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.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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.

The No Time to Die hype train gets a full head of steam

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

The No Time to Die hype train is out of the station and is getting a full head of steam.

The latest example: The New York Times tells us that star Daniel Craig “helped design the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition he wears in the film. The watch is made of lightweight titanium and has what the brand describes as tropical brown detailing.”

Just a few months ago, Neiman Marcus offered for sale seven limited-edition Aston Martin cars (at $700,007 each) “designed by 007 himself, DANIEL CRAIG.”

Move over, Leonardo da Vinci (painter, sculptor, scientist, philosopher, engineer),  Michelango (sculptor, painter, architect, poet), Benjamin Franklin (inventor, writer, diplomat, a Founding Father of the United States).

Daniel Craig is the new Renaissance Man, according to the publicity buildup for the 25th James Bond film.

Craig knows watches. He knows cars. Just look at the press releases and announcements.

All of this on top of being the best James Bond actor ever (Eon boss Barbara Broccoli during a December 2017 podcast with The Hollywood Reporter and No Time to Die Director Cary Fukunaga during an April publicity event in Jamaica.)

For a time, No Time to Die seemed to quiet on the publicity front. Clearly, that’s not the case now.

UPDATE (1:36 p.m., Feb. 20): Add stunt coordination to Daniel Craig’s Renaissance Man credentials. In a story by Esquire, there’s this passage:

“Integral to the shoot was Daniel Craig’s stunt driver Mark Higgins. He’s been working on Bond since Quantum of Solace, and it’s him razzing the stunt DB5 along the cobbles of Matera and doing the machine gun donut at the end of the trailer. A move he actually gives joint credit to none other than Daniel Craig himself.”

Aston Martin’s bailout and auto industry uncertainty

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

Aston Martin, the niche British sports car maker, this week got a bailout. But the preferred ride of the movie James Bond demonstrated just how unsettled the global auto industry is.

Aston Martin got a rescue valued at 500 million British pounds ($656 million) according to CNN.

Billionaire Lawrence Strollis leading a group that will pay 182 million pounds ($239 million) while Aston Martin will issue another 318 million pounds ($417 million).

However things turn out for Aston Martin, the U.K. company is a runt among global automakers. Meanwhile, much larger automakers with greater resources are confronting much uncertainty.

China, the world’s largest auto market, wants automakers to move away from the internal combustion engine that has powered cars and trucks since the start of the 20th century. The European Union is moving in a similar direction. The U.S. wants to ease regulations. It’s a very complicated situation for automakers.

On top of that, self-driving vehicles are supposed to be the next big thing in the auto industry. Making that practical will require billions of dollars in investment.

The global auto industry faces much uncertainty. Some familiar brand names may disappear as things shake out.

Still, there’s little argument that Aston Martin is struggling. Even automakers far larger than Aston Martin don’t really know what’s next.

Put another way, enjoy Aston Martin in No Time to Die. By the time Bond 26 comes out (whenever that is) the global auto industry may look a lot different than right now.

Aston Martin, film Bond’s favorite ride, faces new uncertainty

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

Aston Martin, the preferred ride for the film James Bond (not so much the literary version), isn’t having a good time. In fact, the maker of luxury-car makers faces a lot of uncertainty.

The Guardian, in a Jan. 7 report, said Aston Martin’s financial results are faltering.

James Bond’s favourite car marque is now predicting adjusted profits of between £130m and £140m for 2019 – almost half the £247m it made the previous year. Analysts had been forecasting profits of £196m. Over the first nine months of 2019, Aston Martin racked up a pretax loss of more than £92m.

But that’s not all.

The Financial Times (CLICK HERE to see a Bloomberg summary of the FT story) has reported that Geely, a Chinese automaker, is interested in acquiring a stake in the automaker. Here’s an excerpt of a Bloomberg summary of the FT story:

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. of China has held talks with management and investors in Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings Plc about taking a stake in the U.K. carmaker, the Financial Times reported.

(snip)

The company said last month it was in talks with potential investors, and this week showed the depth of its financial troubles by reporting a severe decline in profit in its first full year as a listed company.

Geely is conducting due diligence, the FT said Friday, citing unidentified sources. A technology partnership is also a potential outcome of talks, the British newspaper said.

Some perspective: Aston Martin is a runt in the global auto industry. It was owned by Ford Motor Co from 1987 to 2007. Ford was in the midst of a financial crisis in the 2000s and unloaded Aston Martin to a group of investors.

In 2008, Ford sold Jaguar and Land Rover to India’s Tata Motors. Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover have all figured into James Bond films after Ford divested them.

Regardless, Aston Martin figures into the Bond film series since 1964’s Goldfinger.

Periodically, Aston Martin talks about diversifying from James Bond. No luck, so far. Four (or so) Aston models, past and present, will be in No Time to Die.

At best, Aston Martin faces an uncertain future.

UPDATE (Jan. 11): An outlet called Autocar, in a Jan. 10 story, reported that Aston Martin won’t proceed with a production version of its Raptide E electric car. Instead, the vehicle will become a “research project” for further Aston electrification efforts.

At one time, the Raptide E reportedly was going to be in No Time to Die but that didn’t happen.

Ford v Ferrari’s odd James Bond reference

Henry Ford II (1917-1987) in front of portraits of his father, Edsel Ford (1893-1943) and grandfather Henry Ford (1863-1947).

Obviously, this is a spoiler for Ford v Ferrari.

This weekend, the top box office movie in the U.S. is Ford v Ferrari, a depiction of how Ford beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in the 1960s. It also has a peculiar James Bond reference.

