Corgi 261 – The James Bond Aston Martin DB5
One of my earliest memories of growing up in 60’s suburbia was a fascination with cars – I remember giving my own names to them before I knew what the makes and models really were. A Ford Anglia was a ‘Smiling-Back-To-Front-Car’ according to my toddler logic (which seems no less convincing to me now actually) and a Morris Minor was a ‘Brenda Car’. Not that we knew anyone called Brenda - the car just seemed to be ‘saying’ it.
I had a collection of Corgi and Matchbox toys, many of which I seem to remember inheriting from our next door neighbour Ken Perry who was a few years older and had grown out of his. Sometime about 1966 or 67 I got the James Bond Aston Martin – Corgi 261: for many the crème de la crème of toy cars – although I can’t remember if I had mine from new or if it was one of Ken’s. It definitely had the baddie in the ejector seat included, so if it was his, Ken had been very careful not to lose him in one of his earlier carpet- or table-top- based missions.
Now….we are at the risk of edging dangerously towards Top Gear territory here I know – the model is such an icon that it’s inevitably been written about before – and not surprisingly James May has covered it in a piece here where he goes through lots of the nerd-magnet info you’d expect: that the car isn’t gold in the movie, the rear lights are not the correct shape etc.
For me at the time, of course, it was one of my favourite toys along with other gadget based, weapon-firing TV or film spin off merch like the Batmobile, the lesser known Green Hornet Limousine (I didn’t know the character but his car was excellent with a missile and a nifty spinning radar disc that flew out of the boot), and the brilliant Captain Scarlet vehicles. Two that I coveted and never got were the Monkeemobile the incredible Chitty Chitty Bang Bang model.
Bond, as a concept, wasn’t really any more significant to me that any of those others. I was aware of the movies, perhaps the music more so. I knew the films were sort of ‘sexy’, like the Carry On movies only more glamorous/serious. But of course in the wonderful synaesthesia of childhood the toys, movies, TV, sweets, music, school etc. all merge together somehow…... I could be casually zooming the golden DB5 across the carpet towards an absurdly small Stuka, pondering my deep love for Mrs Peel in the Avengers, and at the same time imagining the dark wardrobe world that Pink Floyd were spinning in my head as I listened to See Emily Play - which is one of the earliest records that really captured my imagination.
I didn’t want any of that to go away – the slightly surreal connections between all the things I loved - it did for a bit I suppose, as I got older, but in later years I’ve managed to get at least some of it back. I got seriously into model aircraft as an older kid, and later in my 20s and 30s rediscovered and honed that hobby into an all consuming obsession to fill the free time alongside my jobs playing in bands back then. I became fanatical about detail, colours, scale and accuracy (that bullet proof shield on the Bond DB5 would be totally impractical if it was full size you know. It would be about 4 inches thick and the tyres could never take the weight!). The smell of enamel paint or cranked-up Scalextric motors will always be linked to some of my favourite records and TV. The glint of a tiny jewelled headlamp can conjure up much more than just the movie the car was in.
I didn’t stick with Bond movies beyond the 70’s I must confess. But my love of cars never went away, and even the most mundane gadgetry in a real motor can give me almost as much of a thrill as those tyre slashers on the Bond DB5. As I hit mid-life I went through a few classics – I wasn’t quite as bad as Jamiroquai, and a real Aston Martin was never going to happen obviously – but after a series of questionable (blind) eBay purchases that I didn’t keep for very long, I’ve settled on something suited to my age, psyche and need for comfort. It’s not a Bond car. But it’s the exact car that Roger Moore drives in the movie he made three years before he first played 007 - The Man Who Haunted Himself……..
I chose The Man With The Golden Gun because it’s definitely one of the underdog ones (although this is now its second appearance in this project!!). As a song, people seem not to rate it much in the Bond canon, but it’s actually brilliant - that arrangement is really…..naughty sounding. And Lulu is cool. She was pretty great early on - I loved her version of The Boat That I Row as a kid - and at the time of this theme she was going through her Bowie collaboration too, so became even cooler to the likes of me at the time. If you think about it this tune does have a little Diamond Dogs-era Bowie drama about it, though I doubt John Barry and Don Black were thinking about that when they wrote it.
When I asked fellow Papernut alumni if they wanted to contribute anything to the track, I wasn’t quite expecting what Ralegh Long came up with – namely no music, but the offer to use some video footage from a spoof Bond movie called Blackeye that he and some friends had made when they were schoolboys. It’s the perfect thing, looks loads of fun, and it’s quite sobering now to realize that when they made this I was already the wrong side of 30 playing and touring with Death In Vegas, and probably not being any more grown up than they were!
Here’s a few words from Tom Kingsley, Blackeye’s director:
“This video is an extremely condensed version of an hour long James Bond film that some friends and I made in 1998, when we were twelve. It has about five minutes that are actually good, and fifty-five that are almost unbearable to watch. This edit makes it look a lot better than it really was. Blackeye was shot on the school camcorder, with the assistance of most of our year group, who enthusiastically died many times on camera. When an athletic French exchange student called Alexis came along in the summer term, we roped him in to doing a lot of extra stunts in the final showdown sequence. We shot the film in chronological order with a story that we made up as we went along, and so the film gets better and better towards the end, when *SPOILER* James Bond fails to stop Blofeld blowing up the entire planet.”