The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is considered to be the most famous automobile in the world.
This is because it will forever be associated as the car driven by fictional British secret agent James Bond in several films spanning over five decades. Writer and creator Ian Fleming had Bond drive a series of 1950s era Bentleys but readers felt such a large and not particularly sporting car was out of character for the young agent. Beginning in the novel Goldfinger, Bond was finally driving an Aston Martin DB Mk III and by the time the movie was shot, the current model DB5 was featured.
In celebration of No Time to Die, the biggest pandemic cinematic release of 2021, Aston Martin announced that they would begin production of only 25 continuation models of the Goldfinger DB5 …. with all of the Bond gadgets in place and fully functional. The first one was completed in 2020 and sold for close to $4 million USD. Continuation models are popular amongst low volume automobile manufacturers because they are selling a very desirable product that may be otherwise impossible to purchase because of savvy collectors. This product is new, built to absolutely authentic specification using original suppliers, materials and hand made methods by a team of trained artisans and backed by the original factory, often with VIN serial numbers consecutive to the original build.
How original and authentic is the DB5 continuation model? It takes 4500 hours to build each one. In contrast it takes only 220 hours to manufacture a modern Aston Martin vehicle. The body of the car was originally designed by the Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera and features a light weight network of triangulated mild steel tubes covered by beaten aluminum panels. Each panel is not stamped by a press but starts off as a flat sheet of aluminum, the curves generated with an English wheel and then caressed into final shape on a wooden buck. The panels are not even welded or adhesive bonded to the steel tubes but clenched by folding the edges over the tubes and crimping them. The only concession to modern manufacturing methods is when something can be made more reliable. For the chassis, it is powder coated to provide better corrosion resistance.
This focus on authenticity means that none of the vehicles can ever pass modern emissions and safety regulations but for a wealthy new owner with a retinue of legal advisors, surely some flexible jurisdiction can be found to register and license it for road use.
My adventure with this DB5 continuation model began just after the New Year. All the images were shot with the Olympus E-M1.2 body and the Leica 15mm f/1.7 prime lens.
So I have to come clean. I doubt there is anyone in Canada who owns a DB5 continuation model. These are in fact all forced perspective images using an extremely detailed and large 1:8 scale Eaglemoss model.
The use of a larger model means we are no longer restricted to wide angle views of the real world background, we can shoot closer to real world objects, like the drive through lane of Tim Hortons. With smaller models one would have to place the camera so close to the model that its deficiencies would become apparent.
The perfect platform would be transparent and invisible to the camera … like glass. But all glass reflects, even when I tried an expensive piece with special antireflective coatings used in home AV theatres. Even the slightest reflection ruins the illusion.
But when I’m not shooting a wide field like Lake Ontario, I can use a much smaller 2’x1′ platform which can be mounted on a single tripod and easily articulated in all three axes. The winter changes the color of asphalt in Toronto as salt is liberally used to melt ice and snow and on dry days the salt residue gives asphalt a light grey appearance. I tried to mimic that appearance with my paint work by sponging light grey paint onto the flat black base.
My most ambitious and difficult shot was the Tim Horton’s Drive Through. McDonald’s was also a venue consideration given the universality of that restaurant but it would require a wide angle shot in order to get the Golden Arches into view but I want to show off the convincing details of the DB5 close up. Most people are not aware that monster models like this even exist hence the convincing nature of the illusion. The problem required scouting many nearby locations which proved fruitless in the big city of Toronto. Due to the sky rocketing property values in the city, most of these restaurants are built on small lots making it impossible for me to shoot unobtrusively without disrupting the drive through traffic or endangering myself in the process. And there was all sorts of in the way security fencing to keep properties delineated and to keep people from accidentally crossing into car traffic. My solution was to use a location in a much smaller city north of Toronto where I spend two days a week working as a health care provider. I found the perfect Tim Horton’s restaurant where I could safely setup on a public sidewalk protected from the drive through traffic by a planted hedge (now covered and frozen over with snow) with no fencing or signage in the way. Again I threw snow onto the platform and aligned it to superimpose perfectly onto the drive through lane way. And luckily in a small city people are not as concerned with privacy issues as to demand that you stop photographing their car or making a scene about it. Nor does the restaurant manager come storming out to accuse you of trespassing and threaten to call the police!
¹ The Browning machine guns were manufactured during WW2 by the Birmingham Small Arms company, otherwise known as BSA. Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft were equipped with these armaments. This footnote makes sense if you know me.