Aston Martin unveils revamped Valhalla

Aston Martin publicity image for the Valhalla.

Aston Martin this week unveiled a revamped version of its hybrid supercar, the Valhalla. An earlier version appears in No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film.

Here’s part of the press release:

15 July 2021, Gaydon, Warwickshire: Aston Martin’s transformational journey takes a huge step forwards with the Valhalla concept car brought to production reality as an extraordinary, truly driver-focused mid-engined hybrid supercar.
 
Led by Aston Martin’s CEO, Tobias Moers, Valhalla is the latest and most significant product of the brand’s Project Horizon strategy to-date; a car which will broaden the model portfolio to reflect Aston Martin’s presence in Formula One®, set best-in-class standards for performance, dynamics and driving pleasure, and drive the transition from internal combustion to hybrid to full electric powertrains.

The InsideHook website explained how the car unveiled this week is different.

Aston Martin is now calling the Valhalla a “supercar,” not a “hypercar,” and while they don’t explain the downgrade, there are a few obvious reasons for it. As Car and Driver explained, the car was originally supposed to be limited to 500 examples, but now it will be the brand’s first series production mid-engine supercar. Rarity is a must for hypercar status.

Among other thing, the basic design has changed and the car has a different engine. The projected price now is below $1 million when it goes on sale in 2023.

No Time to Die was filmed in 2019 but has been on hold because of COVID-19. In the past two years, Aston Martin has installed new management. As a result, the Valhalla featured in No Time to Die won’t be the same one buyers will get, according to InsideHook.

The Carfection channel on YouTube had a preview of the new, improved Valhalla:

Aston Martin gets its 1st F-1 podium in a Bond setting

Aston Martin achieved its first podium finish today in Formula One. Appropriately, it took place in a James Bond film setting, although not one of the usual suspects.

Sebastian Vettel, driver for Aston Martin’s F-1 team, finished second in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, held on the streets of Baku. The race was stopped with a few laps to go and a restart took place.

For the uninitiated, the top three finishers appear on the podium where they proceed to spray champagne on each other. The winner was Sergio Perez of the Red Bull team.

F-1’s most famous street race is the Monaco Grand Prix, an event held since 1929.

Still, Aston Martin is a brand associated with Bond and Azerbaijan was a setting for 1999’s The World Is Not Enough. (Even if the main Bond car was a BMW in that film.)

Here’s a tweet Aston Martin posted about today’s race.

Aston Martin unveils its F-1 team

Aston Martin introduced its Formula One team today. Aston has been an engine supplier for the global racing series. Now an F-1 team has been rebranded with the Aston name.

Aston is known as James Bond’s preferred ride, starting with 1964’s Goldfinger. In real life, the company has had its struggles. The F-1 initiative is important to the U.K.-based maker of expensive sports cars.

Aston had a livestream about F-1. (Hopefully that link will go to a replay later.) Gemma Arterton, who played Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace, acted as host. Meanwhile, here’s a promotional video:

UPDATE: Aston Martin also released a video of Daniel Craig singing the praises of Aston.

Update: Things not looking good for Bond’s ride

Things continue to look bleak for Aston Martin, the preferred ride for the cinematic James Bond.

Earlier this week, Daimler AG’s Mercedes Benz took a 20 percent stake in Aston Martin, as noted by multple outlets including the BBC. Mercedes is boosting its stake from 5 percent.

The maker of British luxury sports cars earlier this year saw Lawrence Stoll, owner of a Formula One team, take a majority stake.

Under the deal with Mercedes, Aston will get access to Mercedes electric-car technology.

Meanwhile, Aston also has boosted the yield on a $1.1 billion junk-bond (no pun intended) sale to about 10.5 percent, according to Reuters.

Translation: Aston is viewed as a risky bet, meaning it has to pay higher interest on its borrowings even while interest rates generally are low.

Aston was owned by Ford Motor Co. from 1987 to 2007. The company has had its share of ups and downs (mostly downs) ever since.

