What’s that?” James Bond director Sam Mendes asked of a sketch on the studio wall of Aston Martin design chief Marek Reichman. He was pointing at an early drawing of the Aston Martin Vantage sports car replacement, not due until 2017 at the earliest.
No longer, though, for ‘that’ has now become the Aston Martin DB10, James Bond’s new car for the upcoming Spectre movie. It’s the first time that a car has been specifically created from scratch for a Bond film.
Mendes had come to Reichman’s design studio along with Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli from Bond film production company Eon in April 2014 to look at “what was cooking in the kitchen” of the Aston Martin design studio as a new Bond car was sought post-DBS and the destruction of his DB5 in the previous film, Skyfall.
Reichman had shown them everything he was working on and assumed that the team would go for the DB9 replacement (the DB11, due to be launched next year) as a replacement for Bond’s DBS. “They loved it,” Reichman told me of the DB11, “but then, as we turned to leave the design studio, Sam Mendes pointed at the sketch on the wall and said: ‘What’s that?’
“It was a sketch, but Sam loved it and instantly had a vision of it as an icon for Bond in the same way the DB5 was. It was exactly what he was thinking about for Bond in the movie, making him a little bit more naughty. He asked if we could make the sketch, and I said of course we could…”
The usual time taken to get from a sketch to a car finished to the DB10’s standard is around three years. After Eon commissioned the DB10 in April 2014, Aston handed over the first working example bang on time for the start of filming, just five months later in September. It was straight into action, taking on jumps on two-metre ramps.
In total, just 10 DB10s have been made, and there will never be another one. Six and a half of them have been left in various states of disrepair (two of them ending up in the Tiber river in Rome following mishaps during filming) after the kind of heavy filming workloads that you’d expect in an action movie where all the stunts are real.
Remaining are three ‘hero’ cars, one each to be kept by Eon and Aston and the other to be auctioned for charity for what will probably be a seven-figure sum.
Reichman says creating a car that was fully resolved in its design and engineering was a challenge not only because of the short time they had in which to do it, but also because it went against usual business instincts, given that it wasn’t destined for sale.
But he points to the fact that the DBS, Bond’s most recent car, was in fact the most successful Aston in history as proof that normal rationale doesn’t apply here.“How much of the DBS’s success can you put down to Bond? There’s no equation to it,” says Reichman. “It’s just a car that looks right, is exceptionally well proportioned, sophisticated and desirable. And James Bond drives it. We had it with DB5, now DBS, and that works for a lot of customers.”
The DB10 is underpinned by the firm’s current VH architecture rather than the next-generation one that is being readied for the DB11 onwards. It is longer thanthe current Vantage and has a longer wheelbase, and it uses the V8 Vantage’s 4.7-litre engine rather than the 5.9-litre V12 from elsewhere in the range.
It’s hooked up to a manual gearbox – Mendes wanted Bond to drive a manual – and the cabin in which he sits is much sportier and more driver focused than the current Vantage’s, a clue to the future interior direction of Aston’s sports cars.