonmartinbits.com
Aston Martin DB Series Model Year Changes
These models were the first of their kind, taking over for the Aston Martin DB7. Releasing both the coupe and the Volante, the DB9 came out with the 6.0 liter V-12 engine, giving the beast 444 horsepower and the same basic design as spoken about above.
No longer made in manual transmission.
The DB9 was given a slight performance enhancement after the introduction of the DBS in 2008. Its engine was tuned to 470 horsepower and torque upped to 443lbs. The Premium Sports Pack was introduced with a heightened differential, suspension, handling, and the Emotional Control Unit (crystal key starter) was introduced.
This was the first major facelift the DB9 got since it’s introduction in 2003. Though performance and handling was only tweaked slightly to keep up with local competition, the physical changes included a new more aggressive front bumper, a bright finish radiator grille, a re-shaped lower intake, and the addition of the Adaptive Damping System that increased comfort and improve handling.
Now that the Virage and DBS are gone from production, the DB9 had to step-up and fill in the gaps. Given another physical facelift with a new hood design, side air vents on the fenders, new rear bumper, and a bigger rear lip spoiler. On the performance side, the engine block has been revised to install a bigger throttle body and fuel pump that now has the ability to get 517 horsepower and 457 pounds of torque.
For the true DB9 lovers, Aston Martin created the DB9 Carbon Edition in both black and white external paint options. Still retaining all the power from the updated 2013 version, the Carbon Edition is made light-weight and powerful in appearance. All that could be carbon is carbon in these cars carbon fibre side strakes, rear lamp infills and black meshes and window surrounds reinforcing the powerful visual themes. The carbon theme can be extended further with optional carbon fibre front splitter, rear diffuser and mirror cap/arm features. The interior will be a given all possible carbon fiber options on the dash, a strong black theme all around with accent colors that match the brake calipers which can be in red, yellow, grey, or black.
The final year for the DB9 before it’s successor the DB11 hits the market and Aston is not letting this 13 year old legacy go quietly. Aston Martin decided to have the final version of the DB9 be a GT version. The DB9 GT is available in both coupe and Volante styles. The DB9 GT will be tuned to 540 horsepower with 457 pounds of torque. The GT keeps the elegance of the 2013 physical aspect with a few extra touches of carbon fiber, newly designed 20 inch wheels, and GT badging keeping the beauty unmarred. The interior has a few changes with an improved dashboard thanks to the Vanquish. Now all capacitive-touch buttons and knobs replace the DB9’s cheapish pieces, and a new LCD system is more intelligent than before. Numerous other touches dress up the space a standard microsuede steering-wheel, padded headliner, and, of course, tons of hand-stitched leather. Making the inside just as beautiful as the outside.
Though the DBS seems like a more integrated model year change for the DB9, the model stayed tried and true to what it was made to be. After it’s debuted in 2008, not many changes were made to the DBS until it’s pull off the market after 2012. In 2010 the DBS did get offered with the option of a Volante option as well as a Carbon Black version housing the same carbon theme as listed above in the DB9. More wheel and exterior options became available as well as some interior specifications tested out in the DB9 before. To send the DBS off to usher in the Vanquish, Aston produced 100 Ultimate editions that would be it’s grand finale. Aesthetically it is set apart by its painted rear spoiler, carbon fiber side mirrors, a blacked-out grille, black exhaust outlets, smoked tail lights, with yellow, black, or red brake calipers. Buyers can select from three exterior colors: Carbon Black II, Quantum Silver, or Silver Fox. The interior has been tricked out as well, with an Alcantara headliner and red or silver diamond-quilted stitching on the seat hides. Perhaps the greatest option being that for the first time since 2009 the DBS was offered with an optional six-speed manual transmission.
Aston Martin DB Series Options
Aston Martin has an eye for beauty, that is evident with every single model that it produces. The DB Series are elegant to the last detail and that is in part to the fact that Aston takes a lot of the design into their own hands and don’t let the buyer have too much input.
While some specs are optional and were given to the buyer to design when the cars were rolling off the factory floor, they were minimal and made to be kept tasteful. The options are also much more reasonably priced than that of it’s Italian competition.
Some options for the DB Series include:
- Optional caliper color: red, yellow, gray, or black= $0
- Glass Switch Kit (Dash buttons): $475
- Carbon Fiber Facia: $1,300
- Wood Veneer Facia: $2,650
- Alcantara Steering Wheel: $1,155
- Signature Sill Plaques for Door Frames: $430
- Carbon Fiber Mirror Caps: $1,795
- Gold Wings Badge: $1,040
So while there isn’t as much room to customize your DB Series like you can on a Ferrari 458, it is not to say that the memories you make in this car won’t serve as your own personal touches.
Best Year Aston Martin DB Series to Buy
Though it is in our own biased option that the DBS throughly trumps the DB9 when it comes to over all driving experience, the DB9 still carries some weight with its newer models.
For the DBS you’ll want to buy 2010-2012, giving you the option for the Volante as well as eliminating any problems that a first year car is bound to have.
For the DB9 we recommend purchasing your DB9 between 2010-2014. 2010-2012 would be ideal if you aren’t a fan of the updated body style that came with the 2013 release. In those years you’ll still get a sportier DB9 than it’s first generation, but you’ll also have the improved handling system, power, and the emotional control unit Go for the 2013-2014 if you are wanting your DB9 experience to be completely revamped with the new and flashy body style that was designed to over compensate for the loss of both the DBS and the Virage. For aesthetic and resale appeal, finding a Carbon Edition would be the best bet.
When it comes to exotic cars, you can’t go wrong with Aston Martins, especially being a member of Exotic Car Hacks. We have owned so many different models that we have practically done all the research for you, first hand, and with our own finances to prove it. These cars just don’t lose, especially the DB Series.
While every car has their tweaks and things you wish you could change, the DB Series are two of the most jaw dropping cars you could see out on the road today no matter which model or year. While the DB9 and DBS both out of production, their values will retain a little more than others. However, thanks to the DB11 we can expect to see a drop in price on some of the more base models (excluding DBS Ultimate/DB9 Carbon/GT) making the models we suggested for you above, easier to afford than ever. With a timeless elegance and a commanding sporty feel, its a wonder why these cars aren’t sitting in more driveways, specifically yours.