Anyone who was even just four going-on-five years old in the autumn of 1964 will remember watching the James Bond film Goldfinger for the very first time. Some of them will have seen it to the greatest advantage in one of Oscar Deutsch’s great, big, single-screen, Odeon cinemas which, owing to urban redevelopment, have nearly all been lost to us. In any event, most adults have seen the film.
Besides the film stars, the film featured a glittering co-star; a silver-birch coloured Aston Martin DB5, considered by many the most beautiful Aston Martin ever made, complete with all the gadgets which ‘Q’ branch could muster. The novel has Bond being assigned, out of the secret service car pool, an Aston Martin DB Mark III (Fleming called it a ‘DB III’, which was actually a racing car), with far less in the way of extras, apart from: reinforced bumpers (for ramming); a light-colour and light-shape-changing apparatus (to avoid being followed at night); a long-barrelled Colt .45 revolver in a secret compartment under the driver’s seat and a radio tracking device. The Bond of the novel decided that these slight extras gave it the edge over a Jaguar 3.4 litre. However, by the time that the film came to be made, the DB5 was the latest model of Aston Martin and so that was eventually used but it was first fitted with all manner of modifications: tyre-puncturing, spinning hubcaps; revolving number plates; front machine guns; a smoke screen device; a nail spreader; moving bumpers; a rear oil-slick dispenser; bullet-proof windows and a back-screen shield; a passenger ejector seat (and roof hatch), as well as a radio tracking device; all controlled from a panel between the front seats.
In fact, the gadgets were the actual work of set designer Ken Adam, in collaboration special effects’ engineering-guru John Stears, and the toy maker Corgi produced a toy DB5, complete with some of the gadgets, making it the best-selling toy car of the year. An Aston Martin DB5 has, altogether, appeared in five further Bond films: Thunderball (when rear pressure hoses seem to have been added to the armament); Goldeneye; Tomorrow Never Dies; Casino Royale, as well as the latest - Skyfall and (although some of the later appearances have been as an ingenious and expendable 1:3 scale model, created by a three dimensional printing process in plastic), in a nice tribute to the long association between James Bond and Aston Martin, the original licence registration plate of the armed DB5 (BMT 216A) makes a re-appearance in Skyfall. The tribute comes in the 50th year since the first Eon Productions’ film Dr No and just in time to mark the 100th anniversary of Aston Martin in 2013.