Aston Martin confirms B25 lineup; Prince Charles visits

Publicity still for Aston Martin Valhalla

Aston Martin announced on Twitter that three of its cars, including the new Valhalla supercar, will be in Bond 25.

Aston Martin DB5, Aston Martin V8 and Aston Martin Valhalla will star in Bond 25, the latest instalment in the @007 franchise,” the company said in a post on Twitter.

The post confirmed a story earlier this week at This Is Money, part of the Daily Mail, that the cars would be in the film. Andy Palmer, the CEO of Aston Martin, had retweeted a Twitter post from Ray Massey who had written the This Is Money story. 

The DB5 isn’t much of a surprise. James Bond and Madeline Swann drove off in the DB5 at the end of SPECTRE. The 1980s vintage V8 had been spotted during filming in Norway.

However, in March, the Sun tabloid reported that the Aston Martin Raptide E electric car would be in the movie. That story was picked up widely by other outlets.

Instead, the film is getting the Valhalla. It was described in an Aston Martin press release this week as being “propelled by a combination of high-efficiency, high-output turbocharged V6 petrol engine and battery-electric hybrid system.”

For the announcement, Aston Martin had a photo of Prince Charles and 007 actor Daniel Craig. The latter is no longer wearing a cast after suffering an injury earlier during Bond 25 filming.

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UPDATE (1:40 p.m. New York time): The Daily Mail had a ringside seat and produced a story about Prince Charles’s visit to Pinewood Studios to meet the Bond 25 cast and director Cary Fukunaga.

UPDATE II (1:55 p.m. New York time): The Royal Family Channel posts a video of the visit of Prince Charles to Pinewood

Behind the scenes with the replica Aston Martin DB5s

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

Aston Martin has come out with a video providing a peek concerning how it is producing 25 replica DB5 sports cars like the one Sean Connery drove in Goldfinger.

Chris Corbould, a long-time special effects creator on Bond films, is involved in installing the gadgets. Based on the video, it appears to the smoke screen and other extras will be a little more sophisticated than the ones John Stears installed in the Goldfinger DB5.

Just a reminder The replicas won’t come cheap. They’re priced at 2.75 million British pounds ($3.56 million at current exchange rates) each. Deliveries will begin in 2020.

And one more thing. They won’t be street legal (or road legal as Aston Martin phrased it in an August 2018 press release).

You can view the video below.

About that 007 driving an EV thing

Powertrain of an Aston Martin Raptide E

The British tabloid The Sun caused a stir this week with a story saying that James Bond will drive an all-electric Aston Marton Raptide E in Bond 25

Being a tabloid, the phrasing was provocative.

The £250,000 Rapide E is the Brit motor manufacturer’s first electric vehicle and only 155 are being built.

An insider said: “The decision was spearheaded by the film’s new director, who’s a total tree-hugger.

“He is working directly with Aston Martin to get one of their electric cars ready for its big close-up.he £250,000 Rapide E is the Brit motor manufacturer’s first electric vehicle and only 155 are being built.

(snip)
“Everybody is afraid of Bond getting labelled ‘too PC’ but they all felt the time was right to put him in a zero emission vehicle.” (emphasis added)

The thing is, if you’re going to keep “timeshifting” a character created in the early 1950s by Ian Fleming, Bond has to confront the world the way it is now. Needless to say the world has changed when Fleming was writing Casino Royale in early 1952 in Jamaica.

Specifically, it’s not just “tree huggers” who are causing the auto industry to develop electric vehicles.

China, the world’s largest automotive market and a country with severe pollution problems, is more or less forcing the industry to make more electric vehicles. Here’s the opening to a 2018 story published by Bloomberg Businessweek:

The world’s biggest market for electric vehicles wants to get even bigger, so it’s giving automakers what amounts to an ultimatum. Starting in January, all major manufacturers operating in China—from global giants Toyota Motor and General Motors to domestic players BYD and BAIC Motor—have to meet minimum requirements there for producing new-energy vehicles, or NEVs (plug-in hybrids, pure-battery electrics, and fuel-cell autos). A complex government equation requires that a sizable portion of their production or imports must be green in 2019, with escalating goals thereafter.

In other words, if you want to sell cars and trucks in China, you’d better have electric offerings. Regulators in Europe are also pushing “cleaner” vehicles. The U.S. is the one major market where the government want to ease up fuel-economy and vehicle-emission standards.

To be sure, it’s unclear how fast EV expansion will happen. Regardless, EVs are a fact of life. So it’s not crazy that Bond 25 would reflect this. This post isn’t an endorsement of The Sun’s story. It remains to be seen how accurate that story is.

However, Bond driving a fast EV in the 21st century isn’t a fantasy. We’ll see what happens.

Aston Martin to be in Bond 25, CEO says

Daniel Craig and Aston Martin DB5 in a Skyfall publicity sill

Aston Martin will be involved with Bond 25, the company’s CEO told CNN.

The executive, Andy Palmer, apparently was interviewed for the world feed of the news network. The CNN interviewer, Anna Stewart, posted an excerpt on her Instagram account.

