Bond special: how 007's amazing Aston Martin DB10 came to be
We interrogate AM design boss Marek Reichmann for the inside line
"Sam Mendes wanted this to be the poster car for every boy who watches James Bond for the first time," says Aston Martin design director Marek Reichman. He's discussing the conversation with Spectre director Mendes that led, eventually, to the DB10, Daniel Craig's company wheels in the 24th Bond outing.
"My interpretation of that was that Sam was talking about a brand-new DB5," continues Reichman in an exclusive chat with TG. The DB5, of course, was Sean Connery's ride in 1964's Goldfinger, a gadget-laden masterpiece that established the Bond-Aston love affair and remains, for many, the archetypal Bond car. But, says Reichman, the DB10 doesn't revive its predecessor's gadgetry, but rather its philosophy.
"The DB5 is pure, it's simple, it has a grille to die for. It's a scalpel not a kitchen knife. That's what Sam wanted, for this to be Bond's simple, pure Aston Martin, just like the original DB5 was."
To reinvent probably the most famous Aston - not to mention one of the most famous film cars - of all time. Not much of a challenge, eh? But, TG asks, this isn't a mere pastiche of the original - a la Fiat 500 - is it?
"Absolutely not," says Marek. "We don't do retro design. Sam said, ‘We don't want a parody, otherwise why not just get an original DB5?' This had to be modern and unique, the future generation of what the DB5 was..."
So what is the DB10? "The underpinnings are V8 Vantage," admits Reichman. "But it has a longer wheelbase than the V8, and an incredibly wide track, almost the width of the One-77. The engine is exactly as you might expect, a 4.7-litre V8... but maybe there's something there you won't expect."
Eh? TG asks Marek to elaborate. A long pause. "We want to focus on what James Bond's hands are doing. That may give you a hint..."
An automatic gearbox? Cruise control? TG assumes the unexpected element may be a little juicier than that. Marek, like any MI6 operative worth his salt, is giving away no details.
"When the car was unveiled by Sam, it was introduced as ‘the first member of the cast'. It has a big part to play in the story. It's going to do some things you might not expect."
Ooh, does that mean juicy gadgets, then? Rocket launchers? Hedgehog cannons? Another long, long pause. "I wish I could tell you," grins Reichman. "Let's just say... there's a relationship they [Bond and the DB10] have, and not in the way that he has a relationship with the Bond girls. That relationship becomes apparent in the movie..."
Best guesses below, TG.commers. Nothing smutty, if you will. Thankfully Reichman's rather less cryptic when explaining how the DB10 develops Aston's well-established design language.
"It has a very extended hood, with a short wheelbase. The cabin sits a long way back, and there's a very simple, elegant line that runs down the side of the car. It's a hard, sharp line."
He's particularly proud of the DB10's front end, a front end apparently inspired, in deliciously Bond-villain fashion, by frickin' SHARKS. "The grille doesn't sit on the upper surface in any way," Marek explains. "It's all on a negative surface, like a shark's face. This car has the lowest nose that we've ever produced."
TG cannot be alone in hoping for a scene in Spectre that sees Bond edging at 5mph down a speedbump-packed London street, wincing as that low, low nose skirts ever closer to sleeping policemen...
Anyhow. Does that sharky aesthetic, TG asks, reflects the darker side of Daniel Craig's Bond, the move from cheesy one-liners to tortured soul-searching since the 2006 franchise reboot in Casino Royale?
"Daniel's Bond is closer to the original, darker Bond," agrees Marek. "He's very much an athlete, and I wanted the car to have a similar appearance. It's a predator. I wanted this car to look like a hunter."
It's dark in a very literal sense, says Marek. "The grille is all in shadow. There's a darker feeling to the car. On the inside, it's very technical. It has a... not a sinister feeling, but a very machine-like feeling to it."
So why, if it's based on a V8 Vantage rather than a DB9, is this car called DB10? "Because it's a modern interpretation of DB5," explains Marek. "The association of Bond is with DB cars. The underpinnings of the Vantage are only there to create the car. It doesn't share the proportions. We have so little time to create the car, you have to use what's in your toolkit."
So it doesn't point to the styling of the DB9 successor, then? "It's very much a ten-off car for the movie," says Marek. "Of course we're going to take some influences from it, looking forward. Why wouldn't we? But it is a movie car, a new-from-the-ground-up car for James Bond that has the iconic association the original DB5 had with Connery. This becomes Daniel Craig's car."
Will any of those ten cars be for sale? Afraid not, says Marek. "They're solely for film use. Some may get destroyed. They'll be treated harshly, used in real stunts. When you see the car in the movie, it's not CGI. It's got a real driver in it. It's being pushed to its limits..."
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