Aston Martin DB9s are absolutely gorgeous, plus there’s a great big continent-crushing 5.9-litre V12 engine under that huge bonnet. So the prospect of a cheap used one is rather tempting, especially when considering that the DB9 has just gone out of production, so a good one could make a solid investment car.
Except that there is no such thing as a cheap Aston, just a troublesome one. All the basic rules of buying an expensive, complicated car apply to this 2+2 sports car, in gold-plated spades. In short, it must have a proper history and be clean and tidy with no outstanding issues. Beware ex-hire examples that have been run ragged.
A decent used DB9 has to be the right specification, too. The vast majority of cars are equipped with Touchtronic 2, which is the ZF-sourced six-speed automatic transmission. That is easy to live with, but sort out a simpler, rare six-speed manual for the long term and you have a model that is only going up in value, especially if you can pair that with the ultra-firm Sport Pack.
The Sport Pack was offered as a factory-fitted option from the middle of 2006 and combined revised suspension characteristics with a new alloy wheel design. The springs and front anti-roll bar were modified and the ride height lowered to appeal to the more enthusiastic driver.
From the moment the fixed-head DB9 went on sale in the spring of 2004, customers were able to order what they wanted. Some choices will make an Aston cheaper, but if you are thinking of having a resaleable car in a few years’ time, it needs to be conventional.
So stick to blue/cream, silver/black, black/grey, black/black, green/black colour combinations rather than the powder blues, yellows and reds enjoyed by the blingtastic customers.
Your starting price is just over £32k for immaculate private cars. That will bag you a 2005 example with a solid 60k mileage and it will be an automatic. The drop-top DB9 Volante first arrived six months after its coupé sibling, in the autumn of 2004. One in private hands will start at around £40k. Open and closed cars were sold in fairly even numbers, so both should be readily available.
DB9s with lower miles and from independent dealers are around £40k. In this price bracket are Aston-approved 2005-model-year cars that are going to give you the most peace of mind. Raise your budget to nearer £55k and you will get much-improved 2009-model-year DB9s.
The tweaks for the 2009 car included engine revisions that took maximum power to 470bhp and peak torque to 442lb ft, a faster-shifting automatic transmission and improvements to the chassis that gave greater dynamic ability in the fixed-head car and improved refinement in the Volante.
Another significant round of improvements for the 2011 model year ushered in a cosmetic facelift and replaced the passive dampers with a new adaptive system, and a 2013 upgrade heralded the introduction of the new-generation AM11 V12 engine, which produced 510bhp and 457lb ft.Special editions have names such as Carbon Black, Morning Frost and Quantum Silver.
All of them came in 2011 and they almost feel like run-out editions. The LE Sport from 2012 is probably the one worth finding and keeping, although you will pay upwards of £95k for it.
How to spot the good buys from the goodbyes
Bodywork - The panels are bonded and very difficult to repair. Only a handful of approved bodyshops can fix a DB9 properly. Otherwise, look at the edges of panels - usually the wheel arches, doors and bonnet - for signs that water has reacted with the aluminium and bubbled up.
Suspension - There was an official recall to deal with subframe mounting bushes and the anti-roll bar bushes. Not all DB9s have had this work done, for various reasons, and you may hear a rattle from the front end which suggests that the bushes need replacing.
Warning lights - If lit, check with an Aston fault reader. The emission light means lots of emergency starts by previous drivers, leading to the sensor registering a very rich mixture. It will need to be reset. This is vital since it gives all recall and service information.
Seatbacks/interior - Through lack of use, the seatbacks can get stuck in the forward position. Usually, just moving the seat forward frees it up. The interior is very well built, with only scuffs on the door plates and slightly more wear on the leather seat bolsters with a hard-used ex-hire DB9.
Brakes - These are high-wear items and cost a lot to sort out, but don’t confuse grooves (which are normal) with severe wear. Some owners forget that the flappy handbrake is actually applied and drive around with it on, leading to premature bad wear, which costs £200 to fix.
Tyres/alloy wheels - Tyres are very hard-wear items and always worth checking, because a full set will cost a four-figure sum. It is the rears, of course, that go first. Kerbing is very common, especially on higher-mile ex-hire cars, and it’s at least £100 a wheel to refurbish them.
Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: