As famous as James Bond is himself, so are his cars. Known for his exquisite taste in cars, Bond and Aston Martin are synonymous with each other, with a long standing history. While at the launch of the title of the new Bond flick 'Spectre', Aston Martin DB10 was announced as the future car for the Bond, we would like to tell you about the very first Bond car. The car that Mr. James Bond drove during his initial years, before getting his hands on beautiful looking Aston Martins.
James Bond, before coming alive on the silver screen, played a role of an assassin in the Ian Fleming's novels. Ian Fleming, the novelist, became famous for his work on the fictional character of James Bond 007. Fleming's first Bond novel was called 'Casino Royale' (the name was chosen as the title for the first movie of Daniel Craig as James Bond), and was published in 1953. In this novel, Bond drove a mammoth of 1931 Blower Bentley.
While the today's bond cars are touted as the most gorgeous looking cars, the Blower Bentley was a total opposite of them. She was big, noisy, bulky, but one of the finest cars in its day and the perfect vehicle to show the dominance to the world. As portrayed by Fleming in the Casino Royale novel, Bond was a car fanatic and his Bentley was 'his only hobby'.
The 1931 Blower Bentley was later changed to the 1930 Bentley, after Fleming realized his mistake that the production of the car seized in 1931. The Blower Bentley was driven by Bond in three novels - Casino Royale, Live and Let Die and Moonraker. Fleming describes the car as 'almost new' in Casino Royale, after Bond bought it in 1933 and carefully stored during the war.
Bond cars are known to house gazillions of gadgets, so modern that any spy from any corner of the world could feel a complex. Interestingly, though, in the novels, no gadgets were installed in this 1930 Bentley, other than a revolver in the glove compartment, as this was Bond's personal vehicle. The Bentley was destroyed during a chase sequence in Moonraker.
But why use such a big and not so good looking machine? Fleming, in an interview revealed that he had put Bond in a Blower because he liked him to 'use dashing, interesting things.' According to Fleming, Bond was so much in love with his car, that “Bond drove it hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure.”
But Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin, had to be thanked for bringing out the best of the Blower Bentley. Sir Henry used this Bentley to race in the famous Le Mans 24-hours, where he reached speeds in excess of 220 kmph ( Bond only managed to do 175 when he was chasing Le Chiffre). The 4.5 litre Bentley in question here, was built by Tim Birkin, with the help of a Bentley mechanic and only 5 units were initially commissioned by them to race in the Le Mans.
The famous Bentley Blower used to house a 3.0 litre engine, which was replaced by a supercharged 4.4 litre inline four-motor engine producing 240 horsepower. It came with a four-speed unsynchronized manual transmission and the supercharger, which forced more air into the engine to generate more power (thus “Blower”) was gigantic and easily spotted at the front of the car, between the headlights. Just 55 supercharged units of the car were produced between 1929 and 1931.
Walter Owen Bentley, founder of the company, despite the Blower’s success, was not happy with the car. He was not favour of supercharged engine and believed there is no replacement for displacement. But he was powerless to stop Birkin from changing the car, as he lost control of his company. By November 1931, the production of the Blower Bentley seized after selling 720 units of the 4.5 litre model - 655 naturally aspirated and 55 supercharged.
But this was not the only reason of Fleming replacing Bentley from now iconic, Aston. According to Top Gear’s '50 Years of Bond Cars', a fan wrote a letter to Fleming, suggesting to “have the decency to fix him up with a decent bit of machinery.” The unknown fan suggested to replace the Bentley with an Aston Martin DB3, which Fleming took seriously and the first Aston was featured in 1959’s Goldfinger. The producer, though, decided to use DB5 when the movie was first made in 1964 and the rest is history.