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1965 Aston Martin DB5 (James Bond) - 12th November 2007

Quick Drive

DA Aston Martin DB5 Goldeneye
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1965 James Bond Aston Martin DB5 1965 James Bond Aston Martin DB5 1965 James Bond Aston Martin DB5 1965 James Bond Aston Martin DB5

What’s the most nervous you have ever been in a car? Well here’s mine; DB5 - Ex James Bond (yes really!), insured for £450k; the owner, a film crew and myriad spectators watch on as you back it out from its stone garage into a crowded forecourt crammed full of cars. All of the said people offering you advice on the best way to manoeuvre this motoring icon, whilst waving their hands around like bookies at the races.

This was my first driving experience of a car I (and a bet a fair few of you lot) had lusted over ever since I was a boy. Did yours start, like mine, at Christmas with the Corgi James Bond car with its ejector seat and machine guns, how cool was that? As I grew older and I got to see the film of Mr Bond dashing across Europe, chasing Mr Goldfinger and dallying with ladies affections, it just got better. The real car was even cooler than the toy.

Through the years Bond flirted with plastic fantastic cars from Norfolk and then, worst of all, BMWs. You and I knew his heart still lay with Newport Pagnel’s finest. I think EON productions knew this too, so despite the deal being done with Munich, the real star car in GoldenEye was the DB5. What a great sight (if slightly mismatched) we were treated to as Mr Bond chased the Russian floozy in her Ferrari 355 on the roads above Monaco, throwing it round hairpin bends whilst maintaining eye contact with the deadly temptress.

You see this was the car, the very car, from the film (one of three used) I was sitting in sweating, very un-Bond like, swearing under my breath at its lack of power steering, its bloody fly-off handbrake and all those "Oh So Helpful" comments coming from the watching masses. It might have been "the" car in 1965 but as I chugged up the lane with it coughing and spluttering it felt terrible; dead brakes, ponderous gear change and disconnected steering. "Oh God" I thought, another childhood hero brought down to earth by the weight of expectations and the relentless improvements of the automotive industry over the last 40 years.

Out on to the open road, the oil pressure was settling down, the water got up to temperature and away from my audience I squeezed the throttle pedal. 4,000 rpm hit and wow, the old girl cleared her throat and it all started to flow, this was more like it. The steering wheel became animated, it responded to my inputs not just the imperfections on the road, the noise built and I was starting to enjoy this. I needed to adapt to 40 years ago for this car, not to today; drive with a bit more effort and it was rewarded 10 fold. YES...this was more like it, this felt like real driving.

I relaxed a little and began to notice people smiling, boys waving, admiring glances and little waves from attractive women (you are a shallow lot, it’s not just us men). I started to push a little further up the rev range and the Aston surged forwarded with real vigour. Out on to the motorway it breezed into the outside lane and kept up easily with the modern breed of car that consider it their domain. Yes I know the motorway is no place for this beautiful creature but it’s always good to get some perspective on how a classic cuts it on our most crowded and fast moving roads.

Enough of straight lines, let’s head for the hills and try and find a 355 to play with! I was now completely in the groove I had even learned to trust the brakes; they needed a good shove to get past that dead spot and no, they don’t bite like a set of modern over-servoed Audis, but they worked and that’s enough. I was starting to push harder in the corners, the steering loading up but the feedback was there and the tyres let you know how close to letting go they were by audibly protesting. The 5 speed ZF gearbox responded to a firm guiding hand and you could feel the mechanical action of every perfect or not so perfect change.

Like many classic cars it’s the noise that makes you feel alive. Not just exhaust noise, but good old fashioned induction roar; modern fuel injection has robbed us of this treat for the ears; you can hear the engine breathing, taking in great lungfulls of air through its triple SU’s to drive it on ever faster...and it was going faster. So this is why the DB5 is a legend; it’s quick now; 40 years ago it must have been otherworldly. Its top speed is claimed to be 142mph, 40 years ago your average family saloon struggled to do 70! Then there was the cost; in 1965 it cost £4,048; in 1964 my parents paid £1,000 for a 3 bedroom house. It was very expensive then and very special...some things never change.

I’ve not mentioned the looks yet, but how gorgeous is this car? The styling was by Touring of Italy and the body was the last Aston to be built using the Superleggera (super light) construction of aluminium panels rolled over a steel frame. All of that’s nice technical detail, to me its just one of the most stunning cars ever crafted. I defy you not to run your hand over those curves; you have to touch it, it’s a work of art.

I know it’s a cliche dashing down across the continent to the South of France but this was/is the car to do it in; it’s comfortable with good seats; plenty of room for your Dunhill overnight bag and your bespoke Savile Row suits; you can cover ground quickly and in real style. The DB5 is a true gentleman’s express; this one just happened to have been driven by me.

Special thanks to my mate Max for the loan of his masterpiece.


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