Look, we know as well as you - the creation from The Little Car Company that probably excites us all most is the Tamiya Wild One Max. It’ll be TLCC’s entry-level product, and in essence it’s a full-size R/C car, so ought to offer hours of fun. That’s coming, and it should be tremendous. For the moment, however, we have one more officially licensed build, following the Bugatti Baby II and Ferrari Testa Rossa J, an Aston Martin DB5 Volante.
While it’ll come as little surprise that the new Aston follows the template (by and large) laid out by the earlier models, the honey-I-shrunk-the-classic plan is working out just nicely. (Even if nothing quite says crazy rich like having a Bugatti mounted on your wall, as one customer has.) Still, business is booming at Bicester Heritage, with plenty of cars in build, a healthy order bank to get through and recruitment ongoing. What was once tiny team of enthusiasts now really resembles a, er, little car company. There were never this many forms to sign before. Or so many people.
Fittingly, the DB5 will be the most mass produced of all TLCC’s cars so far, the 1,059 mirroring the number of full-sized ones made. That’ll be split between standard models (with 8hp), the 13hp Vantage and the No Time To Die special edition. Our test prototype was the more power model (of course), carbon bodied and all, with 45mph potential.
However, it’s impossible to merely get in and drive off in a DB5 Junior. It’ll probably remain so for owners in years to come, too. The little Aston is just such a lovely object that it’s impossible to resist poring over every last detail before moving anywhere. Keeping these creations as mere static objects arguably does a disservice to the work that goes into them, but it’s easy to why you might. Or have one to drive and one to look at. It’s a tiny DB5 to a tee, which will be the benefit of 3D-scanning an original and then building it to two-thirds scale. (The Bugatti was 75 per cent scale.) Nothing is out of place or out of proportion; this is still one of Aston’s most beautiful cars, from its wire wheels to its Smiths dials, just in miniature. The only design anomaly, in fact, is the Aston wings blown up to 75 per cent rather than two-thirds scale. To these eyes it actually serves to make those on the original DB5 look too small for the metal around them, so is a useful change.
The interior is equally lovely, the leather here befitting of any luxury car and the dials - even ones for a battery and motor rather than straight six - setting the tone nicely. And the world’s smallest quick release wheel means getting in isn’t as tricky as it sounds, even if this sort of thing inevitably remains snug for those over six foot. But those of a more regular stature - or, you know, not actual adults - should have no problem at all. This Junior feels more accommodating and secure than the Bugatti Baby, dropping you further into the cabin, wrapping more body around you and feeling distinctly more car like. The fear of falling out has gone, thank goodness. And the impression of a more modern, less demanding car is there from the off.
As we’ve discussed before, some proper engineering effort goes into TLCC cars. It isn’t a case of making a pretty little homage and getting nice leather. The Junior features disc brakes from a Ducati bike, for example, with Brembo calipers, and the tyres are actually for an original Mini. Which says something about just how tiny that car was. The Vantage also gets a limited-slip diff as part of its upgrades.
Most crucially, though, the DB5 Junior is an absolute hoot to drive, chiefly because it can be assessed and enjoyed like a proper, front-engined, rear drive roadster. Lift off on the way into a bend and momentum will swing the tail around, which will need balancing; brake hard and late into a corner and the same thing happens. There’s even a tad of power oversteer for the very committed, though that’s probably best enjoyed on a slipperier surface than Bicester before there’s a family emergency. It feels quick, too, scooting up to 45mph or so with very little effort. Those too young to be on the road just yet will learn a lot about good car handling (and the sheer joy of being behind a wheel) from haring about in the DB5 for however long a charge can last - which said to be anything up to 40 miles. It’s faithful, trustworthy and fun like all the best cars of this layout.
If we are treating the DB5 like a proper car, though, it’s worth noting it isn’t quite perfect. The pics will hopefully indicate the big thing - if only a concern for the longer driver - the windscreen rail is in the worst place. You’re either scrunched up behind the screen or better off wearing a helmet and braving the breeze above it, which does spoil the fun a tad. Both steering and brakes aren’t quite there, either, like lock and stopping power are applied in stages through wheel and pedal rather than feeling progressive and linear. They’re easy to work around, because you tend to just lift off and lob it in for even the tighter turns, but do feel like areas that would benefit from additional development. Of course, because it’s fundamentally well sorted and rather fun, and you can guarantee somebody will want an even faster Vantage. And apparently the TLCC CEO Ben wants less grippy tyres available, too…
Now, even the most affordable TLCC creation (for now) doesn’t comer cheap. The £42k required for a standard DB5 Junior will buy a real-life Aston Martin; the £54,000 of a Vantage gets one to really, really cherish. Less than its Bugatti or Ferrari stablemates is still a lot to most folk for a plaything. But the very irrationality of a TLCC car is its considerable charm; those in the position to get one won’t fail to be impressed by the style, quality and sense of mischief. Even if they don’t really fit. Don’t be surprised to see the little outpost at Bicester grow much bigger as a result - and then it’ll be Tamiya time…
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