Mar 31 2021

DBS 6 Upgrades You Should Consider

DBS 6 Upgrades Worth Considering

The Aston Martin DBS is a modern classic. It’s also something of an accidental Aston as it was never intended to be released with the 4L straight-six engine. But circumstances dictated it was released, and the DBS 6 cylinder is now a very usable and collectable classic.

Because we’ve currently got a DBS 6 cylinder restoration project available for sale, we thought it would be a good idea to put together our favourite DBS 6 cylinder upgrades and improvements.

Does It Need Improving?

The short answer to this question is, it depends. If you want a car for showing and 100% originality is important, then maybe improvements are not required. If you’re going to use your classic DBS, then our suggested upgrades are worth considering.

The thing about the DBS is although it’s now very much a classic Aston Martin, it’s a very usable classic, especially with our suggested subtle upgrades. So let’s start by making the cabin a nicer place to be, especially if you’re taking your car abroad.

DBS green K2 2

Cool, Calm And Collected

We’ve seen and worked on lots of DBS’s, and none of them came to us with air conditioning that worked. Sometimes the pump was still there, sometimes not, but it never worked, and who doesn’t want air-con!

Modern a/c equipment is lightweight and, importantly, reliable. For that reason, we think air conditioning is an upgrade every DBS owner should consider. If you’re working on a DBS restoration, this has to be on your list of desirable improvements.

An Automatic Choice

The DBS came with either a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic or ZF 5-speed manual gearbox. We’re going to stick out necks where the original automatic box is concerned and say it’s not great so we're adding a gearbox enhancement to our list of upgrades worth considering.

If your car’s got the automatic box and you prefer automatic to manual, there are some 4-speed modern gearbox options. These improve performance without compromising on looks or forcing you to change gear.

Converting automatic cars to manual is the other option. Ideally, we’d use an original 5-speed ZF box for this, but they’re hard to find. Again, there are some options, and in our view, a DBS is at its best with a manual gearbox.

Feeling The Heat?

Unlike its older relations, the DB5 and DB6, the DBS isn’t prone to overheating. There’s more room under the bonnet, and the radiator is bigger. But that doesn’t mean a modern aluminium radiator and electric fan isn’t a worthwhile upgrade.

DBS6 Upgrades

If you’re planning on using your DBS in a hot climate, giving the 4L straight-six engine some improved cooling brings peace of mind. Like our next suggestion, this one’s not crucial, but it’s something we think makes sense.

Hold Your Horses

We do a fantastic and very much needed brake upgrade kit for the Aston Martin V8. This upgrade can be adapted for the DBS, but it’s probably overkill. Why the doubt? We’ll explain with a real-world example.

v8 brake kit

A few years ago, Tim was touring on the continent in his DBS 6-cylinder. His was with a group that was a mix of modern Astons and classics, including a Vanquish. The combination of mountain roads and spirited driving pushed the DBS’s brakes to their limit, at times leaving him with less braking than he would have liked.

Obviously, this is an extreme example, but the lack of vented discs and extreme roads certainly left the DBS challenged. Some improvements can be made if you intend to push your DBS in harsh conditions.

To Boldly Go

A DBS is a decent handling car, and it pretty much goes where you point it. They came as standard with power steering, but it’s a hydraulic unit that’s heavy and prone to leaking.

We’ve fitted an electric power steering system to lots of DBS’s, and DB5’s and DB6’s for that matter, and they are superb. It’s a lovely and discreet upgrade and, should it ever be an issue, easily reversible.

Of course, opting for this upgrade also means no more power steering oil leaks.

The Suspense Is Killing Me

Originally the DBS came with lever arm rear suspension. This type of suspension was first introduced in the 1930s and was popular right up to the 1950s and 1960s. By the time the DBS was released, telescopic suspension units were becoming the norm, but the DBS retained lever arm units.

The later V8, a similar car to the DBS, has telescopic rear suspension units, and we think it’s a worthwhile upgrade for DBS’s. The telescopic units are slightly lighter than the lever arm kit, but the main benefit of making this upgrade is the handling, which is very much improved.

Is There Anybody Out There?

Modern cars have fantastic headlights; some even have intelligent systems that shine round corners – sort of. Cars from the 60s and 70s tend to have poor headlights that can really spoil a drive.

DBS6 headlights

For this reason, we think upgrading your DBS’s headlights with modern, bright and effective lights makes a lot of sense. Obviously, this upgrade is hidden, we wouldn’t dream of changing the DBS’s gorgeous twin headlights, but the effect will transform night driving.

Then there are the dashboard lights.

We think there’s something evocative about car dashboard lights. Maybe it’s that Meatloaf song, perhaps it’s just the way they provide a reassuring glow in the darkness on those long nighttime drives. But the original DBS dashboard lights are not great, and over time they become ineffective.

DBS6 Dashboard

Replacing the originals with LED equivalents will make your DBS dashboard a thing of beauty once again, and this simple, low-cost upgrade is our final DBS tweak.

Originality v Practicality

Hopefully, this post will give you some food for thought if you’re restoring or upgrading a DBS. We think all our suggestions provide a good balance between keeping your car original and making it more reliable and enjoyable to own. If you have any questions, please just drop us a line or give us a call.

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