The 15 Best Aston Martins of All Time

Apr 13, 2022

Category: Rides

If asked to name a country that’s known for producing great sports cars, most people would say Italy first. After all, the boot-shaped European nation is home to Lamborghini and Ferrari, along with Maserati, Pagani, Alfa Romeo… you get the idea. But giving Italy a run for its money — with a lot less fanfare — is the United Kingdom. The British Isles gave birth to McLaren, Lotus, Jaguar, TVR, and perhaps the greatest of them all, Aston Martin. Arguably no automaker has offered a greater blend of refined luxury and thrilling performance throughout its history, which is why we decided it was time to round up the best Aston Martins of all time.

Compared to the relatively steady history of its chief rivals Porsche and Ferrari, Aston Martin has had a wildly inconsistent run over its 109-year lifespan. Seemingly on the verge of bankruptcy once per decade and frequently undergoing ownership changes and succumbing to the whims of ever-changing corporate overlords, Aston Martin has often struggled just to survive another day. And yet, through it all, the automaker has consistently churned out incredible cars with head-turning performance and style that’s second to none. We’ve rounded up our 15 favorite Aston Martin cars ever in this guide, so have a look below and see which ones made the cut.

A Complicated History

The Ups & Downs Of Aston Martin

Aston Martin was founded in 1913 in London by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, who were interested in building cars that were faster and better looking than what was available at the time — and they were more than willing to personally put their creations to the test. The company actually received its name after Martin raced one of the pair’s cars in the Aston Clinton Hill Climb race in Buckinghamshire and won, making “Aston Martin” synonymous with the success of the company’s cars.

Aston Martin remained largely unknown outside of Britain until the arrival of David Brown, the man who would ultimately create the identity for the marque that remains today. In charge of Aston Martin from 1947 to 1972, Brown turned Aston into a global brand and created its reputation of a maker of world-class grand tourers through his signature “DB” line of luxurious 2+2 sports cars. It was also during Brown’s tenure that the brand saw its greatest success on the racetrack, with the DBR1’s victory at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans being particularly noteworthy.

Aston was financially troubled throughout Brown’s tenure, but matters became even worse in the ensuing decades. All told, Aston Martin has been through a whopping seven bankruptcies, and narrowly avoided an eighth in 2020 following the company’s distraught-filled listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2018. The company has also changed hands nearly a dozen times, with its most significant post-David Brown owner being Ford, which owned the British marque for two decades from 1987 through 2007. Today, Aston is a publicly-traded company, with Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll being the closest thing to a traditional owner, as his consortium owns 25% of the company and he acts as the brand’s Executive Chairman. With the successful recent launch of the brand’s first SUV in the DBX, production beginning on the exciting Valkyrie hypercar, and an electric future on the horizon, things seem to be looking up once again for Aston Martin — hopefully for good.

The Coolest Cars In The World

The Mythos Of The Marque

The story of Aston Martin cannot be told without discussing the elephant in the room. Or, rather, the superspy in the room. There is zero chance that Aston Martin would have the near-mythical reputation it enjoys today were it not for the marque’s association with James Bond. The biggest blockbuster movie franchise of the 1960s — and the series that invented the concept of a blockbuster movie franchise — 007 became a massive pop-culture phenomenon. With Sean Connery’s suave secret agent being the ultimate arbiter of taste and style for the time period, naturally, whatever car he drove would enjoy the same kind of reputation. So when Bond settled on a 1964 DB5 in 1964’s Goldfinger, it changed the trajectory of Aston Martin forever.

One of the most famous cars in the world thanks to its role in the film franchise, the DB5 remains Aston’s most iconic model, and it will forever be known as the “Bond Car.” Bond has driven other cars over the years — from Lotus, BMW, and others — but he always returns to Aston, whether it’s his trusty DB5, an AMV8 Vantage, a V12 Vanquish, a DBS, or even a DB10 concept car. The six-decade association with 007 has given Aston a coolness factor that’s difficult to quantify, as the marque will forever be linked to style, luxury, and a thrilling, jet-setting lifestyle thanks to its tenure at the movies.

