Friday, 19 April 2013

Degrees of Continuity - The Aston Martin DB5

We, by which I mean me, here at Volcano Cat are/am always conscious of the responsibilities involved. The unspoken bond, if you like between Blog and reader that we or for all you care I exists, manifested as it isn't by its complete lack of visibility and remarkable absence of any e-mails from you, the presumed Blog-ees. Does that mean we, myself and I ceases to care?, I would like to assure you, each and all that all our staff at VC productions Inc (Registered offices, Box 277, Place De La Revolucion, Bogota) cares as much as he ever did, or is likely to. So, with that thought sitting uneasily in our stomachs in the fashion of an under-cooked pork casserole lets turn our attention away from the ethereal nature of whatever that was all about and contemplate a product of an unlikely survivor in the disaster that we Englanders laughingly called the British Car Industry. The Aston Martin DB5.

Sepia-Vision on, and back we go, in cranky and blotchy silent movie news-reel fashion to 1913. Yes, Queen Victoria was dead and one of the other lot was on the Throne, probably Edward or Edwin. Some bloke. But whats this?; why it's two badly under-researched bloke called Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin. Look, there goes young Martin up a hill, Aston Hill no less. In a car. Changing reels – and I really should do some more research – its World War One, but thanks to the Credit Crunch we've had to abbreviate it to WWI, and there's no footage. Imagine in your mind, if you will – a lot of dead people and some hideously waxed moustaches, bit of poetry and Hurrah! - peace once more. When, oh when will mankind learn, eh?. Moving on – after WWI halted production before it even started, it resumed. Production, not the war...
ABOVE: The original design drawings by Ken Adam with the final article.
BELOW: The Gadgets

 The legendary racer and engineer Count Louis Zborowski gave the ailing company a financial boost and their cars set several speed records at the famous Brooklands circuit. Bamford left the factory in 1920 and it went bankrupt, closing in 1926... Lionel Martin left, but the company was bought out.
Le Mans, the Mille Miglia – such names!, the company, by now calling itself Aston Martin, was on the way to fame and World War II. Eh?, who ordered that?. Yes, more newsreels, but this time with the Pathe cockerel and chirpy plucky lets-all-pull-through-for-victory commentator chappie-bloke. AM made aircraft parts. Hitler shot himself. We really, really need a word about the budget...

ABOVE: The interior and boot of the 'Q-Car'
19 and Forty Seven. David Brown buys the firm and Lagonda, the latter chiefly to get his hands on their WO Bentley-designed motor.
Lets do the desk-calendar dates flying off thing like forties movies... (Ready?)... 1950...(There it goes)...the DB2... 1957...(Whoosh-flutter)...the DBIII... 1958... the DB4... and zoom in to 1963 and the DB5...

ABOVE: The two Goldfinger cars, with a few examples of sixties advertising featuring the 007 Db5
6 cylinders. Four litres. Two Hundred and Eighty Two Horse-Power. 0 to 60? - 7.1 seconds. Top speed? - around 148mph. The DB5 was a development from the DB4, (Durr) itself a stand-out car in a history of notable successes. The third film in the 007 series, Goldfinger was being made, the novel featured a DBIII, but Aston Martin's current model was chosen and the rest... you know the rest. Two cars were used in the film; one, a standard model was used for the driving scenes, the other, heavily modified to showcase Q-branch's incredible array of gadgets. As well as the ejector seat, directional beacon finder, tyre shredder, machine guns and bullet screen seen in the final film, the car featured a radio telephone, a radar system built into a wing mirror and a tray beneath the passenger seat for a gun.
ABOVE: The DB5 returned, briefly in Thunderball
BELOW: The DB5 used in Goldeneye and the return of a classic in Skyfall.
Glencoe, Scotland provided a breathtaking backdrop for the Aston.

The iconic status of the car ensured it's return – notably new Bonds Brosnan and Craig were 'established' to us using the DB5 motif. Goldeneye featured the car explicitly, whilst Casino Royale gave it a more subtle nod with a sky-blue left-hand drive model. The car in Skyfall, was, of course cars. EON productions used their own car, copying it faithfully for the movie. Aston Martin Heritage found a green model, transforming it and aging it, even painting a line around the roof panel to suggest the 'ejector seat' of the original. Every so often, the original gadget car seems to change hands, fetching millions at auction every time. The producers seem to have waved goodbye to the DB5 in Skyfall. I hope they have – the old girl was past her best and showing her age. Should have made that a Judi Dench joke, but you get my drift. A car – even a cutting edge Grand Tourer – from the sixties will not cut it alongside the Aston DBS of Quantum of Solace. Even so, the car's importance to the Bond films was highlighted in the scene at Skyfall lodge where the car is shot to pieces. Daniel Craig's priceless look of outraged anger is the only real emotion he shows, at least until the end of the story... The final scenes of Skyfall establish the new M, a clear statement that Bond is back to his beginnings. Even the office looks like Bernard Lee's original. I love the DB5, that rather beautiful little car with it's small pedals that Connery found so hard to drive. Even after all the years, it still had the audience applauding, a pretty remarkable achievement from one of those very British little car firms that somehow managed to survive two World Wars and the demise of virtually every other company in the business...
ABOVE: Relax, it's a model! - a combination of SFX and model shots were used in the scene where Silva's helicopter shoots Bond's DB5 to pieces.
BELOW: The DB5, Home again - for the last time?
Finally, a note of humour from Mail cartoonist Mac, as the DB5 changes hands once more

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