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What makes a perfect exotic car? Power, luxurious build quality, and brand reputation. Aston Martins have oodles of all three. Used Aston Martin DB9s (2004-2016) have something else: a compelling configuration and affordable entry price. If you need a budget-friendly option, you can snag a V8-powered Vantage from the same generation for under $40k! Here are the details on why a used Aston Martin might be the perfect used exotic car for you.

The Aston Martin allure

A black Aston Martin DB9 car in a parking lot.
2004 Aston Martin DB9 | Antony Dickson/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

How do you define the coolness factor of an exotic car? You could analyze the age of the marque, its racing pedigree, or whether low-dollar offerings have blemished the brand. But the truly important question is whether mere peasants will look at your ride and say, “Yup, that’s an exotic!”

If you park a DB9 next to a comparable Jaguar grand tourer, it’s the Aston Martin that will draw a crowd. The elegant Aston Martin DB9 even looks at home amongst brand new Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

Why? Well, the Aston Martin DB9 has that little “V12” badge–nearly a requirement for entry into the supercar club. Its exterior design is widely celebrated as one of its generation’s most beautiful–and most timeless. Finally, its fit and finish are world-class.

Aston Martin endowed the vehicle with exquisite details such as doors that swing up, away from the curb, and a crystal key that slots into the dashboard. Top Gear’s Richard Hammond concluded that its interior is “one of the best known to man.” But this car is also desirable because it holds a place in history.

Today, the prestige around Aston Martin is growing thanks to its renewed presence in Formula 1 (2021-present). The 2005-2018 generation of Aston Martin Grand Tourers is seared into the public consciousness as the James Bond car of the Daniel Craig era thanks to the DBS’ starring role in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. The DBS is the sport-tuned DB9. But with only 984 DBS cars built for the U.S., they can command $150,000 price tags.

There is nothing wrong with a DBS, but you have some other compelling options at that price point. Few used supercars can touch with the grand-touring-oriented DB9 at its $70k price range. And at $50k or less, the sportier Vantage V8 is impossible to ignore.

How does the Aston Martin DB9 hold up?

A mechanic leans over the hood of a used Aston Martin DB9 supercar, a crowded auto shop visible in the background.
Aston Martin DB9 | Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr./Bloomberg

The Aston Martin DB9 debuted in 2005. In the past two decades, exotic car technology has leaped forward. Advances include quicker-shifting automatic transmissions, more efficient engines, adaptive suspension, and better tires.

So what makes the Aston Martin DB9 such an excellent exotic car by modern standards? Three words: manual transmission option. While other 20-year-old exotic cars with shiftable automatics feel outdated, a three-pedal DB9 with a modern clutch upgrade still feels crisp. Stickshift wasn’t the most popular configuration, but used manual transmission Aston Martins are still more plentiful than other three-pedal exotic cars of the era, such as Lamborghini Gallardo. Moreover, V8 Vantages with manual transmissions are much more common.

The Aston Martin DB9/V8 Vantage always had two significant shortcomings. The first is its infotainment system. The Volvo-derived system featured a cool flip-up screen. But its software was outdated from the jump. If you bought a used early DB9 today, you might go through the trouble of installing an Apple Carplay-enabled head unit. Or you might just keep the screen stowed and use your phone instead.

The second shortcoming of a used Aston Martin DB9 was its handling. It corners better than your average sports sedan. But its aluminum construction and long wheelbase leave it a bit “wobbly” compared to the Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG (again, according to Richard Hammond). This V12 car was always more about straight-line power. The manual transmission version can reach 60 mph in a respectable 4.5 seconds.

If you want to max out the stock handling of a used Aston Martin DB9, consider upgrading to modern tires such as the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. You may also be able modify an early DB9 by dropping its suspension to the same height as a later DB9 with the sports package. But the easiest solution is simply seeking out a used DB9 with the aforementioned sports package, which lowers and stiffens the car without sacrificing ride quality. Finally, a Vantage will offer better weight distribution, at the cost of long-distance comfort and a backseat.

Is a used Aston Martin DB9 a smart buy?

A lineup of supercars including an Aston Martin DB9 parked by a race track.
Aston Martin DB9 and other Supercars | Eliot J. Schechter/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As an investment, a used Aston Martin DB9 may be a brilliant buy. They often sell for less than $70k. These grand tourers are likely nearing peak depreciation. As the last naturally-aspirated V12 grand tourer with a manual transmission, they will likely skyrocket in value.

What if you want to drive your Aston Martin DB9 often? Will maintenance be expensive? Used 2005 Aston Martin DB9 owner Steve McEvoy–of Aston1936.com–added up his total cost of ownership after his first three years and 13k miles. Immediately after buying his DB9, he sent it away to address two common oil leaks. Including this high-dollar maintenance, he claims he spent $0.68 per mile or $7.50 per day. He adds that his insurance, fuel, and purchase taxes cost $12.43 daily or $1.12 per mile.

McEvoy admits that rumors of disastrous DB9 engine failures exist. But as a longtime member of the Aston Martin Owners’ Club, he feels these are mostly just rumors. An Aston Martin DB9 might not be the world’s most logical vehicle, but McEvoy concludes it is far from a foolish purchase. And if these cars appreciate, the value of your vehicle may offset the cost of owning and driving it.

Next, find out 007 things you didn’t know about David Brown, namesake of the Aston Martin DB, or see how expensive it is to own a DB9 in the video below: