In the automotive world, there are plenty of memorable cars. But few have become as legendary as the Aston Martin DB5. Forever known as James Bond’s signature vehicle, the DB5 has become immortalised in popular culture. But how did the car find its way to 007? And what makes it so appealing? We take a look at the history of the DB5 and what makes it special.
Style meets swagger
The DB5, named after industrialist Sir David Brown, went into production in 1963. It differed from the DB4 by having an all-aluminum engine, increasing from 3.7 L to 4.0 L. The engine produced 282 bhp, meaning the car could reach a speed of 145 mph.
From the moment it rolled off the production line, you could tell the DB5 was a gorgeous car. It featured chrome wire wheels, magnesium-alloy body, full leather trim in the cabin and electric windows. Aston Martins had the style to match Bond’s swagger, which is why Ian Fleming had him driving an Aston Martin DB Mark III in the novels. As the DB5 was the newest model in 1964, it was chosen as the car to appear in Goldfinger.
As attractive as the DB5 was, it could be argued that it was down to the decision making of one man that catapulted the car into legend. This was special effects expert John Stears, who was responsible for fitting 007’s gadgets into the car. Bond’s DB5 came equipped with two machine guns, battering ram bumpers, an advanced navigation system and an ejector seat.
For the machine guns and bullet-proof rear screen, Stears took inspiration from the wings of a WW2 Spitfire aircraft. According to Desmond Llewelyn, who played Q, the wheels of the DB5 were “just a variation of the chariot wheel scythes of Ben Hur, and gangsters in the Prohibition era who resorted to oil slicks when driving their getaway cars.”
Yet it was the ejector seat that made the car stand out most. Recognising an opportunity, Corgi Toys began a partnership with the Bond franchise and produced a toy model of the car. It became the biggest selling toy of 1964.
A legacy that will last forever
Two DB5s were used in Goldfinger, one that Sean Connery drove and another for stunts. Labelled FMP 7B, the stunt car was actually useless for a high-speed chase because its German ZF gearbox failed during filming in Switzerland. The original prototype DB5 was eventually stripped of its gadgets and sold. It was then retrofitted with non original weaponry by subsequent owners. This culminated in the original car being stolen in Florida in 1997.
Although it wasn’t the first car Bond drove, the DB5 is undoubtedly the most famous. Like the driver, the DB5 has a timeless quality that will continue to excite the public for years to come.