Bond’s Aston Martin – The inspiration behind the legend wasn’t the DB5!

With all the excitement and furore in the press about James Bond’s new Aston Martin DB10, it seems appropriate to investigate the Aston Martin / James Bond relationship with fresh eyes.

Perhaps the most famous of all of 007’s means of transport is, of course, the Aston Martin DB5: the first car to be adapted by Q-Branch for field work and fitted out with a wondrous array of gadgets. James Bond’s first personal vehicle, the old Bentley, was replaced with the higher-spec’d Aston Martin DB5 in the film “Goldfinger”. However, the car in Ian Fleming’s book of the same name was not an Aston Martin DB5, but the Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark III. Fleming owned neither a Bentley nor an Aston Martin, but his choice of this legendary vehicle does have an interesting history.

Aston Martin DB2

Ian Fleming was the roguish younger son of a British MP, Valentine Fleming , who was a close friend of Lord Swinton, who went on to become Head of MI5. It is believed that the character of M is based on Swinton, however it is Swinton’s son The Hon. Philip Ingram Cunliffe-Lister, who may be responsible for Bond’s love of Aston Martins, as he owned a very interesting Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark 1 at the time when Fleming was writing his legendary tomes.

Ian Fleming’s next door neighbours, while he was living in St Margaret’s Bay near Deal in Kent, were Dennis and Rose Ramsay. (Fleming famously used the Ramsay’s house as inspiration for the home of his character Hugo Drax in his 3rd book, Moonraker). The Ramsay’s were godparents to Philip Cunliffe-Lister’s younger son and Philip used to visit them regularly. In the sleepy Kentish villages of the mid 1950s it would be almost impossible not to notice his state of the art Aston Martin arrive. Given the family connections and Fleming’s relationship with the Ramsays it is highly likely that Philip and Ian were also friends, but the coincidence doesn’t end there.

Like Bond’s Aston Martin DB2/4 Mk III in Fleming’s book, Philip’s (who is also believed to have worked for MI5) featured a number of special modifications, including reinforced steel bumpers, a heavy-duty anti-interference ignition system, driver’s seat connections for a two-way radio and a homing device, as well as a gadget which accurately computed time and distance in relation to a pre-selected average speed. Philip Cunliffe-Lister’s car was discovered, rotting in a shed in 2013 and was lovingly restored by a Deal Aston Martin enthusiast, who discovered the unusual modification and began to research the car’s history. As a result of this connection, when it came up for auction earlier this year, this stunning classic was sold for £250,000. For although nobody can be certain of the Fleming/Cunliffe-Lister friendship, the similarities between his car and Bond’s is unmistakable. As prime example of British engineering at its best, what better car for Fleming to use for his fiercely patriotic spy!

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Fleming’s 7th book, Goldfinger, was published in January 1959, however it was the third story to make it to the silver screen 4 years later. At the time of filming, the DB5 was in the design stage. When in 1963 the filmmakers approached Aston Martin, the film crew was loaned the original prototype as well as purchasing one for “Q” to fit out with hidden weapons and tricks, and the most iconic car in British Cinematic history was created.

The culmination of Aston Martin’s wonderful 50 year collaboration with the film studio was unveiled this week with the creation of the DB10. The DB10 may not be “ for sale”  now, but the company has confirmed “the DB10 gives a glimpse to the future design direction for the next generation of Aston Martins.”

If you would like to express interest in the next range of Bond Inspired Aston Martins, please contact us at our Aston Martin Dealerships. If you can’t wait till then H.R. Owen are proud to stock the full range of new Aston Martins as well as a wide range of approved used Aston Martins.