I fight as hard as I can, but resistance is futile - the temptation is just too great. Not the impulse to shoot up Great Missenden with the DB5's twin simulated Browning machine-guns. I do feel the pang, especially when a doddery Micra pulled blindly out in front of me, but Aston has decided (probably wisely) to inhibit the car's many gadgets for the road driving part of the programme. Nope, my urge was more childish: to break into my not-very-finest Sean Connery accent while driving what is pretty much his car: "ejector sheat? You're joking..."
Anyone who has been paying attention to the story of the DB5 Goldfinger will have spotted the sizeable anomaly in the first paragraph - the very fact I was driving the car on road at all. From its first announcement Aston has been at pains to scrupulously add the proviso "please note, this car is not road legal" to every official release. But the prototype has indeed been registered, and both R-Reforged and RML are offering buyers of the Continuation Astons the chance to IVA and legalise them in the UK.
Now regarded as one of the greatest bits of product placement of all time, the DB5's scene-stealing cameo in Goldfinger nearly didn't happen. Ian Fleming's literary James Bond had always been a Bentley man and Aston regarded movies as being a bit common and beneath it. Once Fleming had written an Aston into the novel the company only reluctantly agreed to share a well-used prototype for filming. Then production designer Ken Adam's inspired decision to load the car with lethal gadgetry, a spectacular chase sequence and Sean Connery's effortless cool worked together to create a legend. One that was quickly developed further by the toy version of the car produced by Corgi, complete with bullet-proof screen, machine-guns and - of course - the ejector seat that propelled the plastic bad guy under the sofa.
Aston Martin Works boss Paul Spires admits the desire to effectively create a grown-up version of the Corgi toy played a significant role in the decision to make the Goldfinger replica as the third of his division's Continuation models. Because while the DB4 GT and DB4 GT Zagato continuations were near exact copies of originals given only the modifications they would need for historic motorsport, the Goldfinger would necessarily be substantially different: the gadgets used for filming were stage props that had to function once, those on the Continuation would have to work repeatedly. And be non-lethal, of course.
Oscar-winning special effects designer Chris Corbould - a veteran of 15 Bond films - led the team that created the various gadgets with Aston then working out how to integrate them neatly in the car. The result is a nearly full set, including a couple that didn't actually get used in the film itself: machine-guns that deploy from behind the front indicators, three-way rotating number plates, smoke screen and oil spray, a bullet proof shield that rises behind the rear windscreen, front and rear bumper rams. In the cabin is a radar screen behind a motorized cover (it shows where the car is on a map, but doesn't function as a satnav) and even the telephone in the door pocket that must have seemed more futuristic than anything else back in 1964.
There have, necessarily, been changes. The original Browning replicas fired pyrotechnic blanks, which wouldn't have been very practical and would also have sounded almost like real automatic gunfire, something which may have caused owners legal difficulties. The Continuation's barrels simulate fire with ultra-bright LEDs and a mechanized recoil action, but the loudspeaker soundtrack is deliberately subdued. The oil spray also fires out water, on the basis that buyers are unlikely to want the hassle of mopping up several litres of 10W/40 every time they use it. And also doing it for real is likely to kill anybody behind. One interesting detail, though - Spires says that the rear shield actually is bulletproof.
A couple of things are missing, too. The wheel mounted 'tyre slashers' were only ever bolted to the film car's rims and, as a real version would be obviously lethal, they come in a presentation box and can't be fitted. Sadly the ejector seat is also absent, the gear selector pops open to reveal a red button, but pressing it does nothing. The distinctive asymmetrical sunroof aperture is still present, though - if buyers choose to have it. Similarly, they can specify non-prototypical left-hand drive.
As well as the in-car controls the gadgets can also be operated through a remote-control box to allow owners to see them working. This is fun to do - especially watching the front indicators fold down and the guns gliding out. But as with the Corgi toy, the novelty of doing so repeatedly does wear off after a surprisingly short period of time. Which is where the appeal of a factory-fresh DB5 takes over.