Aston has been part of the Bond film series since 1964’s Goldfinger. There will be multiple Aston models in No Time to Die (whenever it comes out).

Aston Martin introduces 2 No Time to Die cars

Aston Martin’s two limited-edition models for No Time to Die

Aston Martin is bringing out two limited-edition special models because of No Time to Die.

The U.K.-based company said it’s introducing the following:

–The “Vantage 007 Edition, inspired by the original Aston Martin V8 which made its 007 debut in The Living Daylights in 1987 and also features in No Time to Die.”

Recommended retail price: £161,000 (about $211,000).

— The DBS Superleggera, which is “limited to just 25 production cars available worldwide and featuring the same specification as the muscular DBS Superleggera featured in the upcoming film, the car has a suitably menacing road presence.”

Recommended retail price: £279,025 (about $365,700).

Both are available for purchase beginning today. Deliveries will begin in the first quarter of 2021. No Time to Die is scheduled to reach theaters in November.

Another inexpensive gift from the 007 Store

Maud Adams in an Octopussy publicity still.

The 007 Store has another inexpensive gift: A replica Octopussy robe like the one Maud Adams wore in the 1983 James Bond film.

Seven, or 007, of the silk robes are for sale. The price: 949 British pounds, or a tick under $1,200, each.

Here’s a description from the website:

This unique collectors’ piece is a recreation of the iconic silk robe worn by Octopussy in Bond’s thirteenth film adventure. Just seven robes have been handmade exclusively for us by luxury loungewear experts MENG, following the original design in the Bond Archive. Each robe is beautifully boxed and comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity from Eon Productions.

This is the latest in a line of pricey 007 products. Aston Martin is selling replica DB5 cars for about $3.5 million complete with gadgets (but not legal to drive on public streets or roads). Aston announced two years ago it would build up to 25 of the cars.

Last year, Neiman Marcus offered seven “stocking stuffers” of a $700,007 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera cars “designed by 007 himself” Daniel Craig, complete with a limited-edition Omega watch and tickets to the No Time to Die premiere.

UPDATE (July 8): According to the 007 Store, all seven Octopussy robes sold out.

Aston Martin deflects current crisis with 2-year-old news

Aston Martin playbook? Play up your connection to the 007 film series. 

Aston Martin, amid a plunging stock price, falling sales and many other challenges, dumped its CEO and selected a replacement. How do you deflect bad news?

If you’re Aston, play up two-year-old news and your connection to the James Bond film series.

Aston said in August 2018 that it planned to build 25 replica DB5 cars complete with gadgets from Goldfinger The cost: (in U.S. dollars) $3.5 million each.

Warning: The cars were not “road legal” (or “street legal” as the term is used in the United States).

Regardless, Aston said deliveries wouldn’t take place until 2020.

Flash forward to late spring of 2020, Aston Martin has gotten a new CEO. After years of saying it needed to diversify from James Bond, Aston is as tethered to Bond as ever.

How do you get out of this?

Play up your Bond connections. Again.

The New York Times bit in a May 25 story. So did the Hindustan Times in a May 28 story.

The Times’ story referenced how Chris Corbould, who has worked on special effects for many Bond films, was involved in the project. But, that wasn’t news, either. An August 2018 release by Eon Productions mentioned how Corbould was involved in the project.

Safe to say, Aston Martin has many challenges ahead. But the 25 DB5 replicas aren’t going to save the company.

Aston Martin replaces CEO

Daniel Craig and Aston Martin DB5 in a Skyfall publicity sill

Aston Martin, the British maker of luxury cars associated with James Bond films, said today it’s replacing its chief executive officer.

The new CEO will be Tobias Moers, 54, currently head of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance arm. He will join Aston on Aug. 1.

Moers replaces Andy Palmer, who joined Aston as CEO in 2014 from Nissan Motor Co.

Keith Stanton, currently vice president and chief manufacturing operations officer, will serve as interim CEO until Moers’ arrival.