Of course, Aston’s Hollywood connection would be for naught if it didn’t have the cars to back it up, and you could argue that Aston is just as crucial to making James Bond look good as the other way around. While there are cars that are better performing, more powerful, and more luxurious than Aston Martins, one could easily argue that no one makes cars that are more beautiful. Beauty is at the heart of every Aston Martin, and every aspect of the brand’s handcrafted cars is designed with beauty in mind. The marque is even famous for utilizing the golden ratio — an aesthetically pleasing mathematical concept witnessed in nature — as a governing principle in its designs, truly making each Aston Martin a work of automotive art.

Photo: Aston Martin

DBR1

Although Aston Martin got its start in 1913, the brand didn’t really come into its own until the 1950s, thanks to the arrival of David Brown with his DB-monikered grand tourers and this iconic racecar. With the World Sports Car Championship and Le Mans changing their rules in 1956, allowing for non-production cars to compete, Aston decided to go all-out by building a pure racecar that wasn’t intended for street use. The result was the legendary DBR1. Designed with a low-slung body around a multi-tubular chassis and fitted with an all-aluminum straight-six engine in the front, the DBR1 quickly found success on the track, with its greatest feat coming in 1959 when it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Tourist Trophy, and at the Nürburgring. Just five of the racers were ever built, with the first example — which had been driven by the likes of Carroll Shelby and Stirling Moss — breaking the record for the most expensive British car ever sold at auction when it went for $22,555,000 in 2017.

Years Produced: 1956-1959
Engine: 2.5L or 3.0L I6
Horsepower: Up to 255

Photo: Aston Martin

DB4GT Zagato

While Aston Martin’s first DB sports cars — the DB2, DB2/4, and DB MKIII — helped set the brand on the grand touring track that would eventually come to define it, it was the DB4 that truly cracked the formula, thanks to its Italian firm-designed aluminum body (penned by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan) and its unheard-of performance. The DB4 was the first production car to go from 0-100mph in under 30 seconds — and it did it in 21. Improving upon the DB4 was the GT variant, which was lighter, faster, and had a shorter wheelbase than the standard model. Bettering the form even further was the legendary and rare DB4GT Zagato. The first of several Astons over many decades to be designed in conjunction with Italian coachbuilder Zagato, the DB4GT Zagato was smaller, lighter, and faster than even the DB4GT, but what really separated the car were its looks. The Zagato boasted a new and exotic body that looked like nothing else on the road, and its head-turning looks — combined with the fact that just 19 were produced — have made it one of the most collectible Aston Martins ever.

Years Produced: 1960-1963
Engine: 3.7L I6
Horsepower: 314

Photo: Aston Martin

DB5

If there is one Aston Martin car that you know, it’s this one. The DB5 is sometimes referred to as the most famous car in the world thanks to its association with James Bond. Since making its big-screen debut in 1964’s Goldfinger, the DB5 has gone on to appear in six more of the franchise’s films. The car’s celebrity also inspired Aston Martin to bring it back into production in 2020 through its Aston Martin Works division, with 25 DB5 Goldfinger Continuation cars produced featuring working gadgets inspired by the ones seen on screen. As for the original DB5, it was clear why James Bond would have selected it as his ride of choice in the mid-’60s. The car boasted sleeker, improved styling compared to the standard DB4, along with boosted performance thanks to its bored-out aluminum straight-six engine and new ZF 5-speed gearbox. The DB5 was one of the premier sports cars of its era, and it will forever be the definitive Aston Martin.

Years Produced: 1963-1965
Engine: 4.0L I6
Horsepower: 282

Photo: Aston Martin

AMV8

Moving out of Aston Martin’s first golden age — and away from cars that begin with “DB” for a moment — we have the Aston Martin V8, a car that holds the distinction of having the longest production run of any Aston, as it was produced for a full 18 years from 1972 until 1990. An evolution of the earlier DBS, the AMV8 doubled down on its predecessor’s American muscle car-inspired styling to great effect while also incorporating its 5.4L V8 engine under the hood. With its large hood scoop, bold grille, sculpted spoiler, and modern silhouette, the AMV8 signaled a stylish new direction for Aston Martin — and a fast one, too. The car really came into its own in 1977, when the AMV8 Vantage was introduced. Hailed as Britain’s first supercar, the Vantage claimed a 40% increase in horsepower over the standard AMV8, making the car the fastest four-seater in the world with a 0-60-mph time of 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 170mph. The Vantage would spend the rest of its life as Aston’s flagship, and even caught the attention of Mr. Bond, co-starring in 1987’s The Living Daylights and making a triumphant return in the most recent 007 installment, No Time to Die.

