Li­cence to THRILL

The cars that al­low you to in­dulge in a bit of Bondage

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - SA­MAN­THA STEVENS sa­man­tha.stevens@cars­guide.com.au

ONE time or an­other, ev­ery­one has wanted to be James Bond, if not for his con­quests, then for his cars. I’d rock up like Honey Ry­der if it promised a ride in an As­ton Martin DB5— but only if 007 was Con­nery or Craig.

It’s been half a cen­tury since Sean Con­nery de­buted as Bond in Dr. No, and the lat­est film in the fran­chise, Sky­fall, brings the re­turn of its most fa­mous four­wheeled co-star, the As­ton Martin DB5.

The most recog­nis­able Bond ve­hi­cle, ac­quir­ing many of its fans from its star­ring role, the DB5 has fea­tured in five of the 23 films ( Thun­der­ball, Gold­en­Eye, To­mor­row Never Dies, Casino Royale, and Sky­fall).

Fifty years on, a DB5 can fetch any­where be­tween $350,000 to $600,000, par­tic­u­larly for the hard­core Van­tage ver­sion. In com­par­i­son, the mod­ern DBS, driven along­side the DB5 in Casino Royale by Daniel Craig, re­tails for $450,000–$497,000.

Which would you buy if you had half a mil? And how do the time­less Bond clas­sics stack up to the mod­ern-day Bond car? Goldfin­ger, 1964 As­ton Martin DB5 vs DBS The stun­ning DB5 Van­tage on our cover be­longs to Michael Bran­son, pres­i­dent of the As­ton Martin Own­ers ClubNSW (amoc­nsw.org.au).

Of the 1023 DB5s made be­tween 1963 and 1965, only 65 were of Van­tage spec. In­tro­duced in 1964 at the same time as the Bond film in which it made its de­but, the Van­tage has triple We­ber car­bu­ret­tors and lighter in­ter­nals to get more from its straight six.

The first thing to strike you about the car is its drive­abil­ity, ex­em­pli­fied by Bran­son not bat­ting an eye­lid as we pull out on to the road via a peb­ble-lined gravel drive­way, and drive straight over the steeply gut­tered exit. One would think twice about do­ing the same thing in a DBS, and the gut­ter would need to be taken at a 45-de­gree an­gle for fear of rip­ping off the mod­ern car’s low front split­ter.

Swap­ping seats, it’s clear the DB5 ex­em­pli­fies the mean­ing of a Grand Tourer. The large, orig­i­nal steer­ing wheel and lack of power as­sis­tance makes round­abouts a tad me­nial, but its torque lets it too­tle around in sec­ond or third eas­ily, and its rise through the revs on a three-lane road is noth­ing short of silky.

The sense of oc­ca­sion in a mod­ern As­ton is com­pletely dif­fer­ent, as is peo­ple’s re­ac­tion. Bran­son could sell the DB5 Van­tage for up to $400,000 as is and ad­mits that a mod­ern ver­sion has tempted him in the past. But the emo­tional con­nec­tion to the car is too strong, and the ex­clu­siv­ity of the rare model is hard to im­i­tate.

Un­less you ac­tu­ally are Bond, be pre­pared to take a back seat to a car with this much pres­ence. You Only Live Twice, 1967 Toy­ota 2000GT vs Toy­ota 86 GTS The star car of You Only Live Twice, filmed in Ja­pan, was an open-top ver­sion of the 2000GT

I spy: Sa­man­tha Stevens with the As­ton Martin DB5 Van­tage

at Oat­lands House

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