Tilly Masterson checked that the high-powered hunting rifle was still discreetly tucked away behind the rear seat of her Mustang. She’d followed Auric Goldfinger’s Rolls-Royce to this vantage point and wasn’t about to let him get away.
Her journey through the Swiss Alps had brought her to the Furka Pass and, when Goldfinger stopped for a bite to eat, the perfect opportunity presented itself. Three hairpin bends below was the Rolls-Royce; time to jump out, scramble down the bank and take aim at the 1938 Phantom III.
It’s the classic scene from Goldfinger, where actress Tania Mallet takes a shot at Goldfinger, played by Gert Frobe, while James Bond – who is also in pursuit of the evil genius – stands beside his DB5 on a curve in-between.
But this is happening now. Almost 45 years on, it’s still a magical scene. It was in this sequence in Goldfinger that the DB5 came into its own. Although its cinematic presence amounted to a mere 13 minutes in this film and Thunderball, it has become as much of a screen icon as Bond himself.
I came up with the idea of recreating the scene last year after driving the recently launched Aston Martin DBS on the Beaujolais Run, thinking that it would be great to take an original film car back to the Furka Pass. Aston Martin agreed, and we eventually expanded the idea to include Daniel Craig’s DBS and a Roush-tuned Shelby-Mustang GT500 for today’s Tilly.
The problem was finding the cars. There were originally four Bond DB5s: two for action photography and a pair for close-ups. One was stolen from its owner in the USA, never to be seen again; one is in private hands; another is in a museum in Texas; and the final one resides in a museum in Holland. And we weren’t about to persuade the owners to let them go to Switzerland.
The original Mustang’s whereabouts are also unknown, so ‘making do’ with one of the best examples in Europe, and hoping its owner is a Bond fan, seemed like a good back-up plan. As for persuading Tania Mallet, now 67, to return to Switzerland and take part in what many people thought was a crazy idea was obviously too much to hope for.
A swift call to Tania asking the question proved I wasn’t crazy at all. She was only too happy to help. ‘What a great idea! I have never been back and I would love to: it would be a dream come true for me.’
Roping in the DB5 and Rolls-Royce was also surprisingly straightforward. Aston Martin specialist Richard Williams contacted one of his clients, David Murphy, a Dublin-based architect. David’s initial response to the plan was a very Bondian, ‘You’re joking!’, before agreeing to bring his car along. Tim Neale, who regularly displays his Rolls-Royce Phantom III on the British show circuit, was also a willing volunteer for the Swiss adventure.
Then came the most difficult task of all – finding a 1964 Ford Mustang convertible. The Mustang Club of Great Britain just couldn’t come up with an exact match in the UK but, after I’d put the feelers out in Europe, Swiss Mustang collector and expert Peter Lanz offered his car. ‘I am sorry,’ he said. ‘Mine’s a 1966 with a slightly different grille and side panel ornaments.’ You would have to be a true Mustang aficionado to tell the difference, though, and because of that, we said yes – and with that, we had our cars.
We’d agreed to meet Peter and his Mustang near Lucerne on a Friday morning, the shoot due to take place over the following two days. Keith Adams, Octane’s new assistant editor and a great Bond fan, became enthused with the idea. He’d suggested bringing the story up to date by throwing in a new Shelby Mustang, to see how it would perform against the old Mustang – and more importantly, against Daniel Craig’s DBS.
We now had the cars, the Bond girl, and our location – and what an adventure it was to be. So, on a cold morning at the end of September, we pick up the actual DBS used in the new film Quantum of Solace, meet up with David Murphy and his pristine DB5, and head for the Channel Tunnel. If the positive response from other drivers on the M25 is anything to go by, we’re in for a great time. This is going to be one of the most memorable stories I have ever been involved in – reuniting a Bond girl with her original props and film location.
Cruising through Northern France in the DB5 and the DBS, even the grotty weather fails to dampen our spirits. The forecast for the weekend is good and our cars are performing faultlessly. Murphy is so excited that every other remark is delivered in a surprisingly accurate James Bond accent. How would Tania Mallet react to that?
The DBS effortlessly devours the miles – and with 510bhp to play with, the 500-mile day on the eerily deserted French autoroute network is just what this supercar is built for. Considering it has a near-200mph top speed and a chassis set-up honed for the circuit, it’s as capable as an executive saloon at the 80mph canter. Having said that, the DB5 is no slouch, either – and it’s the older car that turns more heads.
Murphy’s DB5 looks fantastic. Every time we stop, it’s washed and polished, and at the start of each morning both cars are treated to a major brush-up – after all, we are acting as ambassadors for Aston Martin. Everywhere we go there’s huge interest. When Mustang owner Peter hooks up with us on the Swiss border he’s obviously having trouble containing his excitement. Rushing into our hotel, he describes the trip we’re about to undertake as the ‘ultimate experience of his life’.
Thanks to: Tania Mallet, David Murphy, Tim Neale and Peter Lanz; Eurotunnel for looking after the DBS and the DB5 on the way to and from France; Switzerland Tourism, Swiss International Airlines, Ford of Europe and Aston Martin. Eurotunnel crossings start from £49. Book on-line at www.eurotunnel.com or call 08705 353535. For more information on the Valais Region visit www.valais.ch, and for information about Switzerland Tourism visit www.MySwitzerland.com, freephone00800 100 200 30 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Swiss international airline SWISS operates daily flights from London Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and Manchester to Zurich, Geneva and Basel. For reservations call 0845 601 0956 or visit www.swiss.com.