Years Produced: 1972-1990
Engine: 5.3L V8
Horsepower: Up to 432

Photo: Aston Martin

Bulldog

Apparently not satisfied with the 170-mph performance of the AMV8 Vantage — which, again, was extremely impressive stuff for the 1970s — Aston’s engineers set out to make a 200-mph monster the likes of which no one had ever seen. The result was the Bulldog, one of the greatest one-off prototype cars ever made. Crafted with a near-perfect and incredibly dramatic wedge design, the Bulldog looked more like a spaceship than its wrinkly namesake. Appearing as if it arrived from the distant future in 1979, the concept featured gullwing doors, a hidden row of headlights in the middle of the hood, and an LED screen-filled cockpit. It was also the first Aston to feature a rear-mid-engine layout, with its twin-turbo 5.3L V8 making 600HP behind the driver. As impressive as the Bulldog was — and it was impressive, having reached 191mph on a test track — the world wasn’t ready for such an extreme car. While a production run of around 20 cars was initially planned, just the lone Bulldog was ever produced. That car is still around, by the way, and is currently being rehabilitated by Classic Motor Cars in an attempt to finally achieve the 200-mph threshold some four decades later.

Years Produced: 1979
Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 5.3L V8
Horsepower: 600

Photo: Aston Martin

DB7

As we’ve noted previously, Aston Martin has been on the brink a number of times, and one of its biggest saviors came in the form of the DB7. By the early ‘90s, the company just wasn’t selling many cars. Its lineup had just said farewell to the very long-in-the-tooth AMV8 and consisted of the boxy and heavy V8-powered Virage and Vantage. A better-looking, smaller, and more crowd-pleasing Aston was needed, and with parent company Ford funding its development, the DB7 became that car. The first DB since the DBS ended production over two decades prior in 1972, the DB7 boasted new design language from the legendary Ian Callum, who was lending a hand from then-sister brand Jaguar, and this design language would go on to inform the next generation of Astons. One of the most beautiful cars of the ‘90s and built on the cheap thanks to a roster of parts from Ford’s stable of manufacturers, the DB7 became a massive success, far outpacing the production numbers of any Aston that preceded it. Originally offered with a supercharged V6, the DB7 eventually was fitted with a V12 and more aggressive styling to become the DB7 Vantage, which briefly sat atop Aston’s lineup prior to the introduction of our next entrant.

Years Produced: 1994-2004
Engine: Supercharged 3.2L I6 or 5.9L V12
Horsepower: Up to 429

Photo: Aston Martin

V12 Vanquish

Outside of the DB5’s brief appearance in 1995’s Goldeneye, Aston Martin had been absent from the Bond franchise for the entirety of Pierce Brosnan’s tenure as 007, thanks to the franchise’s endorsement deal with BMW. But for Brosnan’s 2002 swan song Die Another Day, a deal was made to bring Aston back into the fold — and it made quite the splash when it did. Representing the brand on screen was the Callum-designed Vanquish, introducing a new generation to the type of automotive beauty and power that one can only get from an Aston Martin. With a bonded aluminum chassis and a plethora of carbon fiber found throughout its body, the Vanquish was the most technologically advanced Aston ever made at the time, and its 460-HP 5.9L V12 engine made it a true supercar. Later, the 520-HP Vanquish S was introduced, which became just the second Aston to reach a 200-mph top speed, following the 600-HP, 600-LB-FT 1999 Vantage Le Mans.

Years Produced: 2001-2007
Engine: 5.9L V12
Horsepower: Up to 520

Photo: Aston Martin

DB9

Has there ever been a car with more perfect proportions than the DB9? No, no there has not. Designed by Ian Callum and Henrik Fisker, two guys who know a thing or two about automotive design, the car makes outstanding use of Aston’s golden ratio philosophy and is just gorgeous from every angle. The direct successor to the DB7 in Aston’s lineage of grand tourers, the DB9 skipped the “8” designation because it was considered such a massive leap over its predecessor. Only ever fitted with a V12 from the start and featuring one of the loveliest and classiest interiors ever seen in a car, the DB9 combined robust power (some later versions made as much as 540HP), classic British luxury, and unmatched looks to create the perfect GT car. It’s no wonder then that the DB9 lasted for a dozen years and became one of Aston Martin’s best-selling models ever.

