Aston Martin Reveals the Spy Gadgets in Its US$3.5m Bond tribute

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on May 15, 2019.

Sketches of the gadgets meant for James Bond’s DB5 coupe. Photos by Bloomberg

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While actor Rami Malek is rubbing his villainous hands together, promising to give Daniel Craig hell in his fifth and last James Bond film, there is news out of England on the 25 cars Aston Martin is making for the most die-hard, deep-pocketed 007 fans.

Announced in August, the US$3.5 million (RM14.6 million) continuation DB5s, like the kind Sean Connery drove in Goldfinger, are not only actual running cars based on the 1964 model, but they were teased as having working spy gadgetry as well. And now we know what that spycraft will be.

Developed with Chris Corbould, the Oscar- and OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) -winning special effects supervisor for eight Bond films, the gadgets will include rotating number plates, rear smoke screens and oil slicks, and retractable bullet-resistant rear shields. Most likely to appeal to your inner hyped-up 10-year-old: “simulated” twin machine guns planted on the front of the car.

“The guns appearing from the front lights were a particular challenge as, in the film world, we are able to use flammable gas mixtures combined with an ignition system to produce a flame and noise effect,” Corbould said in a written statement on the prototypes unveiled yesterday. “Clearly this is not practical in untrained hands, so we have devised a new system to achieve a realistic effect.”

Instead, the final version of the “guns” will emit light and include a sound effect when you pull the “trigger.”

The interior will feature a telephone in the driver’s side door, a faux radar-tracker screen, and a weapons tray hidden under the leather seats, all of which are intended to be just as engaging as they were when Q approved them for Bond decades ago.

The cars will be made by Aston Martin engineers in the same Buckinghamshire factory where all 1,095 DB5 sports cars, including convertible and shooting-brake versions, were manufactured from 1963 to 1965. They will be numbered as if new off the line in the 1960s — and, no, prospective owners cannot ask for custom tweaks.

Under the hood will be straight-six, 282-brake-horsepower engines similar to the originals. They will go just about as fast, too, requiring 7.1 seconds to hit 60 mph (96.56 kmph) with a top speed of 148 mph, according to the company — not that you will be able to open it up on the road. As authentic reproductions, they will not meet today’s safety and legislation requirements for new cars, making them illegal to drive in most countries.

By comparison, an original (and theoretically drivable) 1964 DB5 took US$880,000 at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2014. The convertible version of the DB5, more stunning and more expensive than the coupe, also costs less than the new Bond toy. A 1965 DB5 convertible sold for US$2.7 million at RM Sothebys in 2017. Wresting more of those beauties from the current owners may prove difficult, with only 85% of the original DB5s still in existence today, per Aston estimates.

Deliveries of the continuation DB5s start in 2020, with the majority of the 25 now allocated. — Bloomberg