Friday August 31, 2018
Sir Christopher Lee and the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. Yes, the great Gentleman of Horror was Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, and he was considered to play the eponymous Dr. No, but he has not an apparent connection with Goldfinger.
However, his appearance as Dracula in the 1958 Hammer classic may be equated with the Aston Martin DB5 in the third 007 film – both had far more limited screen time than is often remembered, but they created cinematic history.
All these filmic memories have, as you have doubtless guessed, been prompted by the news that Newport Pagnell is to build 25 "continuation editions" of the Goldfinger DB5. The company’s media department states that the cars are to include ‘working gadgets to be developed by Oscar®-winner Chris Corbould OBE, special effects supervisor on eight previous James Bond films, working with the SFX department on a total of fourteen 007 adventures’.
Furthermore, they will ‘be authentic reproductions of the DB5 seen on screen, with some sympathetic modifications to ensure the highest levels of build quality and reliability’. There will also be ‘functioning gadgets such as revolving number plates and more’ and as for the colour finish – Silver Birch of course. As for the asking price – ‘Each Goldfinger DB5 continuation car will be priced at £2.75m plus taxes’. Whatever would M say?
It was the Aston Martin DB5 that was instrumental in creating the Goldfinger mystique, for this was the Bond film that marked the definite point where the films parted company from the books - although the excellent OHMSS marked a temporary return to the Ian Fleming ethos in 1969.
Dr. No. (whisper it) was not an especially high budget adventure film where the Ken Adams sets helped to distract from the many continuity errors and the audible over-dubbing of many of the support cast members. It also featured a car chase starring a Sunbeam Alpine II rented for 15/- per day and in which Jamaican locations very visibly blended with Pinewood back-projection.
From Russia with Love was an excellent adaptation of the novel, down to the 1935 Bentley 3½ Litre Drophead Coupé with Park Ward coachwork and Robert Shaw as one of the most horribly plausible villains of any Bond adventure.
But Goldfinger took a more deliberate tongue-in-cheek approach and although it features any number of fine cars – a (pre-production) Ford Mustang, a Lincoln Continental and that Barker-bodied Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca de Ville – it is the Aston Martin that inevitably dominates the picture. From the moment when Desmond Llewellyn uttered the immortal yet innocuous-sounding phrase ‘now pay attention please’ the Bond films would never be the same:
Mr. Andy Palmer, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Aston Martin, has said that ‘To own an Aston Martin has long been an aspiration for James Bond fans, but to own a Silver Birch DB5, complete with gadgets and built to the highest standards in the very same factory as the original James Bond cars? Well, that is surely the ultimate collectors’ fantasy’.
For many it really is (although my film related motoring fantasy is owning the Wolseley 6/99, registration 716 TPD, from The Fast Lady) – and for those whose overdraft does not quite run to £2.75m (plus tax), the Corgi die-cast model is rather more affordable while still managing to capture the ethos of the film…