The real-life Q is quite different to the one you see on the big screen. He seems less absent-minded and eccentric, for a start. And, as far as we can tell, his pens don’t contain any explosive devices. Yet Simon Lane, in his role as head of Aston Martin’s Q bespoke division, is in charge of developing cars as creative, bold and deceiving as anything MI6’s Quartermaster might produce.
Having long offered a customisation service through the Works Tailored arm run from its Newport Pagnell plant, Aston launched the expanded Q division at its Gaydon base in 2012 with a licence to produce highly modified and bespoke models as demanded by its most loyal customers.
Most premium car makers have similar operations, but what Lane believes sets Q apart is a more fun approach, as its name hints. “I like to think we push the boundaries more than our competitors in terms of what’s possible,” he says. “And that goes right up to building bespoke one-off cars.”
Q has three main offerings. Q Collection offers special parts and options for standard Aston models. Q Commission gives customers more freedom in terms of customising their cars, with a focus on colour and trim. The pinnacle, and you suspect the service that James Bond would head straight for, is Q Advanced Operations.
Lane says this is for customers “who don’t want anything on the menu and want to do something completely different”. That can range from non-standard powertrains and bodywork to fully customised cars.
To demonstrate what Q is capable of, we staged a top-secret mission to bring together five of its finest creations and asked Lane to showcase their highlights.
A tribute to the 1999 Aston Vantage V600 (one of world’s most powerful production cars at the time), this 2018 special edition based on the previous-generation Vantage was the result of a commission from a single customer.