The new James Bond movie "Spectre" opened Friday. It stars Daniel Craig and an Aston Martin DB10.
The custom-made sports car was ordered up by the makers of the $250 million film. It is the first ever bespoke Bond car — 100% built to order, for 007 alone.
The filmmakers went to Aston Martin in September of last year, and told the company they wanted something brand new but very Bond — a modern version, they said, of the 1963 DB5 their hero drove in "Goldfinger," "Thunderball," "GoldenEye," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Casino Royale" and "Skyfall."
(Trivia experts will know Bond also drove an Aston Martin DBS in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," a Vantage V8 Volante in "The Living Daylights," a V12 Vanquish in "Die Another Day" and a DBS V12 in "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace.")
Aston Martin delivered the vehicles six months later, and filming began.
The resulting coupe is powered by a 4.7-liter V8 engine that makes 420 horsepower and is capable of a top speed of 190 mph and zero-to-60 mph acceleration of 4.7 seconds.
A bit of a throwback, it features a stick shift — by order of the filmmakers. "They were adamant that Bond drive a manual," said the company's Matthew Clarke.
We got a chance to drive the bespoke Bond car, a week before the movie opened, but just a little: Its many special features prevent it from being street legal. So the quick spin we took around the parking lot didn't reveal much, except that it sounds and feels like something you'd want to experience on the race track.
Unlike Bond rides of old, which featured lasers, machine guns, heat-seeking shotguns, spinning license plates and other gadgets, this one is fairly straightforward.
The "Eject" button on top of the shift knob is still there — but now it triggers a pair of tail-mounted flamethrowers. And instead of an ignition key or start button, it features a "thumbprint reader," so no one but Bond can use it.
An aluminum chassis and carbon fiber body mean it's very light, but also expensive to produce. That may be one reason Aston Martin says there will never be a DB10 for sale.
But some elements of the DB10 might begin appearing in late 2016, when it is expected that a new DB11 will arrive to replace the outgoing DB9.
The new Bond car features a low, shark-like face, which replaces the gate-mouthed front typical of the last several generations of Aston Martins. That was a key design point.
"The natural comparison is the original Bond car, the DB5," said the company's design director Marek Reichman. "It is a scalpel, not a knife. The DB10 wears a modern interpretation of that signature. The grill was actually inspired by sharks."
That design could well appear on the DB11 — and could be the face of all new Aston Martins starting in 2017.
The DB10's clamshell hood — a first for Aston Martin — and more muscular shoulders could also be part of the DB11 look.
Getting the car to the screen involved missteps. Pirelli custom-made tires for the vehicle, but the filmmakers found they were too good — and wouldn't slide across a Roman piazza as called for in the script. The filmmakers went back to Pirelli and asked them to make a not-so-good variation on the same rubber, in order to get the shot.
As is usually the case with movie magic, the vehicle audiences will see on screen is actually many vehicles. Aston Martin made 10 DB10s. Three were so-called "hero" cars, and were complete cars used in driving sequences. Seven others were partial vehicles, each built differently to do different stunts — some without complete bodies, others scheduled for destruction on screen.
Aston Martin will keep one of the hero cars for itself. One will go to the producers. A third will be auctioned off for charity. The bits and pieces of the other seven will remain with Aston Martin.
"Skyfall," the preceding film in the long-running series, made more than $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide.
"Spectre," which has already broken opening day records in Britain, is expected to do equally well.