Years Produced: 2005-2016
Engine: 5.9L V12
Horsepower: Up to 540

Photo: Aston Martin

One-77

While Ian Callum didn’t work on the One-77, his inspiration is certainly felt, as the car is basically the most extreme interpretation of the design language he established with the DB7, DB9, and Vanquish. Created to be the ultimate Aston Martin — with just 77 produced and costing over one million pounds — the One-77 combined its true supercar design with next-gen technology and the greatest performance ever seen in an Aston Martin. Easily the fastest Aston ever at the time of its release, the One-77’s 7.3L V12 made 750HP (the most powerful NA production car engine at the time) and propelled the car to a 220-mph top speed. Combining a lightweight carbon fiber monocoque chassis with a seamless aluminum bodyshell, the One-77 would prove massively inspirational to the next decade of Aston Martin autos.

Years Produced: 2009-2012
Engine: 7.3L V12
Horsepower: 750

Photo: Aston Martin

Vulcan

If the One-77 wasn’t quite extreme or exclusive enough for you, then allow us to introduce you to the Vulcan. With a price tag of $2.3 million, a production run of just 24 cars, and its track-only status — that’s right, the car is not street-legal — the Vulcan is very much a plaything for the wealthiest of the elite. But still… just look at it. Forget James Bond, this thing looks like the Batmobile. Designed by Aston’s Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman, who also penned the One-77, the Vulcan mates a 7.0L V12 with an aluminum chassis, a carbon fiber body, and loads of tech. The car’s extreme aero kit generates GT3-class levels of downforce, while its engine puts out a massive 820HP. The fastest Aston ever at the time it was built, the Vulcan — like the One-77, with which it shares some components — helped steer Aston toward loftier goals in its modern era.

Years Produced: 2015-2016
Engine: 7.0L V12
Horsepower: 820

Photo: Aston Martin

Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake

If you’re struggling to find a resemblance between this Vanquish and the one that appears earlier on this list, you’re not going crazy: they’re not related. Based on the second generation Vanquish, which was designed by Reichman and began its life five years after the first generation ended its run, the Zagato Shooting Brake is what happens when automotive designers are allowed to basically do whatever they want for the sheer fun of it. Arguably the most beautiful wagon ever made by anyone, the oddball Vanquish Shooting Brake was one of four Zagato takes on the second-gen Vanquish, along with a coupe, convertible, and speedster. The Shooting Brake is by far the most striking, the most daring, and the most surprising, resulting in the most beloved Zagato-designed Aston since the Italian coachbuilder got its hands on the DB4GT. In addition to its wild looks, the Vanquish Zagato is also a worthy performer, with a nearly 600-HP output and a top speed of over 200mph — not bad for a family-hauler.

Years Produced: 2017-2019
Engine: 6.0L V12
Horsepower: 580

Photo: Aston Martin

DB11

The current standard-bearer of the DB moniker, the DB11 is arguably the greatest GT car that Aston has ever made. While most would argue that it’s not quite as aesthetically pleasing as the DB9, few would make the case that it’s not a better car at the end of the day (though it’s not so much better that Aston again decided to skip a number in its naming convention — DB10 was already taken by a concept developed specifically for the Bond movie Spectre). The DB11’s main claim to fame, in addition to being one of the best grand tourers ever, is that it kicked off the current generation of Aston. The brand’s new direction has seen a massive change of strategy, where each model has its own unique identity and appearance in the lineup. Compare this to the previous generation, where the DB9, DBS, Virage, and even the smaller V8 Vantage all featured nearly identical styling. The DB11 changed the game for Aston, and it’s the same game the marque is still playing (and winning) today.

