Aston Martin is known as one of the bastions of British manufacturing and their iconic designs have been making waves in the world of motoring for more than 100 years. Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford were selling cars together when they came up with a plan to make their own cars instead, although initial production was delayed by the outbreak of the First World War.
Their initial designs were focused on speed as they wanted to produce a car that could win the French Grand Prix. They achieved sensational success, setting world records for speed and endurance with vehicles that were built to expertly conceived specifications.
Although the company has changed hands several times since then, the design principles that saw them burst onto the motoring scene in the early 20th century have been preserved. Aston Martins are still manufactured to the very highest standards, and the company’s reputation for producing iconic cars has been firmly established.
The Aston Martin DB5
As the name suggests, the DB5 is one in a series of cars whose names reference the owner of the company at the time, David Brown. The car that has been retrospectively named the DB1 was first sold in 1948 after being shown at the London Motor Show, but only fifteen were ever actually purchased.
As the designs were refined and developed, subsequent versions demonstrated the advances in manufacturing technology and the evolution of our understanding of aerodynamics. Each version had its own signature elements, but it was when the DB5 was featured in the James Bond film Goldfinger that Aston Martin truly became a household name.
Its debut on the silver screen was such a success that the DB5 was used in another six Bond films, cementing the association between the two. The super smooth image of James Bond taking on opponents in the famous poker scene of Casino Royale, is an appealing showdown for all hardcore poker enthusiasts and poker muggles as it makes it believable and helps capture what the epic card game is all about, mastering the art of spotting tails and outwitting your opponent.
Overall, the glamorous world of James Bond and the sleek lines of the DB5 worked together perfectly, and the luxury car brand served only to enhance the image of the secret agent as a man of exquisite taste. Although he wouldn’t have won any prizes for being unobtrusive, a car chase in a DB5 is aesthetically pleasing as well as exciting.
The DB5 included some updates to the previous DB4 model which made it even more appealing to fans of both form and function. The engine was made from aluminium and was upgraded from 3.7 litres to 4 and a new five-speed transmission made by the ZF Group was also installed.
The engine included SU carburettors and could manage 282 brake horse power at speeds of up to 145 miles per hour. As well as the engineering underneath the bonnet, there were high expectations of the exterior design of the DB5, so it was no surprise that it featured a range of high-end elements, particularly for 1963, including:
- Reclining seats
- Electric windows
- Full leather trim
- Chrome wire wheels
- Magnesium alloy body
- Wool carpets
The look of the DB5 contributed hugely to its reputation, not only because of its association with the James Bond brand, but also on its own merits. Aston Martins combine the smooth lines of a race car with the elegant design of a luxury vehicle without sacrificing either.
Aston Martins In Popular Culture
Its close association with James Bond has given the DB5 an iconic status, but it isn’t just the films that forged that link between Aston Martins and luxury motoring. The original novels by Ian Fleming included references to earlier Aston Martin models including the DB Mark III which Bond is said to have chosen for its in-built features as well as Fleming’s added gadgets.
This idea was capitalised upon for the Bond films and his cars were always well-equipped with a range of useful options including:
- Revolving number plates
- Bulletproof windows
- Tyre slashers
- Oil slicks
- Smoke screen
- Machine guns
- Ejector seat
The all-round appeal of the Aston Martin has earned it a place in other areas of popular culture, including a mention in Eminem’s song ‘Lighters’ in which the rapper claims his car parks itself and autotunes. The idea of a car that’s designed to meet its owner’s needs perfectly with customised gadgets has become inextricably linked with the Aston Martin.
The legacy of James Bond’s car chases also prevails in the film industry and Aston Martins are often used in films such as the recent Mark Wahlberg hit ‘Infinite’. At one point, a reinforced Vantage smashes through a wall and jumps a police cruiser to rescue Mark Wahlberg’s character, and later in the film what appears to be a modified Lagonda Vision Concept appears as well.
The DB9 is one of the many cars featured in Furious 7, of The Fast and the Furious franchise although it is destroyed in a crash with a Dodge Charger shortly after its first appearance on screen.
From its association with James Bond to the quintessential Britishness of a car whose design can be traced back more than a century, Aston Martin’s global reputation online is well-deserved. The brand has always maintained the high standards and quest for excellence that made their cars so famous but the DB5 is still many motoring fans’ dream car to this day.