My First Supercar: Aston Martin DB9 – Impressions

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Upon delivery of the DB9, I was still kind of in shock and had a bag of mixed emotions. On one hand I was just so excited and elated that I had in my possession a car that I used to and many others could only dream of. On the other hand, I knew there was still quite a bit of work before I could breathe easy about the soundness of my decision. On top of that, I was concerned that maybe an off day impulse buy would be one that I would want to take back a later day. My test drive probably wasn’t as thorough as it should have been, after all the test drive was the first time I had ever even sat in a supercar, much less drive one. Then the worries about how much these seemingly little minor repairs would cost crept up.

I mentioned before how Ferarri’s and Lamborghini’s have become commonplace in pop culture, and that showed itself when I began to look for a garage that could properly service my Aston. Well, in Houston, there are Ferarri and Lamborghini dealerships who can service your respected car, but for Aston Martins, there are zero. In reality, I have found only 3 reputable garages that can properly service an Aston. Naturally I took the car to Sphere Motorsports close by my work place to have them take a look at it since they were the ones who did the initial inspection so the car should be familiar with them.

And so, as discussed before I bought the car we came up with a list of issues with the car.

– Check engine light: Misfire in Cylinder #6.

– Nav Screen Gears not working (very common problem as gears are made out of plastic).

– Aston Martin Manufacturer update for rubber oil lines to metal tubing.

– Air Conditioner not as cold as it should be.

– TPMS light fault (known common issue with Aston Martins)

First thing is to address is the check engine light. The likely fault is a bad coil pack and spark plug, so cheapest try to fix is to replace the whole set of coilpacks. I could just replace one, but the labor cost of replacing one vs all of them is about the same and I would rather not have to pay that amount again if another one goes out. about $4K and 3 weeks later (parts had to be shipped from England), problem appears to be solved, with instructions to use some fuel additive to clean out the system. Cool, problem solved. Or not? Couple days later check engine light comes back on. Car is running much better than before but the light worries me a bit. Take it back to the shop and the computer returns a general misfire code on startup. I am advised to continue using the fuel additive to really clean out the system. The light doesn’t come back on. Nice. About 5-600 miles later, I decide to stop using the additive. Surely by now all the crud has been flushed out. Nope, light comes back on and returns the same thing. So where I am at now is the car is due for it’s regular 30k mile maintenance. I’m hoping that I’ll take it in, do the regular maintenance and have them completely flush and clean the fuel and intake lines. button up the rest of the issues. This is what happens when you buy a car that’s been sitting in someone’s garage for who knows how long with the same tank of gas in cold climates. In reality, though, there seems to be nothing wrong with the engine after the coilpacks were replaced, so I consider myself very lucky to have dodged a big bullet and avoid a $20k+ repair bill.

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Clear Bras and Paint Protectors – side rant

Whoever decided to just cover the front 18 inches of the car with this clear film needs to be punched in the face. I understand the want to protect your paint from small rocks and debris, but if you’re going to do it, do the whole panel. Having a clear line run across the bonnet and fenders just makes the car look cheap. If you are truly concerned about your paint, just do a wrap on the entire car. This way you can change colours whenever you want all while protecting and maintaining your car’s original paint. A heat gun, some solvent and 2 hours later, clear bra and adhesive is removed. Can still tell where it used to be but only under certain angles of light.

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The Drive

So now how does the Aston drive? I will give you my complete biased opinion of the car. It is without a doubt the most well rounded car I have ever driven. Hands down. And I will argue that it is the most well rounded supercar ever built.

First off, performance. Let’s face it, the reason you buy a supercar is because it goes fast. Performance is a huge part of why you buy one in the first place. Now don’t get me wrong, if you want a car that can top 200mph and perform like a banshee on steroids you’re probably better off looking at a Ferarri, Lamborghini, McLaren or the likes. The Aston just cant match that level of performance, but it ranks pretty high up there. With the stock 2005 model 6.0L V12 pushing out 450hp and a mean 420lb-ft or torque it will do 0-60 in 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 186mph. For a car that weighs almost two tons, that is enough to make your eyes light up. The suspension and ride quality on the Aston is absolutely spot on. I was expecting a super hard ride, one that would send shocks down your spine over every pavement buckle, bump and dip, but I was surprised with just how comfortable the ride is. Built as a GT car, it is designed for long hauls so comfort is a key element in the design. But the way it is able to provide the perfect balance of comfort and performance is just amazing.

