We could have written this sentence in 1963: "Aston Martin has launched production of the DB5." Then, it would have referred to a shapely new coupe introduced to the popping of flash bulbs to replace the DB4. In 2020, it signals that the first batch of "Goldfinger"-spec continuation cars announced in 2018 by former CEO Andy Palmer are nearly ready to roar out of the Aston Martin Heritage Division's workshop in Newport Pagnell, England.
Workers build each DB5 from scratch, they're not starting with a donor car, and the process takes approximately 4,500 hours (or six full months). The firm explained it builds cars by hand using period-correct manufacturing techniques when possible, but it's not opposed to embracing modern engineering advancements when needed.
Aston Martin enlisted the help of EON Productions, the company that makes James Bond films, to ensure the continuation cars are accurate replicas of the DB5 used in "Goldfinger." Most of the gadgets that wowed movie fans on the big screen are accounted for, including a rear smoke screen delivery system, a simulated oil slick delivery system, a set of revolving license plates to fool the bad guys, and twin machine guns hidden behind the headlights. Fear not; they're fake, so you don't need to invest in an armored Mercedes-Benz G-Class if you spot a new DB5 in your neighbor's driveway. Buyers can pay extra for a hatch above the passenger-side front seat.
Inside, the add-ons include a telephone integrated into the driver's door, a radar screen tracker map (which is also fake), and a tray used to store weapons under the seats. Watch your elbow if you're lucky enough to ride in one: Some of the buttons used to activate the aforementioned gadgets are integrated into the armrest.
The aluminum hood hides a 4.0-liter straight-six engine that slurps gasoline through three SU carburetors to deliver about 290 horsepower. It spins the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission and a mechanical limited-slip differential. Aston is also installing disc brakes all around and non-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, so the continuation cars will accelerate, handle, look and sound like a DB5 should.
Aston Martin is only making 25 examples of the modern-day DB5, and it priced each one at £2.7 million (about $3.3 million at the current conversion rate). Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the second half of 2020, which is when the DB5 will return to the big screen in the next installment of the James Bond series. That's a lot of money for a car that's not street-legal but it's a bargain compared to the original, which sold for a jaw-dropping $6.3 million in 2019. That's the one you should watch out for; all of its gadgets are functional.
Other carmakers are turning to continuation cars to capitalize on a growing demand for vintage cars. Bentley is making 12 replicas of the 1929 Team Blower models built and raced by Sir Tim Birkin, a move which drew the ire of wealthy collectors (including Ralph Lauren) and earned the company an angry (but very polite) letter.