I have owned a couple of Ferraris and a Maserati but never an Aston. The DB7 GT is a gorgeous car and a great performer on paper. Could someone give an idea on reliability. I wold like to drive 7k miles per year. Thank you in advance.
I think the DB7 GT or the DB7 V12 vantage manual is a great choice for you...
The early touchtronic (or automanual) systems on the late 90's-early 00's Astons are quite subpar.
Like Squid mentioned earlier, the 5 speed touchtronic transmission could not handle the engine upgrades for the GT spec car (435bhp V12), so the engine in the GTA remains unchanged from that of the Vantage.
And then, in general, that touchtronic that they used for the V12 DB7 range had one gear less, so given the large power band of the car, the top speed on the touchtronic versions got chopped. Moreover working through 5 gears is not the same as working through 6.
So avoid the automatics. The manual versions of the Vantage can be very rare depending on your location (for instance the US), the DB7 GT is a rare car in general.
So if you have the money, the GT should be your choice, the upgrades distinguishing the GT from the Vantage version may seem little, but they really add up. Peak engine torque/power is far from the major distinguishing features between the performance of the GT and the Vantage Manual coupe.
Otherwise, go for the Vantage manual. The GTA IS like half a base Vantage (due to the tranny) masquerading as a GT - I must also agree with the statement, despite the GTA's rarity.
Also, avoid Volantes. They may be regionally popular as well, but if you are looking for a driver's car, the Volante will not do.
Now, if you treat the car right, it should be quite reliable. With the driving you want to do, you/the servicemen would want to service it annually ( this is actually not a rough estimation) swapping oil and air filters. You will also have a "capital service" every 6 years, where you/servicemen will also switch several pairs of gaskets and spark plugs (in addition to filter swapping).
Even if you are a DIY person, it is always good to do checkups at an Aston center, that way you will ensure what you are doing is good.
Upon purchase of the car, ask to take a look at the service book. If any service stamps are missing, be inquisitive.
The engine is strong. Remember to keep an eye on the oil with the V12 as much as possible. There are/were careless owners who were very disappointed after various degrees of oil-level abuse.