Why does James Bond drive an Aston Martin? The answer may surprise you.
Did you get excited when the Aston Martin DB5 first appeared in Goldfinger? Maybe you wept when the Aston Martin DBS was destroyed in Casino Royale or when the DB5 classic met its unfortunate end in Skyfall? James Bond driving an Aston Martin product has been a trademark of the movies throughout the decades since its first appearance in 1964. There may have been a few hiccups over the ensuing 60 years (yes, we're looking at you, BMW 750i and Z3), but the MI6 agent driving a highly-modified and gadget-laden Aston Martin is an element we demand in Bond movies.
The collector car value of silver-on-black Aston Martin DB5 models has soared to be five times that of an Aston Martin Valhalla. And many of those sales go through famous car auctioneer RM Sotheby's, which was able to tap Aston Martin's Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman for insights into the automaker's storied relationship with 007.
"For Goldfinger, [Ken Adam, set designer] focused much closer on the sourcebook [by Ian Fleming] and if you read the book, although at one point Bond is driving a Bentley, an Aston Martin is mentioned," Reichmann told RM Sotheby's. "Adam had a very, very small budget for Goldfinger, as the cost cap was coming in, they were wanting to do more and more movies - so he couldn't afford to buy an Aston Martin to race around the Italian Alps and so on."
Adam had been instructed to use a Jaguar E-Type roadster, which at the time had already been around a few years. Faced with adversity, Adam had another idea while driving home one day.
"Adam's daily journey from his offices to the film studios took him through the outskirts of London where he passed a Silver Birch DB5," Reichman recounts. "And even though they had planned to use the Jaguar E-type, in his mind, he knew Bond just had to have an Aston Martin. So, he phoned Aston Martin and said, 'Hey guys, do you have a car I could borrow?' On that first phone call, he only got through to a junior member of staff who said, 'No, sorry we don't do that.'"
Adam pleaded with the Aston Martin staffer to participate in this upcoming movie but they allegedly hung up on the intrepid set designer. Adam eventually prevailed and secured the Silver Birch DB5 loaner for the movie but one day on the set, the car was stolen and had to be replaced.
"I think it's almost become part of entertainment culture now. People [say], 'which Aston Martin is going in the next movie?' It's become part of the makeup of Bond in many ways. We've transcended product placement to being part of his story."
Since then many of the latest Aston Martin products have been up on the big screen in Bond blockbusters including the fabled DB10 concept. The impressive Aston Martin Victor or outrageous track-only Valkryie never got any screen time, while the new Valhalla hypercar made a brief background appearance in the latest Bond flick: No Time To Die.