Celebrating 60 years of the DB5 with Aston Martin at Goodwood Revival
The year is 1963. The sounds on the radio have changed their tune for eternity as The Beatles release their debut LP, “Please, Please Me”, revolutionising pop culture. A few weeks later, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts, stumbled onto a stage and The Rollin’ Stones made their first ever appearance at London’s Marquee Club. Meanwhile, across the pond, the Beach Boys were touring the California coastline as Steve McQueen launched a Triumph Bonneville over a barbed wire fence in The Great Escape. Martin Luther King called for fair freedom and equality for all Americans in his historic “I have a dream” oration and, as thousands watched in disbelief, U.S President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on live television.
The year of ‘63 was the year that the world transcended eras. As though stuck in this colourful, bell bottomed, Beatles blaring era, Goodwood Revival celebrates all that was once great. For three whole days, the Duke of Richmond plays host to the most significant historic motor racing event of the year. Last year, being my first as a newly crowned British resident, I roamed the roads of Revival in utter disbelief; it was not just the sheer volume of carbureted motoring icons, but the vastness of spectators dressed as though on a film-set in perfectly curated outfits to cheer on the legends of the sport. This year, things were to be slightly different.
Now, in my second Revival and, sixty years on from 1963, I was invited to attend Goodwood Revival in a celebration of Aston Martin’s largest milestone in the brand's 110-year heritage. To motor-heads, today marks a moment as monumental to music-buffs as the first time Jagger’s hips swayed on stage - 60 years since the release of Aston Martin’s DB5. First revealed in September 1963 at the prestigious Frankfurt Motor Show, the DB5 instantly became a global object of British luxury and desire. With its new 4.0-litre (3,995cc), twin cam, straight six motor, the DB5 was capable of what was at the time, a frightening top speed of 150 mph, making it the fastest 4-seat GT car in the world. This left little surprise when orders rolled in from the most famous men in the world, including Prince Philip, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Mick Jagger (and more recently, the likes of Ralph Lauren and Peter Sellers).
In my own monumental moment, today would be the day where I would fulfil my childhood dream of getting behind the wheel of the first sports car I ever fell in love with. From the first time I watched Sean Connery chase the deeply desirable Honor Blackman along the Furka Pass at an age far too young and curious to any good parents’ knowledge, my fascination with David Brown’s revered design began, leading to an enduring passion that has shaped my appreciation for automotive excellence. Departing from Beaverbrook hotel, I was guided along a series of narrow country roads shared by no more than tractors and sheep. It was here that, with its skinny, six-speed gear stick, that I could truly work it through its distinctively potent 282 bhp. Breaking into bends in second gear and exiting with a shift into third at a bone-rattling 50,000RPM, it takes little longer than the length of a Beatles track to learn that this is a car screaming to be driven, to be driven well, and to be driven far.
As I am led through the gates of Goodwood by Aston Martin’s latest DBX707, I realise that my time behind the hand-made, wooden steering wheel with its perfect patina, has come to an end. It’s impossible not to reflect on the groundwork that this car lay for those that followed. As a leader in the motoring scene that remains as relevant as it is desired sixty years later, the DB5 asserted Aston Martin’s position as a pioneer in performance, dynamics, engineering and technology. A connection that one can’t help but make with Aston Martin’s latest model and the world’s first Super Tourer, the DB12, is whether this model will leave the next generation of Bond loving petrol-heads as enthralled as the DB5 has left me, sixty years from today.