Now asthetics, the Aston Martin DB9 Coupe has got it down pat. Number one no exceptions. The bodylines, the subtle curves and flares, the iconic Aston Martin grille, the low and wide stance. Again, it is the perfect balance between the elegance you’d expect from a superluxury car and the aggressiveness of a sports car. I would probably just stare at it all day if I could. And the aesthetics don’t end outside. In the interior, plush headliner and leather dash and upholstery, aluminum center console, wood grain finish. Now I will have two complaints about the interior that bug the crap out of me. Back seats. WHY? Who on earth decided it would be a good idea to put back seats in a DB9. I would argue unless you are a family of midgets, there is absolutely no way you can fit four people in a DB9. Even two small adults and two infants or children would not be able to fit. There is absolutely no reason for the back seats, end of discussion. My second complaint, which annoys me more than the back seats, is the lack of cup holders. Come on. A GT car with no cup holders? I don’t think I need to say much more about the lack of cup holders.

But wait there’s more. The aesthetics don’t end there. The sound and symphony the car makes is unmistakable. Not too loud and overbearing but distinct enough to let people around you know that you’ve got some serious hardware under the bonnet. I used to think the sound of a V8 was where it’s at, but when you hear the 12 cylinders fire up and rev the engine to 6-7000+rpm, it is the most satisfyingly terrifying sound you can produce.

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Versatility. The DB9 is a car that I feel can be used as a daily driver. I mean you spend all this money on a car only to drive it once every now and then? And by daily driver, it’s not just about using it for everyday activities. It is also about the level of comfort that you have when you drive it. Not having to be overly cautious about every bump and dip, or every driveway. Having enough room in the boot for everyday items.

Then, there is the value. For roughly $190k brand new I challenge you to find another car that can come close to doing what the DB9 can do.

So, for under $50k as of now I am convinced that the Aston Martin DB9 was the best purchase I can remember to date. When I talk to other car enthusiasts and tell them, every last one of them agrees it was a hell of a steal. Would I ever sell it? Not in the foreseeable future.

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My First Supercar: Aston Martin DB9 – Selection

I began my hunt for a nice car probably sometime around 2007/2008. At the time I was driving a 2000 Acura Integra with minimal mods; Cold Air Intake, Coilovers, Wheels, Body Kit. At the time I really didn’t know what I wanted. I had considered looking for a cheap older model 240sx or 350z that I could use as a daily and a drift car. Fix it up nice, upgrade and engine swap, and be able to run with some higher end cars for relatively cheap. As my schedule and education career became busier, I found that there really wasn’t enough time for me to commit to building a car and drifting at the time so the idea of a project car went out the door. As I was looking for a replacement for the Integra, I knew I wanted something different, something sporty, something that catches people’s eyes, something moderately practical, something not overly expensive, and something I could really enjoy. Clearly a Ford GT, Ferrari, Lamborghini, or McLaren would be way out of my range, that and I personally am not a huge fan of Ferrari or Lamborghini as I feel they are too common in pop culture and there are too many examples of bad connotations associated with them. Don’t get me wrong, they are magnificent cars, just not my style. I just don’t like BMW’s so that was a no for me as well. Jaguar and Maserati have had reliability issues and honestly, at the time I was looking, the available models didn’t look that great. I also came to realize with my long legs, I don’t fit comfortably in a lot of cars. Strike out the MR2, S2000, and Mini (these dont sound like very impressive cars, but with the proper aftermarket parts and modifications they can perform on the same level as some of the higher end cars).

Eventually, what it came down to was between 3 cars:  Nissan R33/34 GT-R, Acura/Honda NSX, Aston Martin DB9

Nissan GT-R: Ideally a RHD R34. What gear head wouldn’t want one of these? Dubbed the supercar killer, the R34 is one of the most respected and feared sports cars to come out of Japan. Only problem is that importing them as a car is illegal due to safety and emissions standards. The only way to own a street legal R34 is to import the parts, and build it as a ‘kit car’ and then you’d still need to get it inspected and hope that the state allows you to register it. Or try to find one that has already been through all that. Note that R33’s can now be legally imported under the 25 year old antique car exemption.