With a mind to the car's limited athleticism, Aston had chosen a cross-country route between Works in Newport Pagnell and Stoke Park near Slough, where Bond's high-stakes golf game with Auric Goldfinger was filmed. Within a few minutes of starting to drive I've mostly forgotten about the toys and am just enjoying the experience of piloting a new-old Aston.
I got to drive an original DB5 at the same time as I had a go in the outrageous carbon-bodied stunt car built for 007's COVID-delayed 25th instalment, No Time To Die, back in February. That was exclusively on the Stowe circuit at Silverstone, an environment the period car quickly proved itself almost entirely unsuited for. The real world quickly proves to suit the Goldfinger prototype far better.
Accommodation is still tight, with the need to fit around the vast wooden-rimmed steering wheel and with the need for most of the available seat recline to stop my head from touching the roof. But the squashy seat proves to be surprisingly comfortable once I've settled into it, and there can't be many better views in driving than a full array of chrome-bezelled Smiths instruments in a 'sixties Aston. Narrow pillars and the wraparound windscreen make visibility excellent, and the wide-angled wing-mounted mirrors work surprisingly well for close-up stuff, although they can't see much that's closing at speed.
Yet with 290hp the rorty 4.0-litre engine is perfectly suited to a rapid road pace; the DB5 certainly wasn't holding anyone up. It's happiest in the meat of its mid-range, especially around the 3850rpm point where the peak 288lb-ft of torque gets delivered. Under part throttle the throaty noises made by the triple SU carb induction system and the snarly exhaust are also almost perfectly balanced. Late summer heat is making the cabin warm on the day of my drive, with more thermal energy coming from the engine. The feeble ventilation system doesn't do much to dispel the warmth, but opening the windows - the DB5 being a pioneer of electric operation - creates a useful draft without making the cabin noisy.
On the limit? I've absolutely no idea. My gentle trip through Buckinghamshire was unsullied by a pursuing pack of W120 Mercedes 180s and so there seemed like no obvious need to take the DB5 out of its comfort zone. Heavy, low-geared steering and the modest profile of the Avon Turbospeed tyres gives leisurely front-end reactions and a couple of stretches of dual carriageway revealed the Aston to be surprisingly crosswind sensitive. But the brakes felt impressively solid despite the odd action of the floor-hinged pedal and the all-synchro gearbox is impressively crisp and snappy considering how vague 'sixties changes often were. While it is undoubtedly capable of a fair bit more - Aston promised a very brave 145mph top speed in period - the DB5 is one of those cars that feels like a proper experience without ever transgressing a modern speed limit. At least, not by much.
Of course, the other attraction is seeing the reaction of other people to discovering such a celebrity in their midst. The distinctive Silver Birch colour was first applied to the original film car - chosen to work better on celluloid than a more traditional darker shade. Buyers were soon demanding to choose it, and many more were subsequently been repainted in it; these days non-Birch DB5s sometimes seem to be in a minority. The association with the world's least secret secret agent is so engrained that I'm not surprised to overhear two pedestrians talking as I wait at a junction in Wendover. "Look, it's James Bond's car." But this time they're absolutely right; especially when - on arriving at Stoke Park - I realise that the front numberplate has been turned by airflow from the official AML1 to the original show-only BMT 216A. Whoops.
Rational argument doesn't take you very far with a car like this, and it's not supposed to. Despite the often-cited "Bond tax" it is still possible to get an original DB5 for well under a million quid. The Goldfinger is £3.3m with VAT. So you could buy a period car and send it to AM Works for a factory-grade restoration and still emerge with more than enough change to add original examples of every other Bond Aston to the collection. But for those who have already signed contracts - and with Spires saying almost all the 25 limit is spoken for - that really isn't going to be an issue. Or even a consideration. And who wouldn't want to oil-slick their front drive, fill their ballroom with a smokescreen or fake machine-gun family and friends?
SPECIFICATION | ASTON MARTIN DB5 GOLDFINGER CONTINUATION
Engine: 3,995cc straight six
Transmission: 5-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 290@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 288@3,850rpm
0-62mph: 8.0 seconds
Top speed: 145mph
Weight: 1465kg (EU laden)
CO2: You can't be serious?
MPG: Shocking. Positively shocking
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