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Aston Martin DB5

Published: 4th Jul 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Aston Martin DB5
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Andy Warhol proclaimed that we all get our chance in life and the DB5 found it in Goldfi nger even though it was no stranger to the silver screen. The rest is history… WORDS BY ANDREW ROBERTS IMAGES BY MAGICCARPICS.CO.UK


007 – “Where’s my Bentley?”
Q: “It’s had its day, I’m afraid” Bond: “But it’s never let me down”
Q: “M’s orders, 007. You’ll be using this Aston Martin DB5, with modifications”

Until that particular exchange in Goldfinger the most notable DB4/5 moment in British cinema was a scene when an Aston Martin DB4 flew over a humpback bridge at approx 140mph to be greeted by a very dapper Peter Sellers with a bored “Nah, scrub it. Wrong van”. The film was the utterly brilliant 1962 crime comedy The Wrong Arm of the Law and three DB4s were used as the transport of ‘Pearly’ Gates, the King of London’s Underworld, one for the humpback bridge stunt – apparently Sellers had to be prevented from undertaking the driving himself – and two GTs, one of which was the star’s own transport.

The GT was launched at the 1959 Motor Show and could be identifi ed from the ‘standard’ model via its faired headlamps, larger bonnet air vent, frameless door windows and a 5-inch shorter wheelbase. And, as seen in The Wrong Arm of the Law, it was also quite capable of out-running a police Wolseley 6/90. DB4s also had cameo roles in the obscure 1962 horror film The Brain and the 1960 comedy Doctor in Love; the producer of the latter, Betty Box, was an exceptionally keen motorist.

The DB4 was replaced by the DB5 in 1963 and one of its early screen appearances was in the drama/soap opera The Young Racers. Readers with very long memories may also recall the 1963 ITC series The Sentimental Agent, now best remembered for its groovy theme tune Sucu-Sucu and, in one episode marked the television debuts of an ingénue named Diana Rigg and a tall young Canadian named Donald Sutherland. At its best the series was highly engaging, with the German- Argentine actor Carlos Thompson as a debonair export agent in London docks with a Chinese assistant (inevitably played by Burt Kwouk) and an Aston Martin DB5.

Naturally, the show has all of the standard ITC tropes such as Patrick Troughton playing an implausible ‘Arab Chiefs with the aid of a glue-on beard and automotive incongruities: the show uses interior shots of a Rover 3 Litre Coupé for some DB5’s driving scenes.

But it was thanks to ITC that the Aston Martin DB5 was associated with Roger Moore several months before the British premiere of Goldfinger. In The Saint episode, The Noble Sportsman, guest villain Anthony Quayle drove a prototype DB5 – originally a Series V DB4, registration number BMT 216A. Although viewers were deprived of the chance to see its Dubonnet Red coachwork (The Saint would not be shot in colour until 1966) it was a memorable television debut for the DB5.

As for future film work, BMT 216A was booked for a certain job in Pinewood Studios in January of 1964.

Prior to Gold finger, 007 films had never really been associated with world class cinematic car chases. In Dr. No, a picture of quite limited budget (the ‘wood panelling’ in M’s office is clearly wallpaper) Bond drives a Series II Sunbeam Alpine hired for 15/- per day and battles Pinewood’s fi nest back projection and although From Russia With Love contains splendid cars aplenty, from a Citroën 11 BL to a Park Ward bodied Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith there are no major pursuit sequences per se. It’s also arguably the closest the film series came to the ethos of the books but from the moment that Bond hurls an electric fi re in a bath containing a villainous thug with the epithet “shocking” it is clear that the screen version of Goldfinger will create its own sense of style.

In the 1959 novel Fleming had already replaced the Bond Bentley thanks in part to a letter from a reader apparently requesting that the author “have the decency to fi t Bond up with a proper bit of machinery. The DB3 coupé is capable of a fair rate of knots and presumably could be fixed up for a bit of highpowered snogging”.

That correspondent had rather brilliantly anticipated the plot line of most 1970’s 007 films but in the event Eon Productions’ co-founder Cubby Broccoli approached Jaguar for three E-types. Browns Lane had evidently not learned from their lost PR opportunity with The Saint in 1962 and so Eon next approached Aston Martin. Legend has it that early negotiations did not go at all well – the chap at Newport Pagnell had seen neither Dr. No or From Russia with Love and merely offered to sell the fi lm company a DB5 at cost price.

