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Casino Royale - DBS for 007

2014-04-04 Read: 629x

Aston Martin DBS 

On the 16th of January 2006, Aston Martin released very limited details of a new top of the range  sportscar. Very little was said about the new DBS at that time except that it will be driven by James Bond 007 in the forthcoming film Casino Royale scheduled for release in the November of the same year. The new James Bond actor, Daniel Craig, had visited the AM Gaydon factory on the 13th January 2006 and had a brief drive of a similar car, probably a DB9, as only the styling buck existed at that time. It was almost as if no-one would get to see the car at all until the release of the film. The only public image available at the time was a designers sketch.

Casino Royale

Then by surprise, AM released a few select pictures of the Bond car in early May 2006 but with virtually no technical details at all. The prototype workshop had pulled out all of the stops and delivered two working ‘hero’ cars to the film producers late in April 2006 that could be used in close-ups and for regular driving sequences. It was obvious that the DBS was closely based on the DB9 bodyshell but had a new front (with carbonfibre splitter) and rear boot lid spoiler and diffuser, deeper sills and more vents on the bonnet. The interior was covered in Alcantara and the DBS had a conventional manual gear change with the shift pattern illuminated; the six speed Graziano gearbox was from the V8 Vantage. The car was a strict two seater with space behind the seats to hold a race helmet, a fire extinguisher and a gun holder,  both features never intended for production cars. The DBS V12 also had side indicator repeaters in the wing vents and clear rear light clusters both as previewed on the Rapide concept

As well as the two ‘hero’ cars, AML had to prepare three former development DB9′s for use as DBS look-a-like stunt cars. The prototype DB9 manual was also supplied to the film crew so that the stunt drivers had something to practice with. The spectacular stunt involved the DBS swerving to avoid the Bond girl, Vesper Lynd, who was tied up and left on a country road at night in Montenegro. Initially the team practiced at Dunsfold Aerodrome near Guildford with battered BMW 5 series that when driven up a 12 inch ramp at 65 mph would barrel roll three of four times as intended.

The team moved on to the location of the shoot at the hill circuit at Millbrook proving ground in Bedfordshire. Practice continued with the manual DB9 but this proved more difficult to roll due to the stiff suspension and low centre of gravity, the DB9 refused to roll. For the first real take, the stunt DBS was driven at 70 mph upto a taller 18 inch ramp. but again, the car took off but landed back on all four wheels. As a back up, the team moved to the second of the stunt DBS and installed a nitrogen gas powered ram to punch the tarmac at the correct moment to start the car rolling. At a speed of 75 mph, the ram was deployed and the DBS started to roll. And it didn’t stop rolling until it had competed seven complete barrel rolls, a new Guinness World Record. The car landed back on it’s wheels and Adam Kirley, the driver walked away unharmed. The third stunt DBS was used a couple of weeks later at Millbrook for a bridging shot which became necessary so establish the start of the roll being due to a severe swerve rather than hitting the grass verge where the ramp was to be hidden.

Aston Martin have retained one of the hero cars and also the second DBS that achieved the world record for barrel rolls. They were both shown at the Kensington Palace Centenary Celebration during July 2013. The colour of the Bond cars was called ‘Casino Royale’ and became a standard DBS colour once production began later in 2007.

What was really odd was that Corgi, the British die-cast manufacturer, famous for the ever popular Goldfinger DB5, actually previewed their model DBS V12 at the British Toy Fair held in London during January 2006 – needless to say, pictures flew around the internet instantly. After al, the Corgi DB5 is one of the greatest toys of all time, the Corgi DBS V12 had a tough act to follow.

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