1964. That's the year that Aston Martin first started its love affair with James Bond movies. And since then, the partnership has flourished greatly. So much so that the brand is now synonymous with the fictitious English spy.
“What's interesting is that people who buy our cars, [associate James Bond] with the whole range,” Dan Balmer, general manager of global marketing for Aston Martin Lagonda, says. “They say Aston Martin is the Bond car. They buy a Vantage or a Vanquish, and those cars were never in [a Bond movie]. But what they think is, they're buying a Bond car. And that's what it is.”
Here for the launch of Aston Martin's new showroom in Singapore, as well as the unveiling of the DB10, its latest model made especially for the new 007 movie, Spectre, Balmer shares more about the car and what to expect in the film.
Aston Martin has always been associated with James Bond. What made the brand come on board with the 007 series?
There's always been this love affair. It's not a commercial discussion with the studios. With James Bond, there's almost a preconception that it has to be an Aston Martin. Obviously we're happy with that because it gives us a great platform to market our cars. [James Bond] has tried other cars in the past. But every time he's done that, the feedback from the public is that it has to be an Aston Martin. Even so, every time a new 007 film comes up, it's not a foregone conclusion that we're always in that film. This time around, we showed [one of the producers] Barbara Broccoli and the studios the new cars that we were working on in our design studio. And they fell in love with the idea of James Bond driving one of the cars that they saw. We were not planning to develop that car. It was just a drawing at that time. But we ended up developing the car just for the film. And that's how it came to be. And we're very happy with the results.
Did the movie producers work very closely with Aston Martin to design the car?
Yes, we showed them our drawing. And then we talked to their technical guys about how they wanted the car to be and the more practical things. One of the things discussed for the filming process is that the car we originally developed was too “grippy” for the road. They wanted it to be able to slide and skid. We design cars to hold the road but they changed the suspension and the tyres to make it easier to slide. There was a continuous discussion about how a car should behave and so on.
Who actually tested the car?
A stunt driver, Mark Higgins. He is a former rally driver. He's actually the one that drives most of the cars in the film. He drives it in the scenes where you can't see the driver, so he's usually the one doing the skids and the big drifts, and the rollovers etc.
Does this mean that the car sold to the public will be great for drifting in as well?
The DB10 is not to be sold at all. We only built 10 cars and that's it. So that design of the car, you'll not see again. There's no future production. You might see some familiar design features of the car. But we're not going to sell that car at all. We're going to auction one car with the film and the studios for charity.
Are there any secret features of the DB10?
There are. But I can't tell you. Because you have to watch the movie and look out for the special features. It's a little bit surprising how James gets the car as well. And that's all I'm going to say. It's worth watching how it happens.
So what do you personally love about the DB10?
It's the shape of the car. If you look at the nose, it looks like a shark. It's got very thin eyes and a menacing nose that looks pointed to the ground, as if it's hunting. We wanted this kind of hunter-gatherer look to the car, rather than a classic door wedge sports-car shape.
The film partnership started with the DB5 and we're up to the DB10 now, how have the cars evolved since?
Every film that we've been in — out of the 24 Bond films, we were in 12 — has featured a production car of the time. This is the first time we developed a car for the film, rather than using one of our production cars.
What else can you reveal for James Bond and Aston Martin fans?
I won't reveal, but I'll just tease you. Watch the last bit of the film. I think that's quite interesting, because it's quite cool what he does in the film. And the chase sequence in Rome is something else. I think it's one of the best chasings I've seen in a film for some time.
Click to read more about the Bond ladies at the global premiere in London