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- October 22 2015 Aston Martin & James Bond - The Perfect Marriage
Aston Martin & James Bond – The Perfect Marriage
Is there a car marque that is as quintessentially British as Aston Martin? To coincide with the launch of the 24th James Bond film ‘Spectre’, we thought we’d take a look at the history of Aston Martin and how the brand has become synonymous with the c007est secret agent of all time.
Photograph © GmanViz
The History of Aston Martin
Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin founded the semi-eponymous company in London in 1913 as Bamford & Martin Ltd ostensibly to sell and service cars made by Singer, GWK and Calthorpe. A year later, Martin made a successful run at the Aston hill climb in Buckinghamshire and the maker of some of the most exquisite cars ever built was with us.
In the very early years, Aston Martin built a number of cars and even competed in the 1922 French Grand Prix but over the next decade and a half, the company was beset by financial turbulence until the outbreak of the Second World War when automobile production ceased in favour of the manufacture of aircraft parts.
In 1947, tractor maker David Brown bought the company for a little over £20,500 (Ferruccio Lamborghini also made tractors) as well as acquiring a business called Lagonda for their 2.6-litre Bentley-designed engine and the Aston Martin we know today was born.
The first of the ‘DB’ models, so named for David Brown – the DB2 – started production the same year. Hot on the heels of the DB2 was the DB2/4 in 1953, the DB2/4 MkII in 1955, the MkIII two years later and the magnificent Carrozzeria Touring-designed, 3.7-litre, 240 bhp DB4 in 1958.
The DB4 went through a number of incarnations including the stunning DB4GT Zagato but then in 1963 Aston Martin launched a car that was so jaw-droppingly beautiful, it stunned the entire automotive world – the DB5.
Designed by legendary Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, the Aston Martin DB5 was a 4.0-litre, DOHC straight-six luxurious grand tourer with 282 bhp, a top speed of 142 mph and a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds. The launch price was £4,175 for the saloon and £4,490 for the convertible and it weighed 1,468kg. It is also the best-selling Corgi model ever.
Photograph © theBOGROLL
We can give you as many numbers as you like but it will never tell the full story.
The DB5 is arguably one of the most beautiful cars ever built and certainly one of the most famous. Notwithstanding its connection with the James Bond franchise, it was the very definition of Sixties British cool and it’s no understatement to say that modern Astons owe their curved lines, sweeping bonnets, discreet badging and side vents, as well as a generous sprinkling of pure style, aura and the desire to own one.
Talking of owning one, one of the original James Bond DB5s sold recently for a cool £2.6m but you can have one – if you can find one – for a far more reasonable price tag of between £80,000 and £400,000…
A year later saw the birth of a relationship that remains an indelible print on popular culture – Aston Martin and James Bond – with Goldfinger the first film to feature an Aston Martin.
Further grand tourers in the shape of the DB6 and the DBS followed, as did more financial woes. The firm was sold in 1972 and again in 1975 and after a successful turn-around strategy supported by the employment of 360 new employees the company produced the V8 Vantage in 1977 and the convertible Volante a year later.
Further corporate buyouts occurred in the 1980s with Ford taking a 75% stake. The Virage range was introduced in 1988 and under the chairmanship of Walter Hayes, a new model was being developed.
The first of the ‘modern’ Astons, the DB7 rolled off the production line in 1993; the V12 Vantage in 1999 and in 2001, the Vanquish. Two years later, the stunning DB9, still one of the most eye-catching cars on the road, was launched to critical acclaim. The launch of the flagship DBS preceded an acquisition led by former BAR F1 supremo David Richards for £475m in 2007.
Photograph © Automotive Rhythms
Most recently, the V12 Vantage, the DBS Volante, the Virage and the four-door Rapide were introduced, each as gorgeous to look at as the next and to compete in the ultra-high end ‘hypercar’ market, Aston launched the One-77.
Limited to a production run of just 77 cars and costing a cool £1,150,000, the One-77 had the most powerful naturally-aspirated production engine in the world. Coupled with a full carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, a hand-built aluminium body and carbon ceramic brakes, it has a 7.3-litre, V12 engine producing 750bhp and a top speed of 220 mph with a 0-60 time of around 3.5 seconds.
