Fresh input makes Aston Martin DB7 best in class

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 1996, 12:00am

When Ghia designer Ian Callum made the switch to Tom Walkinshaw's TWR Group, the chief stylist's first project was the classic Aston Martin DB7.

The coupe came first, followed by the beautiful, convertible Volante - a totally new car, not simply a chopped-off, closed car.

Mr Callum treated them as separate projects to ensure each car was an individual success. The DB7 Coupe was launched in Hong Kong late last year but the convertible is not available.

Although Aston Martin's parent, Ford, insisted on economies of scale, the DB7 takes 150 hours to build by hand, while the more expensive Aston Martin Virage takes more than 1,500 hours. This project had the blessing of the late Sir David Brown, owner of Aston Martin Lagonda from 1947-72.

Ford's influence is limited to some of the minor hardware such as lights and door handles which look as if they came from a Mondeo.

The engine is a masterpiece of engineering. Hand-built by TWR, the 3.2-litre, super-charged six-cylinder lump produces a hefty 335 bhp and, despite the 1650-kilogram weight of the DB7, will take the luxury sports model to an electronically limited top speed of 266 kilometres per hour. It reaches 100 km/h in just 5.7 seconds.

The torque output from the aluminium engine is a whopping 490 Nm at a leisurely 3,000 rpm.

DB7 owners will be able to appreciate the luxurious interior with beautifully crafted Connolly hide seats and burr walnut panelling.

Ankle-deep carpets and a magnificent six-speaker Sony sound system complete the appointments, while twin air-bags and side impact bars take care of passive safety.

On the road, the DB7 is impeccable in its handling, thanks to the input by triple-world champion Jackie Stewart, who refined the suspension and steering to such an extent that the car is probably the best front-engined car in its class.

Only a mid-engined rival could surpass the roadholding of the DB7 on its massive 18-inch aluminium alloy wheels, with low profile 245/40 Bridgestone tyres.