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