Aston has experienced a series of challenges, including losses and a plunging stock price.

Lawrence Stroll, a Canadian billionaire, was the lead investor in a financial rescue of Aston Martin that took place in January. Stroll is executive chairman of Aston.

Over the past several years, Aston has talked about the need to diversify and be more than James Bond’s favored ride. But the company still finds itself dependent on its association with Bond. Aston provided multiple vehicles for No Time to Die.

Palmer took to Twitter to say good-bye.

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Aston Martin to undergo management shakeup, FT says

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5.

Aston Martin, the British maker of luxury sports cars, will see a management shakeup, the Financial Times reported.

Current CEO Andy Palmer will depart the company and be replaced by Tobias Moers, the head of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance arm, the FT said, citing two people familiar with the plans it didn’t identify.

Aston Martin was sold by Ford Motor Co. in 2007 and has run into a series of financial challenges since. The company is best known for its association with the James Bond film series produced by Eon Productions.

The announcement of the change is scheduled for Tuesday, the FT said.

Peter Campbell, the FT writer who did the story, said on Twitter that Aston Martin later issued a statement that it “confirms that it is reviewing its management team and a further announcement will be made as and when appropriate”.”

Palmer joined Aston as CEO in 2014 from Nissan Motor Co. Earlier this year, Lawrence Stroll, described by the FT as “a Canadian billionaire with a background in motor racing and luxury fashion labels,” led a financial rescue of Aston Martin.

A variety of Aston Martin models, including replicas of the DB5, will appear in No Tie to Die. The company has been part of the Bond series since the original DB5 was in 1964’s Goldfinger.

Secrets of the Aston Martin DB5 replicas revealed

A replica Aston Martin DB5 rolls off the truck in preparation for Bond 25 filming

Earlier this month, Aston Martin invited writers to have a look at its No Time to Die fleet, including information about the DB5 replicas featured in No Time to Die.

Both Esquire and the PistonHeads website did writeups. Previously, the blog has taken shots from some readers for referring to the DB5s in the movie as replicas. But the articles make clear there are key differences between the replicas Aston Martin made for the film and the original DB5s made in the 1960s.

Why replicas were needed: Bond’s DB5 was going to be involved in a lot of stunt driving. Having actual DB5s, more than a half-century old, perform the task was too risky.

Esquire: “(T)he biggest challenge of all for Aston Martin came when Eon requested no less than 8 dynamic original DB5s capable of extreme stunts, including the Matera chase seen in the trailer, plus another unrevealed sequence… it soon became clear to the Aston team that the original DB5 simply couldn’t handle the demands of such a shoot, when cars need to deliver on cue, again and again. Any mechanical issue would hold up production and given the intensity of the driving, it was far too risky.”

How the replicas vary from the original: They may be hard to spot at a distance, but there are differences.

PistonHeads: The replicas included “roll cages, hydraulic handbrakes and fire extinguishers.”

But that’s not all. Again from PistonHeads: “The radiator grille of the replica comes fractionally further forwards, the bezels around its headlights are different, the silver strips down the front wing vents are fractionally longer and it also has guttering, something the original car is missing. You’ll also notice the windscreen doesn’t quite fit at the edges. From the outside and ten feet away, though, the only obvious difference – visible only from some angles – is the presence of a hefty roll cage in the stunt car.”

Esquire also provided this detail of the manufacturing process of the replica cars. “They (the Aston team) began by laser-scanning an original DB5 which the design team then smoothed off to make it symmetrical (because a 60 year-old hand made car simply isn’t).”

No time to lie: PistonHeads, referring to the DB5 replica, said an Aston representative refused “to say where the powertrain has been donated from.”

Aston Martin might want to consult with star Daniel Craig. (You know, the Daniel Craig who supposedly designed one of your cars.) In June 2019, Craig told Prince Charles the replica has a BMW engine. It begins around the 1:50 mark of this video. He also told the prince how the replica cars have carbon fiber bodies and new suspension components.