As­ton Martin chrome­plated ball­point pen

VANTAGE - - Desirables Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days -

£195 www.har­rods.com

At least once a week we find our­selves wish­ing we had a pen on our per­son, usu­ally when try­ing to open some in­fu­ri­at­ing, shrinkwrapped doo­dad. Here’s a doo­dad opener so hand­some – fin­ished in beau­ti­fully turned chrome – that we’d gladly use it for its in­tended pur­pose, too. £7350 www.pan­erai.com

Lovely thing, this. The 1940 3 Days ref­er­ences one of the most de­sir­able watches from Pan­erai’s past: the rare Egiziano Pic­colo, the black face of which was un­ex­pect­edly turned brown by the ra­dium-based ‘Ra­diomir’ pow­der used to cre­ate the dial’s lu­mi­nous mark­ings. It’s the horo­log­i­cal ver­sion of a reis­sued In­verted Jenny.

The name’s Wood­house…

Fol­low­ing your Bond As­tons spe­cial ( Van­tage is­sue 12), I thought your read­ers might be in­ter­ested in the at­tached photo and the story be­hind it.

I was the ser­vice de­pot man­ager at the New­port Pag­nell fac­tory at the time, and the photo came about when I got an ur­gent telephone call from Steve Heg­gie, the new man­ag­ing direc­tor of As­ton Martin Lagonda, to drop ev­ery­thing and get the Goldfin­ger DB5 down to Hyde Park as fast as I could, as pre-premiere pub­lic­ity pho­to­graphs were needed.

The pho­to­graph was taken by Bar­ratt’s Pho­to­press Ltd, of 20/21 Red Lion Court, Fleet Street on Septem­ber 14, 1964. Hav­ing duly met up with the pho­tog­ra­pher and a model, I was asked if I would stand in for Bond, which was a sur­prise. I de­cided to play the part and took the pistol from the draw un­der the driver’s seat, which also con­tained hand grenades and a few other lethal weapons, and adopted the pose.

The car was a to­tal pig to drive. The de­vel­op­ment department at As­ton had taken Eon Pro­duc­tions lit­er­ally when they had said they wanted a bul­let-proof screen that could come up be­tween the rear wind­screen and the bootlid. To do this with a solid ar­mour-plated steel sheet meant two pow­er­ful and very heavy rams, over­load­ing the rear end. If we had un­der­stood the film world better, we would have re­alised the bul­lets hit­ting the screen would have been filmed in the stu­dio in close-up, and the car could have read­ily been fit­ted with a hon­ey­comb faced with two sheets of alu­minium. But there you are, you learn with ex­pe­ri­ence.

Be­cause of the ar­ma­ments draw un­der the driver’s seat there was very little pad­ding and reduced head­room. In fair­ness, at the time no one had fore­seen that the car would be in such de­mand and I would be driv­ing to so many events. If I had a pas­sen­ger, my con­stant worry was that he might flip the cover on the gear lever and press the red but­ton. The ejec­tor seat worked on com­pressed air, but you had to first open the roof man­u­ally!

Of course I had a lot of fun with the car, but it could be a right pain, not least be­cause my ser­vice department had to maintain it. Even­tu­ally, to my re­lief, both this DB5 [now known as the Ef­fects Car] and the rel­a­tively un­mod­i­fied high-speed model [the Road Car] were shipped out to Ja­pan to pro­mote the film there and then I be­lieve they went on round the world.

I well re­mem­ber the start of the whole she­bang. Steve Heg­gie came bounc­ing into my of­fice, full of beans, say­ing: ‘Bill, Bill, they want to have an As­ton Martin in the new James Bond film.’ I, hav­ing read the books, said: ‘I’d better try and find an owner with a well pre­served DB2/4 Mk III.’ Heg­gie replied: ‘Don’t be so pedan­tic! It’s going to be a DB5.’

I have to say, I wasn’t con­vinced and couldn’t re­sist say­ing: ‘So hav­ing made our name win­ning world cham­pi­onships, we’re now going to pro­mote our­selves with make-be­lieve.’ Steve’s re­ply? ‘You don’t un­der­stand. Your friends don’t buy As­ton Martins any more… they buy trac­tors! Our new cus­tomers make their money in the city, and they will be im­pressed by im­age.’ Of course, Steve was right: a better mar­ket­ing man than me. Bill Wood­house, Stur­min­ster New­ton, Dorset

Em­peror’s new clothes

Is it not time some­one pricked the Za­gato dou­ble-bub­ble? Za­gato bod­ies have, to my mind, never im­proved an As­ton Martin – and in at least two oc­ca­sions have ru­ined their looks com­pletely.

The DB4 GT is a sleek, lean, hand­some car – poised like a grey­hound, ready for a chase. The DB4 GT Za­gato is a puffed­out ver­sion on steroids with con­ges­tive heart fail­ure and in need of di­uret­ics.

Then we come to the hor­ror of hor­rors, the V8 Za­gato, whose looks – ei­ther in coupé or drop­head ver­sion – only a mother could love. It is ac­tively ugly from all an­gles. I wouldn’t even call it a Mar­mite car – be­cause many people, my­self in­cluded, like Mar­mite!

They’re very rare, you say. All I can say is, thank God they are. At least they’re un­likely to frighten the horses as they drive by. They’re very quick, you say. Yes, and put a V8 en­gine into a Mor­ris Mi­nor and it will be quick, too (and a lot better to look at). Any­one who is think­ing of pay­ing £200,000 for one of those needs a psy­chi­a­trist quickly.

So, on to the DB7 Za­gato fea­tured in is­sue 12. Za­gato took the best look­ing car in the world (ac­cord­ing to Jeremy Clark­son) and messed it up. The widened front grille looks like some­one in the den­tist’s chair; the rear looks as if it has been smacked very hard; the roof looks as if it has had a tree fall on it. No won­der val­ues were static for a long time – people have good sense.

A prominent AMOC mem­ber once bought a wedge-shaped Lagonda with­out telling his wife. When he brought it home and she saw it she would not let him in. She has good sense and hon­esty. Ital­ian stylists Tour­ing pro­duced great-look­ing As­ton Martins. By com­par­i­son, most Za­gatos are puffed-up over­priced non­sense! Dr Gra­ham Barker, Kingston upon Thames, Sur­rey SPRING 2016

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