Years Produced: 2017-Present
Engine: 4.0L Twin-Turbocharged V8 or Twin-Turbocharged 5.2L V12
Horsepower: Up to 630

Photo: Aston Martin

Vantage

You know what we just said about the DB11 ushering in a new generation of Astons that were more willing to mix things up? This is what we were talking about. The sleek new Vantage, with its massive grille cribbed from the Vulcan, DB10-style thin headlights, and available neon colorways, is the wildest regular production car that Aston has ever made. Described as a “Predator” in Aston’s marketing campaigns, the Vantage is a markedly different car from its predecessor. While the outgoing Vantage looked like the DB9’s kid brother and was dogged by performance inadequacies its entire life, the current generation faces no such challenges. With over 500HP and a near-200-mph top speed in its base V8 spec — and a whopping 700-hp output and 200-mph+ top speed in its new V12 guise — plus its dialed-in handling, the Vantage is a true sports car; not a mini grand tourer like the older generation. At long last, the Vantage has maybe, just maybe, lived up to its promise as a Porsche 911-killer.

Years Produced: 2018-Present
Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 4.0L V8 or Twin-Turbocharged 5.2L V12
Horsepower: Up to 690

Photo: Aston Martin

DBS Superleggera

Aston’s current everyday supercar flagship and successor to the Vanquish, the new DBS is an absolutely brutal monster. It’s an old-school front-engined, RWD grand tourer that’s been dialed up to 11, putting down 715HP and 664LB-FT of torque. With all of that massive power going to the rear wheels only, the DBS sometimes has trouble getting all of it delivered efficiently — the car is maybe too powerful for how it’s set up. But none of that matters once you’re in the thing. The modern DBS is all about excess — just take a look at that gaping maw of a blacked-out mesh grille and that wide, muscular stance — and it’s arguably the most unrefined and unrestrained regular production Aston ever. Despite that, however, the car still somehow maintains that unmistakable Aston Martin beauty, and we dare you to find a car capable of hitting 211mph that does so while looking as good as this.

Years Produced: 2018-Present
Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 5.2L V12
Horsepower: 715

Photo: Aston Martin

Valkyrie

First revealed as the AM-RB 001 concept in 2016 with the stated goal of becoming the fastest street-legal car in existence, the Valkyrie still hasn’t been delivered to any customers yet. But that day is rapidly approaching — the car entered production last year — and we’re anxiously awaiting the day when road tests start rolling in for this specimen. Co-developed with Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie is Aston’s first-ever hypercar, and it’s decidedly absurd. The car is powered by a naturally-aspirated 6.5L V12 that makes 1,000HP on its own but is paired with an unusual hybrid setup that utilizes an electric motor to increase torque at takeoff and boost power overall, giving the car a total power output of 1,140HP. The Valkyrie’s body is also all kinds of strange, with massive cutouts everywhere you look to increase aerodynamics and cut down on weight. The car’s body and structure are made entirely from carbon fiber without a single steel component, and it weighs just 1,030kg, giving it a power-to-weight ratio greater than 1:1. The Valkyrie may end up being the most bonkers car built by anyone, and we shouldn’t be too surprised that Aston is the one who built it.

Years Produced: 2022-Present
Engine: 6.5L V12 Hybrid
Horsepower: 1,160

Honorable mention:

Photo: Aston Martin

Victor

We couldn’t close out this list without mentioning the Victor. Using a leftover carbon fiber monocoque and V12 engine from a One-77 prototype, Aston’s bespoke Q unit decided to make a one-off for a client inspired by the AMV8 Vantage, and the result is quite possibly the single coolest car ever made. Looking like Aston Martin’s take on a 21st-century muscle car, the blacked-out Victor is old-fashioned in the best ways. The car’s front-engined, RWD setup is powered by an NA twelve-pack making an incredible 836HP and 613LB-FT of torque, and all of that might is controlled through an old-fashioned six-speed manual transmission. Only Aston Martin could pull off such a project and have it come out looking, sounding, and performing this well — and that’s what makes Aston Martin one of the greatest car makers in the world.

Years Produced: 2020
Engine: 7.3L V12
Horsepower: 836

The 15 Best Ferraris of All Time

One of Aston Martin’s chief rivals throughout its history has been Ferrari, with the Prancing Horse arguably coming out on top in most of their battles. So what is it that makes Ferrari the most admired automotive brand in the world? Have a look at our guide to the marque’s 15 best models to find out.

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