Is there a more iconic movie car? The DB5 full of gadgets who stars on screen in Goldfinger did as much for the reputation of James Bond as for that of Aston Martin. Such a myth is obviously elevated to the rank of Grail by collectors: a vintage copy, built by production with all the gadgets, found a buyer last year for 6.4 million dollars (5.4 million dollars). euros), at RM Sotheby's auction at the Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach, California. A standard DB5, in perfect condition, is now trading around ten times cheaper.
Aston Martin saw in this enthusiasm the opportunity to add a new reference to its "Continuation Series". This name designates the idea, very British (only Jaguar and Bentley do the same), of produce new cars to exact period specification. In short, official replicas, which have a real chassis number given by the manufacturer. After twenty-five DB4 GTs, then nineteen DB4 GT Zagato (delivered in a pack with a new DBS Zagato), comes the turn of the DB5 Goldfinger, whose deliveries began this summer. There too, twenty-five copies are planned, at a unit price of 2.75 million pounds sterling excluding taxes (3.04 million euros). This price speaks for itself: it would have been complicated to sell such an expensive "simple" DB5. This is why the manufacturer has decided, in partnership with Eon, the producer of the James Bond series, to reproduce all the gadgets of the car that appears in Goldfinger.
The slowest production line in the world
It’s at Newport-Pagnell, in its historic stronghold, that Aston Martin has arranged to meet us. Although cars are no longer produced in these brick buildings since the head office moved to Gaydon in 2003, activity remains intense there. Paul Spiers, director of Aston Martin Works, takes us on a guided tour, in a workshop where car maintenance is carried out. The rarest models are pouring in from all over the world: on the day of our visit, four One-77s (model limited to 77 copies) coexist in these places. On the left, after entering, the saddlery workshop works by hand, for the restoration of old cars. One of the craftsmen has been working there for over thirty years. "Sometimes he restores the upholstery of models he made at the time," laughs Paul Spiers.
One room further on, we come to the paint shop, which runs 24 hours a day. "Our painters are artists," marvels Paul Spiers. "Looking at a car coming out of our workshops, I am able to tell who painted it. Depending on whether the painter is right-handed or left-handed, depending on how he is used to holding the gun, there are slight differences. All the people who work here are the best in their specialty, and only work in their area of expertise. "
Then, behind an almost hidden door, we enter a room away from prying eyes. Several new DB5 chassis are under construction, receiving an aluminum body formed by hand, with the tools of the time: hammer and English wheel. The work is meticulous, the chain does not seem much different from the one that was in the same place nearly sixty years ago. Bodybuilders fine-tune fabricated and refined items until they become perfect.
"We have never built a DB5 of this quality"
Then we arrive in the final assembly area. Three DB5s are aligned there, receiving their last elements. As we arrive, a craftsman is meticulously adjusting the gas hatch. "It's the slowest production line in the world, but it's a real production line," says Paul Spiers with pride. "Here, each car is assembled by several specialists. Unlike some of our competitors, whose Continuation Series are built entirely by two people in a corner of the workshop. A DB5 Goldfinger requires 4,500 hours of labor, against only 200 for a DBS ".
"We have never produced a DB5 with such quality," continues Paul Spiers. This is what convinces some customers to break the bank, although you can find a vintage DB5 (admittedly not the James Bond one) for much less. "In Europe, enthusiasts are very fond of authenticity. But in other markets, particularly North America and Asia, there is a real appetite for new vintage cars." This explains why, of the twenty-five units planned, there are only two or three left for sale today.
An adult toy
This DB5 Goldfinger Continuation Series is, like any high-value car (whether it's an old-fashioned or a modern hypercar), considered an investment by their buyers, but there is also a very specific "adult toy" aspect. "Some of our customers already own our first two Continuation Series, the DB4 GT and DB4 Zagato. They want the full collection, as they would with Dinky Toys."
Also, James Bond gadgets are having an effect. In a room lit by cinema projectors, we have the right to a demonstration. "We made a deviation from loyalty by adding a remote control", reveals us maliciously Paul Spiers by opening a black leather case, revealing red buttons. "Because we imagine that our customers, when they receive their car, will invite their friends over for dinner in their palace to show off their latest purchase." With these words, he activates a command, which triggers the car's rotating license plate, with the noise of an electric motor that is typically "bondesque". Then the bumper stoppers pop up, and the bulletproof shield "really bulletproof, we wanted it, since it was reinforced with Kevlar." The machine guns housed behind the turn signals are dummy, and there's no ejection seat, just an optional removable roof panel. So many gadgets that required the specific installation of a 24 Volt electrical network.
Not homologated on the road, but that's not a problem
This DB5 is not approved for the road. Because of its gadgets, of course, but also and above all because it is considered a new car: it is not the safety and pollution standards of the 1960s that are applied to it, but those of 2020, to which they would be unable to answer. However, this is not a problem for customers. "A number of them consider these cars primarily as collector's items to be displayed in a museum," reveals Paul Spiers. “And, if we don't sell them as open-road cars, some end up getting registered.”
Single reception in the UK is possible, as is registration in some US states, where the legislation is much more fluid, then allowing circulation throughout the country. "Also, for our customers who are part of royal families, there is obviously hardly any problem obtaining a driving license. We were therefore surprised by the mileage of one of our DB4 GTs: its owner drives it every days, leaving behind his garage companion, a Bugatti Veyron. "
Direction Stoke Park
For Aston Martin, driving a DB5 Continuation Series is not a problem either: with one of the factory license plates, I was dropped on the road, driving, towards Stoke Park, the very place where 007 first met Auric Goldfinger, during a memorable round of golf. About 70 km await me on English country roads. "We turned off the gadgets," Paul Spiers tells me with a wink. "To better help you resist the temptation to use them on the road". For a moment, the idea crossed my mind to activate the smoke screen (particularly effective since it is diffused using two fans) and disappear, direction Paris via Le Shuttle …
With this model, Aston Martin has succeeded in achieving its exact objective: that this new DB5 behaves like an old DB5 in perfect condition. The emotion behind the wheel is there, with a box that calls for a certain grip, a six-cylinder (whose power is 294 hp, ten more than the original model) which goes up in the towers with nonchalance and the inimitable purring. carburetors. The charm of a vintage car is intact, even in the flaws: despite my 1.75 m, my hair touches the ceiling and the engine, which delivers its calories, quickly overheated the interior. Pleasure and authenticity are there. Once you understand how to use this beautiful Englishwoman, you don't want to stop. Aston Martin has taken great care to select the same Avon tires as the original model, so that the driving sensations remain the same. All that's missing is the smell and the patina of the years for the picture to be complete.
The James Bond Aston Martin DB5, in its famous "Silver Birch" hue, looks timeless. This brand new copy is proof of that, it always turns heads when I arrive at Stoke Park golf course. Unmissable, DB5 will be featured in the next James Bond film again and again, Die Can Wait, alongside the V8s, DBS and Valhalla. And she still follows me, after returning the keys, to Heathrow airport: her miniature signed Corgi is present in the souvenir shop of the terminal, alongside the famous double-decker bus, the "black cab" and the cabins telephone. A sign that she is a true jewel in the crown.