What is a bargain? Well, it’s all relative. According to the Collins dictionary, “Something that is a bargain is good value for money, usually because it has been sold at a lower price than normal.” With just 26,969 miles on the clock, this breathtakingly beautiful 2009 Aston Martin DB9 up for auction on Bring A Trailer could be a relatively inexpensive way of joining the V12 manual club, but V12 and manual is just one way of skinning a grand tourer. The Lexus LC 500 is wonderful, one of the best V8 GT cars ever made, and past manual DB9 results could send this DB9’s price on a collision course with Lexus’ flagship. This could get interesting.
It should go without saying that the Aston Martin DB9 is the platonic ideal V12 grand tourer. Big 5.9-liter engine up front, drive to the back, a forest on the dashboard, a herd’s worth of leather, suspension supple enough to sand down the road’s rough edges, and drop-dead gorgeous looks. I love the DB9, and so does just about everyone else. Even with the cringe-inducing Bond-obsessed hardcore fanbase, Aston Martins of this era just don’t feel as trashy as similarly-aged Lamborghinis and Ferraris. The DB9 doesn’t know what a Bitcoin is, has never sat parked outside of a crossfit class, and is blissfully unaware of TikTok. It’s a proper, distinguished GT car that doesn’t fall into the frumpiness trap.
Driving a DB9, you get a sense that the engineers simply hadn’t heard of Nürburgring lap times, instead focusing on how to get from Gaydon to Loch Ness as quickly, confidently, and comfortably as possible. The steering is cleaver-sharp and astonishingly accurate for a car of this age and genre, the suspension tuning feels as right as an Eames chair, and the V12 under the hood is aurally intoxicating yet never brash. Even the six-speed ZF automatic transaxle found in most examples holds up remarkably well. However, this Aston Martin DB9 doesn’t just have two pedals.
Between the front seats of this Aston Martin DB9 sits a conventional shifter with six forward ratios to choose from. In 2009, some bold soul decided to skip newfangled automation and ended up scoring one incredibly rare coupe. Just 385 manual DB9 coupes were ever made, making this variant rarer than the Ferrari Enzo and Porsche 918 Spyder. To the brave few with the outstanding taste to order these cars new, we salute you.
Some commenters on Bring A Trailer are taking issue with the minor cosmetic imperfection of lifting dashboard leather, but that affects basically every Aston of this vintage and is a trivial manner to stretch out and glue back down. If anything’s working against this Aston Martin DB9, I reckon it’s the all-black-everything spec. Sure, black paint and a black interior is unassuming, but it certainly isn’t the first choice for highlighting how stunning this car is. Still, anything with a V12 and a manual transmission is tantalizingly rare, and I wouldn’t be surprised if bids climb well beyond the current high bid of $58,000. If things really pop off, bidding could put this 14-year-old DB9 up against the latest and greatest in V8 GT cars: The 2024 Lexus LC 500, now with a touchscreen instead of a stupid trackpad.
The LC 500 gets all the GT car hallmarks right. It’s absolutely beautiful, feels preposterously expensive and well-made, emits a brilliant noise, and is all-day comfortable. It’s also properly expensive when you load it up — with the dynamic handling package, the all weather package, the heads up display, the Mark Levinson sound system, and the new-for-’24 multispoke wheels, this big coupe annihilates checkbooks with a price tag of $111,210 including a $1,325 freight charge. However, manual DB9s have hammered for wild money before, with this Volante fetching $85,000 despite having a hit on its CarFax. That may still be $14,550 more than a base LC 500, but given historically lower interest rates on new cars and the presence of a factory warranty, I could see the justification to go new.
With a new LC 500, you don’t have to worry about history, and you don’t have to worry about servicing costs either because it’s a Lexus. The five-liter 2UR-GSE V8 is a proven, reliable performer, and Lexus vehicles aren’t known for being electrical nightmares. Chances are, 200,000 miles from now, an LC 500 will still feel great and cost pennies to maintain.
With the auction for this Aston Martin DB9 closing later today, we’ll have to wait and see if this six-speed coupe closes the gap with today’s greatest entry-level GT car. Granted, even if things inch towards six-figure territory, this DB9 will still be a bargain by V12 manual standards. After all, how many cheaper cars pair twelve pumping pistons with three pedals? There’s the BMW 8 Series, the Aston Martin DB7 GT, and that’s about it. However, the warranty and servicing network of the Lexus LC 500 is a massive benefit for GT buyers who actually want to grand tour. So, what’s your money on?
(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer, Lexus)
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