Acura/Honda NSX: Again, ideally I would have liked the RHD JDM Honda NSX. Same problems as the R34 in terms of importing (early models can now be imported). The NSX just has the profile of a super exotic. Low profile, wide body, lightweight. Designed to mimic the performance of a Ferarri 348. The NSX is a beautiful mid engine car that has the performance to back it up.

Aston Martin DB9: Why not the Vantage or older DB7? The DB7 is a great car, but the styling to me just wasnt aggressive enough for my taste. As far as the Vantage, personally I feel that the V8 Vantage has diluted the market. I understand trying to produce a car that is more affordable to more people, but an 8-cylinder Aston Martin seems out of place. My personal opinion on people who buy a V8 Vantage is a cop out buy to own an Aston. The V12 Vantage S is a relatively newer model and as such it is difficult to find one for sale that meet’s my requirements. Now, the DB9 is arguably one of the most if not the most aesthetically pleasing cars designed for its time. Respectable power, and unlike many other super sports cars was designed as a grand tourer so the ride is not quite as harsh. Also, got to be a coupe for me. The Volante looks amazing with the top down, but the canvas top just doesn’t make the car look right when it’s up.

 

In the end, realistically, it came down to either an Acura NSX, or ASton Martin DB9. Every now and then I’d check to see if someone was letting their R34 GTR go for a reasonable price. Around 2009/2010, during the recession, there were several listings for good condition NSXs in the $20-30k range. and a couple DB9’s going for the low $40k, upper $30k range. Had I not been inundated with the responsibilities of school and lack of an actual income, I would have been all over them. Fast forward to 2015 with checking prices on a fairly regular basis, I felt sick that every time I would check, the average prices of the cars would increase. A good NSX now will set you back at least $50-60k. A good low mileage DB9 will set you back around $60-70k.

And then it appeared. 2005 Aston Martin with 27k miles for under $50k. Something like that seemed too good to be true. And really in all honesty at the time it was. 3 previous owners from New Jersey, Minnesota, and Texas. Carfax report had minor accident, rear bumper and trunk damage which had been since repaired. Check engine light on for misfire in cylinder #6, unknown cause. The accident damage was repaired by a certified shop so that wasn’t a huge concern for me. Being from the northern part of the country, I was more concerned about rust damage from road salt than damage from a fender bender. Oh and that cylinder issue as well. So I call the dealership to get more information on the car and he just gives it to me straight. I wish all used car salesmen were like this one. Tells me everything that’s wrong with it over the phone. Previous owner traded it in for a Porsche 911 so really they’ve already made their money on that sale. Gives me the information on an independent shop that inspected the vehicle and the shop tells me the exact same things. Go to the dealership the following week to look at the car and then they tell me instead of them fixing the check engine light that they were going to sell the car as is but knock off a couple grand for the cost of fixing it. At this point, it’s a pretty large gamble. Test drive didnt seem too bad. Misfire was a bit more noticeable in the lower rpm but overall the ride was smooth. Most of the electronics worked as they are supposed to. Managed to negotiate it down to below $40k, but realistically I’m looking at at least $43k with the estimated repairs. And that figure could quickly balloon up to $60k or $70k if it turns out to be a major problem like a cracked cylinder or piston. Looking at what Astons of similar mileage and condition are going for, $60-70k is about average, but not what I wanted to pay. So after much deliberation, couple free shirts and a several bottles of water later I’m holding the keys (or key rather) to an Aston Martin DB9.

My First Supercar: A Perspective of an Experience

A couple months ago, I decided to make an ‘impulse’ buy and purchased what has to be one of the most satisfying purchases I have made recently, an Aston Martin DB9. Some may call it a quarter life crisis or reckless spending and that may be true to a certain extent, but if done properly, it may not be as bad as some might make it out as. Regardless of whether or not it was indeed a ‘sound’ decision or not, I thought I’d share some takeaway points. A sort of loose guide on how to buy an ‘affordable’ supercar.

First off, let me start by saying that most cars are nothing more than a money sink. Unless you collect or flip vehicles, do not buy a car thinking that you can get any decent return on it. That being said, you will want to find a used or pre-owned car preferably towards the bottom end of it’s depreciation curve; this will vary from car to car.

