Despite the occasional change of loyalty to Lotus or BMW – and you can always argue that as those cars were supplied by Q-branch that they don’t represent a change of loyalty at all on the part of 007 – Bond has stuck with Aston Martin for a large part of his celluloid career.
Aston Martin cars in the Bond films
Although he was definitely a Bentley man in the books, the cinematic Bond never really was and the introduction of the Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger was one of the defining moments of the James Bond phenomenon. When it came to putting 007 behind the wheel of an Aston Martin the filmmakers gave him the new DB5 model rather than the DB3 of the book and history was made – such was the success of the pairing of James Bond and Aston Martin in Goldfinger that the DB5 has been called ‘the most famous car in the world’.
After the DB5 in Goldfinger and Thunderball, Aston Martin cars disappeared from the next film, but reappeared with George Lazenby behind the wheel in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This time the car was a DBS, a much squarer design than the DB5, but after Lazenby’s single outing as Bond the marque once again disappeared from James Bond’s world and were absent throughout the Roger Moore years.
When Timothy Dalton played the role he was back in an Aston Martin car, and like George Lazenby it was a DBS, but with the arrival of Pierce Brosnan EON decided that the Aston Martin DB5 would once again make an appearance. Bond stuck with his DB5 throughout the Brosnan years, despite appearing in a BMW as a company car for 2 films. Brosnan’s final outing as Bond saw MI6 return to Aston Martin cars with the Vanquish. And when Daniel Craig arrived on the scene in Casino Royale, he was behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DBS, although its screentime was short.
The history of Aston Martin Cars
The history of Aston Martin cars begins in 1913, with the formation of Bamford and Martin Limited to produce sports cars with real character, class and performance. Two years later the name Aston Martin was registered but the company closed for the remainder of the First World War, being refounded upon cessation of hostilities.
Robert Bamford left the company is 1920, necessitating additional funding and the following year the first competition car bearing the Aston Martin name was produced. The car went on to make an appearance in the French Grand Prix in 1922. The company went bankrupt in 1924, surviving through new funding, but despite this investment the company once again went bankrupt in 1925!
Aston Martin Motors Limited was formed in 1926, when the remains of Bamford and Martin was rescued, although Lionel Martin was no longer involved with the company. The company had some small successes, but cars were only ever produced in tiny numbers and the ever present financial problems made themselves known again in 1932, when ownership again changed.
During the war Aston Martin produced aircraft parts and the modern history of the company really begins in 1947, when tractor manufacturer David Brown Limited bought Aston Martin Motors.
David Brown lent his initials to a new series of cars, starting with the DB2 in 1950, the DB3 racing car in 1957 – Ian Fleming was wrong to put Bond in a DB3, he probably meant the DB Mark III – and the DB4 in 1958. But it is the 1963 Aston Martin DB5 for which James Bond will forever be associated. The company continued the line with the DB6 and the DBS, but once again financial problems in 1972 forced David Brown to find a buyer.
Once again a change in ownership did nothing to stabilise Aston Martin’s fortunes and the company went through several owners over the course of the next 20 years, with a handful of new cars produced. The DB7 was announced just as Aston Martin cars were to be taken over by Ford, which saw a big increase in investment and more new models, including the V8 Vantage, DB9 and new DBS.
However, that is far from the end of the story, as Ford is looking for a buyer for Aston Martin, a fate that the company seems destined to repeat again and again.