Cars

Why The Aston Martin DBS Is James Bond's Greatest Ever Car

We raise a Martini to the iconic car’s half century
IMAGE Christoffer Rudquist
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Of all the James Bond films, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service seems to split opinion the most. To its flag wavers, it’s an anomaly—faithful to the books, portraying a flawed, vulnerable Bond (played by George Lazenby) without resorting to tacky set-pieces and gadgets, plus Louis Armstrong does the theme tune. 

For its haters, see reasons listed above. 

The ending is one of the harshest and most incongruous of any mainstream film, Bond or otherwise. (Do you still need spoiler alerts for something that came out 48 years ago?) 

While sitting in the front seat of 007’s Aston Martin DBS, his new and smiling bride, played by Diana Rigg, is gunned down by Blofeld’s henchwoman Irma Bunt in a passing silver Mercedes-Benz 600. 

The closest we’ve ever seen James Bond come to genuine happiness and this happens. On his wedding day. No wonder it would be 18 years before Bond climbed into an Aston again. The final frame is of the bullet-hole in the windscreen. 

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So many questions: can he ever recover from such a blow? Why hadn’t Q installed bullet-proof glass like he had on the DB5? And did he have travel insurance for all the honeymoon bookings? 

As with the film’s shift in tone, the DBS, which launched 50 years ago, in 1967, with a list price of £4,473, marked a new chapter and design direction for Aston Martin. 

Its predecessor the DB6 was only subtly different from the DB4 and DB5 before it, so while beautiful and elegant, its design roots were back in the '50s and it showed. 

This new DBS on the other hand, designed at short notice by William Towns, immediately had both eyes on the decade ahead—muscular, aggressive and sassy, emphasized by a longer, squarer bonnet, and extended front grill, with a lusher interior and a confident, tapered rear-end. 

A V8 version followed two years later which would be the fastest four-seat production car in the world and cemented Aston’s switch to phenomenally fast grand tourers, which would last another 20 years. 

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Its somewhat tragic Bond appearance would be the only one for the DBS. And for Lazenby, too. Today, this short-lived model is perhaps only just getting the attention it deserves, looking far fresher and more contemporary than five decades might suggest. 

The DB5 will always be the most famous Bond car but the DBS, like the film it starred in, might just be the discerning choice.

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This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Will Hersey
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