After two consecutive columns relating to Le Mans ’66, I really didn’t think I’d be writing about cars in films for a while again. And then the new Bond trailer gets released and I find I’m off again.
James Bond should stop driving the Aston Martin DB5 – Thank Frankel its Friday
I am aware that what I about to say will amount to a form of heresy for very many people, but I hope and believe that the good folk of the GRRC will be able to see through the steam coming out their ears and at least understand what I am saying. Some may even agree. So here goes.
I think James Bond should park the DB5. There, I’ve said it. Yes it’s a beautiful car, but it was never the best Aston Martin and only appeared in Goldfinger because it happened to be the latest and only Aston Martin on sale at the time. Once No Time to Die has been aired, one DB5 or another will have been seen in no fewer than nine Bond films (Goldfinger, Thunderball, Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Casino Royale, Skyfall, Spectre and No Time To Die) and I think the time has come to give it a rest.
So what Aston should 007 drive instead, not including whatever brand new Aston in which he is obliged to be seen? I put the question to those with nothing better to do than follow me on Twitter and was pleased with the characteristically interesting and eclectic response.
There was no majority view, but there was a lot of love out there for the V600 Vantage, the twin supercharged monster that kept a car that started life as the Virage in 1988, into production until the 21st century. And I can see why: the V600 is powerful, brutal, rough, tough and entirely unreconstructed. Far more than the DB5, it really is James Bond in automotive form. He wouldn’t need Gatling guns behind the headlights of this one, because all the bad guys would suffer instant heart failure the moment it hove into view, superchargers wailing over the basso profundo thunder of the V8.
It’s also related to DB5, a fact I think few would know. But if you pulled one apart and looked at its platform, you’d see that in architectural terms it was a distant but direct development of the 1959 DB4 and its Superleggera construction technique.
But unlike Oric Goldfinger who expected Mr Bond to die, I did not expect a tranche of others to suggest 007 should next be seen behind the wheel of an Ulster. I think for many people – perhaps most outside the cognoscenti – Aston Martin probably starts with the DB5. I don’t think thee Feltham cars that preceded it have much visibility at all, let alone the pre-war Bertelli machines. But an Ulster would be great. Just imagine the scene: Bond gets car-jacked in LM18 and bundled into the passenger seat. He wouldn’t even need an ejector: he could just sit there with a thin smile playing on his face as the baddie tried and failed to negotiate his way around the reversed synchro-free gearbox, and then just wait for him to realise the pedals are the wrong way around too and die of the shame of not being able to master it.
A few went for the DB7, but mainly it seems because it was entirely overlooked in period as Bond was having his ill-advised flirtation with BMW at the time.
Perhaps the wackiest and in many ways most enticing suggestion came from a bloke called Iain whose company Muzzoom Models restores old Scalextric cars among other things. His pitch was to put Bond in the Bulldog – which I’m sure you remember – and have him pursued by a bunch of Cybertrucks controlled by a villain called Evil Elon. The story gets quite surreal then, involving the Cotswolds, a Little Chef and a 1980s trifle, but is far more credible than Bond in space (the awful Moonraker), Bond making quiche (the almost entirely unwatchable A View To A Kill) or Bond using a parrot as a plot device (the otherwise perfectly serviceable For Your Eyes Only).
As for me I’ve always said Bond should drive a DB2/4 MkIII, and not just because in the books it was the first Aston he drove. A far more sporting and handbuilt car than a DB5, it’s a better match for 007’s character. But lately I’ve been wondering if a very early ‘washboard’ DB2 might not be better still? When I was young I always thought them quite ugly, but the older I get, the more beautiful they seem to be. And there is something about them that is so pure and raw too. It is the ultimate no nonsense Aston Martin for the ultimate no nonsense secret agent. The next time we see a Bond movie it will be with a new actor in the lead role. Is it took much to hope that he (or she) will be in an extremely old new Aston too? Probably.
LM18 image by Dominic Fraser.
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