Ford chief Alan Mullally confirmed two important realities for Autocar at the Detroit motor show this week; while Aston Martin remains available to the highest bidder, Jaguar isn't, and that will probably mean a change of transportation for everyone's favourite international spy.
In an interview given to Autocar, Mullally said 'Jaguar has a good business plan and some quality products in the pipeline. The new XF is a terrific car built on an admirable heritage too. The company is in a tough situation, and I'll give no comment about selling it right now, but I remain very positive about it.'
'Aston Martin has made excellent progress over the last few years,' he went on 'and we're expecting to make an announcement about its future early this year.' However, Autocar's sources suggest that a buyer for the brand has already been found and a deal agreed, and the deal should be made public before the end of the winter.
Mullally's comments have implications for lovers of both brands, but for one Aston driver in particular – James Bond – they'll almost certainly mean a change of allegiance is in order.
Ford has the rights to supply Bond's hero car in the next Bond film as part of a $100m, three-movie deal that began with the 2002 film Die Another Day. In both that film, and the last Bond movie Casino Royale, Bond drove an Aston Martin, and the brand garnered massive international kudos as a result. However, if Aston is to be sold by parent company Ford this year, it's unlikely that he'll be in an Aston the next time he appears on the big screen this autumn – a date that, conveniently enough, coincides with the unveiling of the finished Jaguar S-type replacement.
Production of the next Bond film (the second for new Bond star Daniel Craig, and the last of Ford's current contract) starts this month, and the word from Bond experts is that he'll be driving the new Jaguar XF saloon, previewed at Detroit by the C-XF concept. Jaguar's the next best fit for Bond's British persona that Ford has; after all, the international man of mystery is unlikely to be at home in a Volvo, Mazda or a Lincoln. One of Land Rover's more exotic creations might be an outside bet, but an unfancied one by those in the know.
We put the question to a Jaguar spokesperson, who told us that he 'couldn't confirm it that this stage.' However, if and when the sale of Aston Martin is confirmed by Ford, expect the supply of 007's new motor to be among the first announcements Jaguar makes.