Manufacturers of handbuilt cars have always had cash flow problems and Aston Martin suffered along with the rest. The company's output of production cars fell to a record low of just 30 in 1982; sales increased somewhat when screen legend James Bond gained huge publicity for the DB5 but by 1991 sales were back in the doldrums; just 46 were made. Things were changing though.
In 1987, after numerous changes of ownership, Walter Hayes, then vice president of Ford of Europe, decided to buy into Aston Martin. Ford was decidedly not, however, in favour of the traditional hand beaten approach that the company had previously followed; he insisted that mass production methods had to be implemented. The result? Between late 1994 and late 2003 the company produced about 7000 DB7s alone. This car can fairly be called the saviour of the company.
The DB7, available as either a convertible or a coupe, was first unveiled in 1993 at the Geneva Salon. Much of it's platform owed it's ancestry to the Jaguar XJ-S; it's 3.3 six cylinders in line engine, based on the Jaguar unit, pushed out 335 brake horsepower. Later enhancements would add even more power.
Design work was carried out by Ian Callum of TVR who covered the walls of his office with pictures of the DB5 for inspiration! He created what was arguably one of the most beautiful cars of the period.
There were a number of compromises to be made however. Traditionalists were not at all keen on the fact that they were being offered a mass-produced car, rather than one which had been lovingly finished by hand. Head room in the cabin was restricted; taller drivers or passengers could feel cramped. Visibility to the rear was so poor as to be almost non-existent. Cheaper controls pirated from existing Ford cars took away some of the car's mystique.
Even the factory where it was manufactured raised some hackles. the company's traditional home in Newport Pagnell was ignored, with production switched to a factory in Bloxham in Oxfordshire, which had previously been earmarked for the Jaguar XJ220.
These were fairly minor , though, compared to the fact that the car could now be competitive, pricewise; a quality which was always elusive during the company's previous history. The DB7 was a resounding success and it put the company on a firm footing for the future.