Sci-fi gadgets now a reality, radar scanner pre-dating in car sat-nav by a few decades arguments with your passenger grittier, more realistic character than previous Bonds, and he needed a car to match, so out went the outlandish gadgets.
lust as with the DB5 four decades previously, Aston Martin had been working in secret on a new model, the DBS. When the call came to provide James with his wheels for Casino Royale, it was still so new that it existed only as a clay model. The DBS is 'the most masculine car we've ever done', according to Aston's design chief, Marek Reichman. 'Internally, we'd been describing it in exactly the same way as the new Bond: a tough guy in a dinner suit. It was a perfect fit.'
Daniel Craig and the film's producers came to Aston's headquarters in rural Warwickshire to see the still-secret DBS, to commission Bond's bespoke version and to allow Reichman and his team to meet the new 007.
'When you shake his hand, you realise he really is a tough, powerful guy with these amazing eyes that look right through you,' says Reichman. At six-four, with
movie-star looks and himself a racing driver, Reichman is one of the world's best car designers and not easily impressed. 'I didn't feel like I was meeting Daniel Craig,' he says: 'I honestly felt like I was meeting James Bond.' Instead of just driving an Aston, this Bond inspired one. 'We made the interior very dark after we met Daniel, with lots of black and polished metal. That's where we brought that toughness in.'
The more realistic reimagining of Bond continues with Quantum of Solace. Despite a bigger budget, it uses less CGI and modelling, and there's much more real action. We know how real it is from the accidents they had making it. Some of the rumours about what Aston needs to provide for a Bond shoot - a dozen DBSs worth £2 million - are way off the mark. Three cars were built for Quantum, and all survive. The cars destroyed were either shells or well-used prototype test cars dressed up as a DBS but destined for the crusher anyway under UK tax laws.
Aston Martin still owns the car. It's hard to value it, as the Craig-DBS combination has the credibility and popularity of the Connery-DBs pairing, but hasn't had time to acquire its iconic status. At auction, it might fetch double the standard DBS's £170,500 list price.
It's easy to be cynical about the DBS. The near-fso.ooo premium over a DB9 only scores you an extra 4obhp, a retuned chassis and some slightly dodgy styling addenda. But when you drive it, it starts to pull that particularly Aston-Martin trick of making you ignore its failings, and you just want one very badly indeed.
You get a movie soundtrack, too; Quantum of Solace required no post-production at all on the engine noise. The DBS howls and bellows; it sounds feral and, frankly, alive. You'd think a siobhp V12 with a manual transmission would be hard to handle, but the clutch and 'box are simple to synchronise. When you drop back to second and get that long-travel throttle all the way in, the DBS spears ahead with endless, elastic energy. The calm, low-speed ride reveals controlled, progressive roll, and tight damping when you ask more of it. The quick, calm, direct steering makes the DBS feel about half its size and weight, and the carbon brakes just let you name the speed you need.
We need to see Bond in a car that we men desire as much as women desire him. Aston Martin provokes the desire, but backs it with credibility
- both of which were utterly lacking in the brief, Brosnan-era flirtation with BMW. This is why tiny, now-independent Aston Martin continues to enjoy
- essentially gratis - one of the world's most valuable product placement opportunities, even after the three-picture deal, agreed to when it was still a Ford brand, expired with Quantum of Solace. It can't afford to buy its way in any more, but the Broccolis can't afford to separate Bond from his Aston, because the car has done almost as much as Daniel Craig to make the character credible again.
But it was this DB5 that helped spark the world's obsession with Bond in the first place. Does that justify spending £5 million on a vintage Aston that would only be worth £150,000 if it wasn't for a bunch of gadgets that now look very low-tech in this Avatar age? Watch the reaction of other road users when you extend the ramming bumpers in traffic, and that five million quid will feel like a bargain! PC
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