Early in the film, Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) is trying to persuade Ford Motor Co. boss Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) to get involved in international auto racing to boost the company’s image.

As part of Iacocca’s presentation he shows two slides of Sean Connery as James Bond — one a publicity photo for Goldfinger of Connery with the Aston Martin DB5, the other a still from Thunderball. “James Bond doesn’t drive a Ford,” Iacocca says.

“That’s because he’s a degenerate,” Henry Ford II, aka “Hank the Deuce,” scoffs.

This is a little odd for a few reasons.

In Goldfinger, Ford already supplied a fleet of vehicles. Ford Motor wouldn’t own Aston Martin until 1987. But the movie was the movie debut of the Ford Mustang (driven by Tilly in Switzerland).

The film also had a Lincoln Continental (crushed with the body of Mr. Solo inside), a Ford Thunderbird (with Felix Leiter as a passenger) and a group of Ford trucks (driven to Fort Knox).

Ford’s presence was even more prominent in Thunderball.

There was another Thunderbird (driven by Largo to SPECTRE headdquarters in Paris), two Lincoln Continentals, a Ford Fairlane (driven by Count Lippe when he meets his demise via rockets fired by Fiona Volpe) and another Mustang (driven by Fiona when she picks up a hitchhiking Bond).

On top of all that, Henry Ford II himself was an extra in the movie during the Nassau casino sequence, according to The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin. The auto executive’s fee was $35, according to that book.

Also, if anything, Bond and Henry Ford II should have been kindred spirits. Here’s a short passage from an obituary about Henry Ford II by the Los Angeles Times.

He was the international playboy who did as he liked, starring in the jet set gossip columns and making headlines as master of revels at famous watering holes in the Bahamas, Mexico and the Riviera.

“Never complain, never explain,” he said when questioned about a 1975 peccadillo.

Ford Motor had a long, on-and-off relationship with the Bond film series. Other Bond films with Ford vehicles include On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Three brands formerly owned by Ford, Aston Martin (sold in 2007) and Jaguar and Land Rover (sold in 2008) continue to appear in the series.

Aston Martin’s bumpy ride

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5. But more recently, Aston has had a bumpy ride.

Thanks to the James Bond movies, the cars of Aston Martin are seen as a fantasy. In reality, the company has had a bumpy ride for a while.

Aston Martin’s financial results aren’t pretty. Business Matters via Barclays spells it out.

“The company said it made a £92.3m pre-tax loss for the first nine months of 2019 – £13.5m of that was recorded in the third quarter to 30 September. It had achieved profits of £24m in the same nine month period in 2018.

“Aston Martin said revenues fell 11% to £250m in the last quarter – led by a 16% decline in wholesale volumes.”

From 1987 until 2007, Aston Martin was part of a larger automaker, Ford Motor Co. But Ford, facing a financial mess, sold the luxury-car maker to a group of investors.

Ford later sold off other European luxury brands (Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo) while it got its financial house in order. Land Rover and Jaguar, under their current owners, India’s Tata, also supply vehicles to Bond films.

Aston Martin still is going it alone. One of its intangible assets is its image thanks to the Bond films. But that only goes so far.

In 2014, Adweek wrote about how Bond doesn’t translate directly into sales. In 2016, Aston executives told MarketingWeek the company was relying too much on Bond and needed to diversify.

Now, it’s 2019 and things haven’t changed much. Aston Martin is building 25 DB5 replicas with gadgets for $3.5 million each (or so). The company is tethered to Bond more than ever.

Multiple Aston models — past and present — will be included in No Time to Die. One will be the DB5 that was first seen in 1964’s Goldfinger. Except, it’s not a real DB5. It’s a replica with a carbon fiber body and a BMW engine.

Real life has a way of intruding on the fantasy.

No time to drive: Price appreciation of 007 cars

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

A study by 1st Move International looked at how prices have appreciated for various cars that appeared in James Bond movies.

At the top, not surprisingly, was the Aston Martin DB5, which was originally priced at 4,175 British pounds ($11,690 at the 1960s exchange rate of $2.80 to the pound), which now fetches 687,696 pounds (more than $883,786 at current exchange rates.

What follows is  sampling of other cars of note in British pounds. The data is as of Sept. 20.

Toyota 2000 GT (You Only Live Twice): 6,379 pounds originally, now 530,111 pounds.

Aston Martin DBS (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service): 4,473 pounds originally, now 214,950 pounds.

Lincoln Continental Convertible (Thunderball): 475 pounds originally, now 20,336 pounds

Chevrolet Impala Convertible (Live And Let Die): Almost 2,084 pounds originally, now 23,906 pounds.

Bentley Mark IV (From Russia With Love): 2.997 pounds originally, 29,500 pounds now.

Ford Mustang Mach 1 (Diamonds Are Forever): 2,883 pounds originally, 20,000 pounds now.

Sunbeam Alpine Series II (Dr. No): 985 pounds originally, 6,771 pounds now. 

Lincoln Mark VII (Licence to Kill) 8,041 pounds originally, 43,499 pounds now.

Lotus Esprit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me): 10,791 pounds originally, 39,999 pounds now. 

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Voltaire (The Living Daylights): 54,685 pounds originally, 150,000 pounds now. 

The study also analyzed car appreciation place by actor. Sean Connery cars, for example, averaged an appreciation of 7,134 percent. Timothy Dalton was at the low end at 208 percent. Daniel Craig films weigh in at 1,193 percent, which includes use of the DB5.

For more about the 1st Move International study, CLICK HERE.