This was not within Eon’s budget but eventually, after further negotiations, Aston Martin, loaned the company a standard DB5, known as “The Road Car” (chassis DB5/1486/R), which was used for the driving and high speed chase sequences, whilst BMT 216 A “The Gadget Car” (chassis DP/2161/1) was used for the stunt and effects sequences, both being now finished in Silver Birch.

The use of the Road Car, registration number FMP 7B, was due to the fact that Eon producer Harry Saltzman expressed understandable concern about potential damage to the vastly expensive ‘Gadget Car’, which was also regarded as far too heavy for elaborate stunt work.

In the event the Road Car’s ZF gearbox failed during filming in Switzerland, which meant it was actually the precious Gadget car, driven with considerable verve by stunt driver Bill Baskerville, that we see chasing Tilly Masterson’s Ford Mustang through the Alps; it is oft forgotten that Goldfinger is the first major film to feature the original Ford pony car.

It is also little remembered that the Bond DB5 is on screen for less than 15 minutes but this was enough to establish Aston Martin as a marque suited for a new breed of 1960’s uber-cads. Popular memory often positions the James Bond as a Swinging London icon but this is completely false: “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”

In short, 007 is a traditionalist who grumbles about popular beat combos and who would have almost certainly regarded the E-type as transport best suited for property developers and other counter-jumpers.

Naturally, there were the aforementioned gadgets. In the book Bond’s Aston Martin was fi tted with a hidden gun compartment and reinforced steel bumpers but master of the special effects John Stears created the Bond car that drove thousands of schoolboys across the land to save their pocket money for the die-cast Corgi model. Stears had already designed the remote-controlled helicopter and Rosa Klebb’s knife-toed boots in From Russia With Love but from the moment when Q demonstrated the DB5’s machine guns, bullet-proof windows, revolving number plates, fog maker, rear bullet shield, radar, rear oil slick dispenser and passenger ejector seat he created screen history.

Of this last improvement to the Aston Martin Stears mused that “I was never certain we would make the seat work, but in the end we did the stunt in one take”.

For me, the charm of the Bond Aston Martin DB5 is encapsulated by the “smoke shield” which was in fact an overworked stunt man crouched in the boot operating a smoke bomb. Goldfinger, like all early Bond films, is masterpiece of smoke and mirrors – some of the actors, have their voices dubbed, the location footage is quite limited and more of the picture is shot at Pinewood than is popularly believed. The interior shots of the Aston Martin look suspiciously like a Volvo P1800 – Pinewood was using the studio-mock-up of Simon Templar’s car. But from the instant when Bond queried “Ejector seat? You’re joking!” only to receive the irate response “I never joke about my work, 007”, it was a key moment in 1960’s cinema.



It was the year that the 1960’s found its own identity and promised happier times after a bitter 1963. Here’s a snapshot of ’64

Pirate radio started blasting out the sounds from the sea, such as The Supreme’s Baby Petula Clark’s Downtown and a host of Beatle hits like Hard Day’s Night, from the 1964 movie of the same name. Country and Western singer Jim Reeves (pictured) is killed in a plane crash.

Labour swept to power under Harold Wilson – the Tony Blair of his day. US Civil Rights’ Act passes and Dr Martin Luther King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He is killed four years later as is Bobby Kennedy.

In sport, West Ham beat Preston North End in the FA Cup, John Surtees became the only driver ever to win the World Championship on two and four wheels. The Tokyo Olympics were regarded as the ultimate in human performance and would never be bettered...

Goldfinger is released, one of the first UK soaps Crossroads (a Brummie Motel) hits the screen on ITV, while the last Sgt Bilko (Phil Silvers) is aired in the States on CBS. BBC2 is launched as an intellectual TV channel.

It was year of the Mods ‘n’ Rockers clashes over the Bank Holidays at popular seaside resorts. Said to have been egged on by the press, their punch ups lasted only that summer as their repspective ‘movements’ quickly moved on. Which side were you on?

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