THE BOND EFFECT
JAMES NICHOL LS TAKES A LOOK AT POSSIBLY THE LOWEST-MILEAGE ASTON MARTIN V 8 VANTAGE KNOWN TO EXIST…
Aston Martin was founded in 1913 by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin, and was originally known as Bamford Martin. It was rechristened the following year as Aston Martin after a successful run by Lionel Martin at the Aston Hill Climb competition. The first car was built in that same year, and was known as the ‘Coal Scuttle’. Very quickly, the company established itself with cars of “Power, Beauty, and Soul”, to borrow Aston Martin’s tagline.
In 1922, two Aston Martins competed in and finished the French Grand Prix. Further racing success took place in 1933 at Le Mans, when the Aston Martin 1.5-litre took the top three places in its class. In 1937, a total of 140 cars were built.
In 1947, the inimitable David Brown took control of the company, and throughout the 1950s Aston Martin went from strength to strength. Further successes at Le Mans followed, and Aston Martin launched the DBR1 racing car, the DB Mk III, and the magnificent DB4. By the end of the decade, Aston Martin had secured the World Sportscar Championship when the DBR1 won the Nürburgring 1000km and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The James Bond effect
The swinging ’60s continued in much the same fashion for this iconic manufacturer —1960 saw the launch of the DB4GT Zagato and in 1963 the DB4 GT won in Ferrari’s backyard, at Monza. This was also the year that the legendary DB5 was launched. It helps, of course, if a car is ‘endorsed’ by, perhaps, fiction’s greatest protagonist. Who has not heard of Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007, and therefore the Aston Martin DB5? The James Bond effect — if it can be coined thus — has had a huge influence on the popularity and desirability of Aston Martins. Indeed, it has also had an effect on the prices that classic Aston Martins now command — in December 2015, a 1962 DB4GT Zagato was sold at auction for US$14,300,000. They were always great cars, but DB5 prices went crazy on the back of 007 mania, pulling up the prices of the wonderful DB4. Next to follow was the Kamm-tailed DB6.
So, with DB4, DB5, and DB6 models all costing both arms and both legs, it is perhaps of little surprise that the prices of their successors are now also on a
rapid rise, and that these cars are increasingly sought after. The replacement — although it was offered concurrently for a period — for the DB6 was the DBS. Though utilizing the same six-cylinder engine as the DB6, the DBS had a much more dynamic and muscular body than its predecessor. The DBS — with 1193 units built between 1967 and 1972 — was eventually given a more powerful V8 engine designed by Tadek Marek, but the William Towns design of the DBS still remained essentially the same when the AMV8 was launched in 1972, followed by the V8 Vantage in 1977. By then, James Bond was portrayed by George Lazenby who, in his sole performance in the role, drove a DBS in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969. When Timothy Dalton took up the 007 mantle in 1987 in The Living Daylights, the car had become a V8 Vantage. Perhaps the best-known film car from this period, though, was the Aston Martin driven by Lord Brett Sinclair, played by Roger Moore in the television show The Persuaders. The Bahama Yellow Aston Martin was actually a six-cylinder DBS, even though it was badged as a V8.
Fresh out of the box
The lines of the car penned by William Towns — whose other work included the Hillman Hunter, the ‘space age’ Aston Martin Lagonda, the Jensen-healey, and the Reliant Scimitar — survived for four decades. The first DBS was seen in 1967, whilst production of the V8 Vantage did not stop until 1990. There were just 458 examples of the V8 Vantage built, which makes it a very rare car — indeed more rare than a DB5, of which 1059 units were made. It is believed that, of the 458 Aston Martin V8 Vantages built, the 1981 car illustrated, in beautiful 1950s Aston Racing Green, is quite possibly the most pristine in the world, looking and behaving as if fresh out of the box. Having covered just 8000km — 5000 miles! — from new, it has benefitted from being owned by some high-profile and wealthy individuals.
First seen at the dealership of Bob Jane — former racing driver, V8 Supercar Hall of Fame inductee, and tyre magnate — on William Street in Sydney, the car was eventually purchased by Rene Rivkin. A flamboyant stockbroker — ultimately disgraced
and jailed for insider trading — Rivkin sold the car of necessity at auction. Its next custodian was Jodhi Meares, model and swimsuit designer, who, at the time, was the wife of billionaire businessman James Packer. Jeremy Best, owner of Cummins Classic Cars in Sydney, wrote to Jodhi asking to purchase the car should she ever wish to sell. That sale eventually took place, and the car was sold to a client before returning to Jeremy, who, in 2011, then sold it a second time to its current owner.
Thankfully, this stunning Australian-delivered car seems to have found a permanent home as one of the jewels in the small car collection of a discerning gentleman. The vehicle is in absolutely immaculate condition, and, along with its very low mileage, is remarkably original. This V8 Vantage still has its original unmarked parchment leather interior, and is completely unchanged from when it first arrived in Australia. It was beautifully repainted whilst owned by Jodhi Meares — who is pictured sitting in the rear of the car. It also benefits from several special factory details, including a mesh front radiator grille rather than a blank grille to allow greater ingress of cooling air for a hot climate.
Without a doubt, this stunning car is a worthy successor to the DB5, which captured the world’s imagination in 1964 in Goldfinger, the following year in Thunderball, and again in the most recent Bond film, Spectre. Its shape is now fashionable once again, and much sought after as the wheel turns full circle.
Is it just my eyes, or is there a connection between the shape of this V8 and the Aston Martin DBX Concept shown at the Concorso d’eleganza Villa d’este in 2015?
Above and left: When Timothy Dalton took up the 007 mantle in 1987 in Thelivingdaylights, the car had become a V8 Vantage.
Left: The DB5 from Goldfinger made a re-appearance in 2015 in Spectre, with Daniel Craig.
Right: The Aston Martin ‘DBX Concept’ shown at the Concorso d’eleganza Villa d’este in 2015
Right: Previous owner Jodhi Meares, pictured sitting in the rear of the featured car