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living: autocade

Thoughts in a V8Thoughts in a V8


Jack Yan fulfils a childhood fantasy, but where were Pussy Galore and the ejector seat?
photographed by the author

From issue 16 of Lucire

 

JAMES BOND had spied the Korean in the bowler climb into the Rolls-Royce. He knew from Col Smithers that the car was stuffed full of jewellery, its haul going toward one of Goldfinger’s smelting operations, where they would go to fund smersh, or, perhaps even worse, a terrorist organization.
   But the Korean turned into the Royal St Mark’s golf club at Sandwich.
   Bond knew that he needed something that at least looked in keeping with the Rolls-Royce in the members’ car park. He had, after all, a standing invitation to play there, having been acquainted with Alfred Blacking, the pro at St Mark’s.
   Returning to Q Branch, he spied a Bentley Continental Flying Spur. It was an attractive enough car. The longer wheelbase and the four doors were well integrated into the styling. The vehicle did not look too large, but its European roots showedits designer, Dirk van Bræckel, had crafted shapes for other brands for the Volkswagen combine. Bond thought more favourably of the silver Aston Martin V8 Vantage parked in the corner.
   Major Boothroyd, the head of Q Branch, came up to Bond and began one of his lectures.
   ‘Right, pay attention, 007,’ he began.
   Bond absorbed the Major’s briefing with the usual attention, recalling that he would have to pick up his golf clubs on the way out of London, while his eyes were fixated on the car’s stunning shape.
   Henrik Fisker, the Dane who had taken over from his friend Ian Callum, had taken the existing theme and made it more masculine. The resulting shape was more rocket-like, with thicker A- and C-pillars. The Aston looked more robust as a result, though Bond casually thought that the pillars would cause some problems with visibility. The roof was a single piece, so there would be no ejector seat.
   Q went through Aston Martin’s ratchet-principle handbrake with Bond again, though he felt familiar enough with the system. Sitting behind the wheel, Bond noted that the interior had elements of the art-déco among its anthracite features, with polished alloy that gave the dials a luminescence that had been lacking on cars of late.
   There was a six-speed manual gearbox with a proper shift. Bond had tired of the paddles that had become all too familiar at Porsche and Ferrari, though when he tested a 911 Carrera as a favour to a British sergeant in Germany, he felt the sequential shift had some merit.
   In fact, it was the 911, and no other British rival, that came to mind as he drove the Aston out of MI6’s headquarters. As he left, a woman in a parked Toyota took a photograph of the car—or was it himself?—with a digital camera. It did not look like a SMERSH issue, though Bond could not be sure. Instead, he noted the car’s number plate, and filed it in his mind using a mixture of mnemonics and a colour coding technique he had mentally developed.
   Bond took the car through the toughest roads he could find leading back to Sandwich, and could not help but admit to himself that the 911 was superior in many respects: grip, handling, direction, steering wheel weight, and transmission. Standard equipment, for NZ$245,000, did not compare well to the Porsche—for instance, the ventilation system was better in the German car—though its speed was nearly on a par. But the V8’s practicality—the first Aston Martin with an opening tailgate since the firm made some limited-edition Virage Shooting Brakes in the 1990s—was unquestionable.
   Bond could not help but find himself more drawn to the Aston. It was not a matter of national pride, but the sheer beauty of the car. Every exterior line screamed of sensuality but each did so through proportion. There was a gentlemanly subtlety to the car, which was firmly lacking with earlier British cars such as the Jaguar E-type. And, as he pulled up to St Mark’s, he got a better class of admirer than when he had piloted the Porsche outside Stuttgart.
   He parked the V8 next to Goldfinger’s Rolls-Royce. He knew what was in the boot, but needed more if he was to find out if the jeweller was indeed the treasurer of SMERSH. Bond removed his golf clubs from the back of the Aston and went to find Blacking. Later, he thought, the homing device in the Aston would have to do its work.
   He turned back to glance at the car one more time. And found himself doing so once more before he entered the club. The Aston Martin was the right choice, he remarked, a car for all seasons and situations. •

 

This parody is written with apologies to the late Ian Fleming and Glidrose Productions Ltd., who hold the literary copyright to the James Bond character. Author’s notes: substitute Jack Yan for James Bond, Independent Prestige’s Greg Brinck for Major Boothroyd, and Titirangi for Sandwich to get a more factual representation of this story.

 

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Bond absorbed Major Boothroyd’s briefing with the usual attention, recalling that he would have to pick up his golf clubs on the way out of London, while his eyes were fixated on the car’s stunning shape

 

 

 

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