The ethos of Aston Martin is based around ‘exquisite form and advanced function’ and it’s hard to argue. Every Aston Martin, from the early classics to the modern-day supercars makes you stop and stare; exactly what they are designed to do.
Aston Martin and James Bond – A Marriage Made In Heaven
Aston Martins didn’t appear until the third Bond film, Goldfinger, but when it did, it ushered in a fifty-year marriage that shows no sign of decline.
Photograph © Valvebounce
The original book on which the film is based saw 007 in a DB MkIII but when the film was released in 1964, a decision was taken to use the company’s latest model, a silver-birch DB5.
The same gadget-laden car was used a year later in Thunderball, this time with a rear-mounted water cannon and a jet-pack in the boot but in 1969 for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in George Lazenby’s only outing as Bond, the producers went for a DBS.
An Aston Martin hiatus of 18 years saw Bond in the guise of Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights in a V8 Vantage and in 1995’s Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan was back in the classic DB5. Brosnan became the first Bond to drive two different Aston Martins when he drove a V12 Vanquish in 2002’s Die Another Day.
The current 007, Daniel Craig ushered in the new era of Bond in 2006 in Casino Royale. He drove a DBS, unveiled to the world for that film. The car set a Guinness World Record for the most cannon rolls in a car when stuntman Adam Kirley rolled the car seven times (aided by a nitrogen cannon fitted to the bottom) although as Bond experts will undoubtedly know, the actual car that rolled was a highly modified DB9 because that particular scene was filmed before the DBS was finished!
The DBS reappeared in Quantum of Solace and in Skyfall, a more retrospective Bond film, the DB5 made a welcome return. Now, in Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as 007 in the new film Spectre, he is in a specially-produced new model called the DB10.
Photograph © Automotive Rhythms
Only 10 models will be made, all for the production of the film and although the DB10 is limited to the film, it’s likely that the next generation of road cars will be not too dissimilar…we’ll have to wait and see.
To perfectly illustrate the fifty-year love affair between Aston Martin and James Bond, AM Magazine recently published an interview with Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli…
AM Magazine: How did the relationship between James Bond and Aston Martin begin?
Michael G. Wilson: Ian Fleming originally had Bond in a DB MKIII in Goldfinger and Cubby (Albert Broccoli) and Harry (Saltzman) got an updated version for the film. The DB5, with all its gadgets, became the signature car of Bond. It has become one of the great partnerships in film.
AM Magazine: What do you think makes the pairing such a good fit?
Barbara Broccoli: Bond is British and we want to keep his cars British. Bond and Aston Martin have been synonymous for decades now and we wouldn’t want him to drive anything other than an Aston Martin. When it comes to each new movie, we sit down with the director and we look at what opportunities there are to feature the cars.
AM Magazine: Tell us how the idea to feature the classic DB5 in Skyfall came about?
MGW: The idea arose from discussions with the director, Sam Mendes, and the writers. The film was very much about Bond coming home, being shot on location in London and then Scotland for much of it, so there was a lot of the old and the new and the low-tech and the high-tech. We wanted to go off the grid in some ways and avoid simply using the latest model.
BB: Aston Martin has been a wonderful partner and we have a great relationship. They understood our thinking and agreed it was a great idea. The most important thing is that it was a truly integrated part of the story. The role that the cars play can vary from film to film—sometimes there are big action sequences, such as the famous car-rolling stunt in Casino Royale or the opening chase in Quantum of Solace, and sometimes they are more intimate scenes. Wherever we went in the world and watched Skyfall, there was a cheer when he pulled up the door of the lock-up to reveal the DB5. Everybody has a thrill when they see the DB5. I think it’s like being a boy again. I remember the toy Astons with the rockets and the bullet-shield at the back. It’s all part of the James Bond experience.
AM Magazine: Do you think the love affair between Bond and Aston Martin will continue?
BB: We’re very protective of our relationship with Aston Martin—it’s what the audience wants—so the answer is yes, we certainly hope so!
Amen to that!