Step aside Q… The latest adaptation of Bond’s faithful DB5 is masterminded by junior car builders The Little Car Company. Made to two-third size and fully drivable – with top speeds of 50mph – the No Time To Die Aston Martin DB5 is a masterclass in engineering. We sat down with the company’s CEO Ben Hedley to find out more.
Can you tell us more about how the Little Car Company came to be?
I was actually approached by Bugatti – they wanted to do an announcement for the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. They already had a $20 million hypercar they were going to announce but they wanted to do something a bit more fun for their 110th anniversary. I’d been involved in the little car area previously and they said “Look, can you help us build a follow up to the original Bugatti Baby from the 1920s?” They had made about 500 of them and they’re now collector’s items, so if you want one, it’s like $100,000. The big change we made is the original ones were designed just for kids. They were half scale, which is actually tiny. They were too small for eight-year-olds. So we looked at whether we could remake them to modern standards. Then also we made a decision to go to 75% scale. We thought “we’re gonna give it some power. It’s gonna be faster.” Rather than try and remake this original 1920s toy. People say they’re toys but they’re not toys. They are the original car just scaled down 25%. They’ve got 50 mph top speeds and they’re not for kids. They’re fast.
How did the idea of creating a James Bond vehicle come about?
When we originally approached Aston Martin and said we’d love to do a DB5, they were just blown away. They couldn’t believe it. They thought we’d bring them a toy and we brought this little car. We were doing the contract and in the back of my mind – as I was a massive Bond fan as a kid – I always thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to put some gadgets in it? Wouldn’t it be awesome to put some of the Goldfinger stuff in?” Aston Martin thought this could be cool too. But with No Time To Die coming out Aston Martin thought it would be interesting to do it with the modern gadgets. So we got EON Productions on board and they introduced us to 007 Special Effects Supervisor, Chris Corbould. Chris then helped start engineering the car and we created a mini car based on the new movie.
What were the biggest challenges in making the No Time To Die car?
The biggest challenge we had was that we didn’t originally design it to have gadgets in. What wasn’t straightforward was the engineering on it, trying to fit loads of kit in a car that wasn’t designed to have all that kit. But our guys managed to sneak it all in.
How creative did your team have to be to make it work?
Very creative. You see, the car itself is 66% scale. So that means that when you look at the car, it’s actually only 44% of the area. Then you’re down to a minimum size of about 34% of the volume to play with. Especially with the machine gun mechanisms. You’ve got to have the headlights drop, and then the guns have got to come out and have power for the rotation. Trying to get that in a wheel arch where you’ve got to have a wheel and suspension that’s a challenge. It’s not like a movie car where you can open up the boot and it’s just hidden items and a wire or two: this had to be a finished product. So you still have to have that beautifully lined boot, even though there’s a smoke machine underneath it. You open the bonnet and it’s got to be immaculate and beautiful. We doubled the power to about 25 horsepower, and it’s got a range of about 80 miles of driving. We’ve got a couple of hidden surprises and easter eggs in there as well which we haven’t told people about yet, that the owners will discover over time.
How do you feel now looking back on fulfilling a dream job?
There was a huge responsibility with the Bond and Aston Martin DB5 legacy; they handed us this sacred cow to develop and recreate. There was a lot of pressure because if we didn’t get it right, we would be tarnishing what is an incredible reputation so I was acutely aware all the way through that this was a very special project you only get to do once in your life. Designing a Bond car with the gadgets and making it work. That is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was brilliant.