“I can confirm that Aston Martin will be collaborating in the next chapter of Bond,” Palmer said in the video excerpt. “So take read from that what you will.”

There have been stories, including one in the Financial Times, that an executive of Lotus, Phil Popham, said he’d like to see his company reunite with 007.

Lotus figured in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), where the car supposedly converted into a submarine, and For Your Eyes Only (1981). Aston’s history with the 007 film series goes back to 1964’s Goldfinger.

Aston Martin became a publicly traded company this week.

“The share price fall on Wednesday left the 105-year-old firm, James Bond’s favourite car marque, with a market value of just above £4bn, sharply lower than its initial hopes for a price tag of over £5bn,” according to a story in The Guardian.

About that whole James Bond-Aston Martin thing

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

One wonders what Ian Fleming would have thought about the love affair between the James Bond films and Aston Martin.

In the Goldfinger novel, Bond had a choice between the Aston Martin DB3 or a Jaguar for use as a cover as “a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life.” He chose the Aston.

By the time Goldfinger was adapted by Eon Productions in 1964, Bond drove a government-issued DB5, complete with an elector seat, machine guns, oil slick and other extras. Bond films were never the same again. The cinematic Bond, despite some breaks here and there, has been driving Aston Martins frequently since.

Indeed, the DB5 has shown up in a number of films since 1995’s Goldfinger, including 2015’s SPECTRE where he drove it at the end of the movie.

In the novels, Bond was a civil servant who lived relatively modestly (although he could afford a housekeeper). But Aston Martin isn’t concerned about the middle class.

Latest example: The announcement that Aston Martin will build 25 replica DB5s at a price of 2.75 million British pounds each. The cars, though, won’t be street legal, according to a separate Aston Martin statement.

The replicas are supposed to come with Bond gadgets. The literary Bond might burn through a year’s salary (inflation adjusted) just paying for the insurance and maintenance bills. Then again, the 007 movies have glossed over, or simply ignored, other aspects of Fleming’s novels.

At the same time, Aston Martin has its issues as well. It’s a bit of an orphan in the automotive world. For 30 years, it was part of Ford Motor Co. But Ford had to sell it off in 2007 amid financial troubles.

As a result, Aston swims in an ocean of automotive sharks. The auto industry is a bit unsettled these days. Even the giants aren’t exactly sure what’s going to happen next in an era of self-driving cars and ride-sharing services.

In 2014, Adweek wrote about how Aston’s connection to the 007 films didn’t really help sales because the company sold so few cars. For a time, Aston was talking about the need to diversify from James Bond. In stories such as a 2016 article in Marketing Week, company executives said they relied too much on the 007 image.

That was then, this is now. Besides making DB5 replicas, the carmaker last month was part of a pact to sell pricey (129.99 British pounds) Lego versions of the 007 DB5. If Aston Martin is diversifying from Bond, it doesn’t much look like it.

The Bond marriage with Aston Martin continues, even if the literary 007 couldn’t afford the products that marriage produces.

Aston Martin to make (expensive) DB5 replicas

A model describes the Aston Martin DB5 at the 2013 Detroit auto show.

Aston Martin plans to produce 25 expensive replica DB5 cars with some gadgets, according to an announcement by the car company and Eon Productions today.

(UPDATE, Aug. 21: Aston Martin’s separate press release has a key detail. The cars won’t be street legal.)

The cars “will be authentic reproductions of the DB5 seen on screen, with some sympathetic modifications to ensure the highest levels of build quality and reliability,” according the Eon statement.

“This authenticity will extend to include functioning gadgets, such as revolving number plates, which were made famous in GOLDFINGER.” Chris Corbould, a special effects supervisor on several Bond films, helped develop the gadgets for the replicas.

The replicas won’t come cheap. They’re priced at 2.75 million British pounds ($3.51 million) each. They won’t be ready very quickly, either. Deliveries will begin in 2020.

In July, Eon and Aston Martin announced a deal with Lego to sell Lego versions of the DB5 for 129.99 British pounds each.

Lego Aston Martin DB5 unveiled

Lego today unveiled its version of the James Bond Aston Martin DB5.

Lego conducted an event at a store in London. It also spread the word on social media, including a post on Twitter.

The Lego car has 1,295 pieces. It costs 129.99 British pounds, according to Gizmodo UK. That’s $169-plus at current exchange rates.

The Lego version of DB5 comes with ejector seat, radar tracker, rear bullet proof screen and front-wing machine guns.

Lego, Eon Productions and Aston Martin have been teasing the licensed product since mid-June. Images leaked earlier this month.

Not everyone was impressed. The Jaloponik website devoted to everything about cars declared July 5 that the DB5’s “handsome and elegant design, does not translate well in LEGO.”

Below is the tweet that Lego sent out this morning. It includes a video.

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UPDATE (1:30 p.m. New York Time): Here’s a video from the event at the Lego store in London this morning. Naomie Harris, who played Moneypenny in Skyfall and SPECTRE, was part of the festivities.