There’s a moment in Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger when the villain departs in that yellow Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. The car ‘sighed away’. The Ghost was knocking on for 40 years old when Fleming was writing, and that was itself a further five decades ago. Yet that description, ‘sighed away’, is exactly what happens when you touch the throttle on a Phantom Coupe and notice that by imperceptible silent magic you’re underway, even though you couldn’t identify the moment when the static condition gave way to one of motion. The Phantom Coupé is a properly modern car, but there is a lot about Rolls-Royce that has never changed.
So we decided on a bit of play-acting. In the book, Bond chases Goldfinger to Geneva in an Aston DB3. In the 1964 film, the cars are updated to a Phantom III and a DB5. We’ve done our own bit of updating by going for the modern Phantom and a DB9. We start at the point where the freight plane landed at Le Touquet airport. Sorry, though, I have no intention of taking Bill to a torture chamber and threatening to slice him in two if he doesn’t spill the beans, and, as far as I know, he isn’t out to crack open my evil empire. We’re just out to enjoy the trip.
Words: Bill Thomas/Paul Horrell
Photography: Lee Brimble
This article was originally published in the Supercars issue of Top Gear magazine, 2010