So from the beginning. First off you need to determine exactly what car you want. This means make and model. On top of that you should have an idea of the specifics as well; year, body style, powerplant. Some people may recommend picking out a colour also, but realistically you can get a decent wrap to change the colour for a relatively low cost. Most importantly other than make and model will be the powerplant. Some cars have V8, V10, V12 variants and the last ting you want to do is get a car wishing it had a bit more oomph. Also the prices will vary greatly between different engines. Once you have those in your mind, then you can start looking. For those who know me well, this is where I would go off bashing certain models and give my two cents on why you should avoid certain cars. Some of the points are just plain facts and some are just opinions. Honestly though, buying a supercar is 100% personal preference. In fact, selection of any car is purely personal preference. There are only a handful of cars which are just completely unacceptable to even consider getting. But, if you’re going to drop $60k+ on a car that you want and you’re sure that you want it, no one else’s opinion should matter.

Do your research beforehand. Before you even start looking at listings, you should know the ins and outs of the car you want. This includes major maintenance issues, common problems, popular aftermarket parts and upgrades, owner reviews, how it compares to similar cars. Then once you start looking at available listings, make note of what the average prices are for the specific car in mind. This is where knowing exactly what you want plays a huge part.

A couple examples:

-A 2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage might run around $90k while a 2011 V8 Vantage will only run in the $70k range

-A 2011 Audi R8 V10 will run around $120k while the V8 model will only set you back around $95k

The analogy of comparing apples to oranges doesn’t quite work here but it’s more of the comparing green bell peppers to red bell peppers. Once you know for certain you’ve chosen a car you want, don’t look at anything else.

Now determining exactly how much you want to spend on a car is purely personal preference. Obviously the more you are willing to pay, the easier and faster you will find a car that suits you.

Timing is huge with high end luxury/sports cars. There are the normal cycles of when people will sell their cars or trade them in for newer models, but I have noticed more so that the availability of supercars can also be dependent on market trends. This only makes sense. As the market drops, those who have just been able to afford such vehicles are more likely to let them go for something a bit more economical. Back in 2008/2009 it was not uncommon for a low mileage Lamborghini or Ferrari to drop below 100k. Low mileage, fair condition Astons and NSX’s were listed for 40k’s and 30k’s respectively. Once you’ve figured out the trends for pricing on the car you want and picked a price you feel comfortable with, all you can do is just wait. Now your price is going to have to be realistic. Hoping that you can find a Ferrari 458 Italia for under $100k is just foolish. Also to note, Kelley Blue Book Value means almost nothing for these cars. Don’t use it as a guide to setting your price. For me, it took about 6 years of researching and searching to find what I wanted.

So now that you’ve found the car you want at the price you’re comfortable with, the same things apply from buying any used car. Maintenance record, vehicle history, driving history, mileage history, etc. Chances are, if you find one that seems too good to be true, it likely is, and you’ll want to dig more to find out. Always test drive. No matter what. And, when you test drive, drive it hard. Red line the sucker, rev the engine. Put it through it’s paces. If it’s your first time driving a supercar, you’ll want to ease into it until you’re comfortable with the acceleration, cornering and braking. This isn’t your every day sedan where if something goes wrong, it might just be a couple hundred dollar fix. Repairs can and likely will run into the tens of thousands for anything that needs even minor to moderate repairs. Driving and mileage history I found the hard way can have a big impact on what to expect. Low mileage is great and all, but if a car sits around too long and especially in colder climates, the fuel system can start to have problems when the gas goes bad. More than likely, these cars will have been weekend cars, or drive it once or twice a month cars.

With the right research and patience, something that seems reserved for the elite can actually be fairly obtainable without too much damage. Keep in mind that buying the car is half the process. Maintenance, insurance and gas are costs that you’ll have to be willing to pay. Keep in mind, your average corner store gas station likely isn’t even going to touch your car, let alone do regular maintenance on it. A single oil change alone, depending on make and model, can run anywhere from a couple hundred to more than a thousand dollars, and unless you work with cars regularly I would not recommend you trying to do it by yourself. Gas is going to be premium gas and look to get around 10mpg or less for higher end models. Certain cars can squeeze out 15mpg, but if you do, you’re not really enjoying the car.

I won’t go over the formalities of actually getting the car since that should be fairly straightforward. Once you do get control of the car and take it home. Just take a moment to enjoy it. You will turn heads and attract attention, some cars more than others. You will have people pulling up beside you in civics or other pedestrian vehicles and rev their engines at you or try to race you. I don’t condone street racing, but be responsible; high profile cars are easy targets.