The Ford Motor Company, owners of AML came to a special agreement with EON productions and MGM whereby no money apparently has changed hands. Ford provided the cars (seven V12 Vanquishes for 007, Jaguar XK8’s for the villain and Ford Thunderbirds for the female lead, Jinx, played by Halle Berry plus assorted other Jaguars and Land Rovers) . In addition to having their cars on screen, Ford agreed to provide advertising support for the film which was released on the 20th November 2002.
Now 7 V12 Vanquishes are a large number of motor cars but there was a good reason for this. Four pre-production cars were especially re-constructed to provide the special effects, leaving three more standard production (or ‘hero’) cars for use for close ups and interior shots. These were identical production cars (with sequential chassis numbers 500172, 500173 and 500174) were finished in Tungsten Silver with charcoal leather interior together with a brushed aluminium centre console. These cars were not fitted with any special modifications what-so-ever.
The four special effects cars needed to be fitted with a four wheel drive system for the action sequences shot on a frozen lake in Iceland. The Vanquish bodyshells were fitted with 300 bhp Ford Boss 302 V8’s mounted as far back in the chassis as possible. This allowed sufficient room for the fitting of a front differential and drive shafts from the Ford Explorer, plus space for weaponry behind the grille. The 120 mph Aston/Ford performance 4WD hybrids were also fitted with roll cages for safety reasons – good job really as two were destroyed during filming. Since the frozen lake was only just thick enough to drive on following a ‘warm’ winter, concealed flotation devices were also fitted in case the ice gave way under the cars. One special effects car was damaged beyond repair in Iceland when it lost control and hit an iceberg trapped in the ice, the second after it was filmed sliding along on it’s roof. I believe that the two remaining special effect Vanquishes are still owned by Aston Martin and are displayed on rare occasions. On display during the opening of the Gaydon factory in 2003 was one of the (unidentified) survivors, which does not appear to have the missiles hidden in the grille and only has the machine guns placed on the bonnet. The second car, preproduction Vanquish PP13 has 4 front firing grille missiles, machine guns that can be raised or lowered through the bonnet and a full roll cage. One interesting feature of the 4WD Vanquish was the automatic gearbox that allowed for 120mph in both forward and reverse.
Following filming, one of the special effects cars was shown at the 2002 British Motor Show together with the Jaguar and Thunderbird. The hero cars were also put to work on film and product promotion. Below is illustrated one of those cars on display in Harrods shop window. The AML/Bonhams auction in May 2003 saw a unique opportunity to acquire one of the three ‘hero’ cars from the film. Chassis 500172 was offered for sale in ‘as new’ condition with minimal mileage and full provenance from EON (007 film producers) and AML. After strong bidding, the hammer fell at £190,000. Unbelievable that at the AML/Bonham’s auction just a year later, a second ‘hero’ car, chassis number 500173 was put up for sale. Here is 500173 displayed at Works Service reception complete with dummy machine guns. When the hammer fell, the price was just £144,500 for this ‘as new’ Vanquish with 007 provenance. When viewed against chassis 500172, it appeared very good value indeed.