So, at the start of the film, we see our hero, played for the first time by Timothy Dalton, driving ‘B549 WUU’ a V8 Volante with Cumberland Grey coachwork and upholstered in black leather. This car was in fact the personal transport of Victor Gauntlett, the Chairman of AML. This car, even without visiting Q branch, was a bit special as it was fitted with a Vantage engine, prior to it being offered as a production car. I eventually saw this particular V8 at the AMOC Horsfall race meeting in 2007, participating in the 007 track parade. During the film, and whilst in Volante form, the V8 did not display any particular ‘special features’.
A little later, we again see the Volante, this time in Q’s workshop, where it appears to be receiving a hardtop. The script describes the car as being ‘winterised’. The result is a V8 saloon; an Oscar India car that you are expected to believe is the Volante with a closed roof – this is of course impossible – but hey, it’s only a film. In reality, the factory used a pair of second-hand V8′s which were refurbished and modified for filming the stunt work in the mountains of Austria although much of the plot was set in Czechoslovakia. They do have visible ‘Vantage’ badges, but these I guess were fitted as they would have been seen on the Volante; to all intents and purposes, the car was an ‘Oscar India’ V8.
Below are also some B+W press pictures that were released by the producers of the Bond film in 1987. Clearly, the Jet booster is a working effect. Notice that once the front tyre was blown off, the wheel has a metal disc which indicates that the skis couldn’t actually support the heavy V8.
Just like the DB5 before it, the V8 had many gadgets
- Jet engine booster rocket, behind the rear number plate
- Ice tyres with spikes emerging through the treads by compressed air
- Retractable outriggers for use on snow and ice, which emerge from the sills
- A pair of heat seeking missiles concealed behind the fog lights
- Laser beams built into the front hubcaps
- Heads-up display form targeting the missiles
- Police band scanner radio
- Self destruct system – thankfully only a fibreglass replica was exploded in the film
Such were the demands of parts for the filming, there was apparently a shortage of bumpers and windscreens at the factory for a short while afterwards. The V8 coupe is still, I believe jointly owned by AM and Eon Productions, and is occasionally displayed at public events. I have been able to photograph the car at 1986 British Motor Show, 1998 Coys Historic Festival, Silverstone, 2005 AMOC St. Georges Day Windsor event in 2005 and the 2013 Aston Martin Centenary Celebration, Kensington Palace. I believe a engineless fibreglass special fx replica from the film also still exists which features some actual operating effects.
But remember that the number plate was the same on all the cars used during filming. The actual number officially stayed on the Volante until 2000 when it went overseas. Subsequently the registration number was purchased and can now be seen on another V8 saloon, also finished in the correct shade of Cumberland Gray with matching black leather. Not an original 007 car, but a very convincing replica/recreation how ever you want to see it. The car is illustrated here when it was photographed on a visit to the Aston Martin factory at Newport Pagnell in 2004. Perhaps the only obvious difference to the real thing are the new AM heritage ‘Ronal like’ wheels instead of the BBS cross spokes seen in the film.
This car really looks the part, a real head turner