There is always a little bit of excitement associated with James Bond, and not just in the film. Beat Roos of Roos Engineering in Safenwil, to the west of Zurich, can confirm this. The restoration of Bond's Aston Martin DB5, with its lethal extras, went far beyond the tuner's everyday job.
Roos bought this Aston Martin DB5 at auction in 2006, on behalf of a customer. A total of four prototypes were produced in the mid-60s as part of the 007 films Goldfinger and Fireball: for the film recordings, press events and presentations. For the latter, the Aston Martin DB5 with chassis numbers 2017 and 2008 were used in preference.Back to the UK for. Ursula Andress' 70th
In 1969 came into the possession of Anthony Bamford, who then traded one of them in for a Ferrari 250 GTO and two years later sold the other to the Smoky Mountain Car Museum in Tennessee. The Aston Martin DB5 was well looked after there, until it came up for auction following the death of the museum owner and thereby fell into the custody of Roos.
Shortly after the purchase came the first test of his nerves. "The Aston Martin DB5 was held by customs in the USA for around six weeks," recalls the Swiss. Clearly the US authorities were a little uneasy about this object - during this time the replicas of a pistol and a hand grenade disappeared from the special drawer beneath the driver's seat.
Of course, the arrival of 007's service vehicle in Switzerland did not go unnoticed. Shortly thereafter the EDA, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, was in touch and asked whether the secret agent's Aston Martin DB5 was available to make an appearance in Edinburgh, where the 70th birthday of former Bond girl Ursula Andress was being celebrated.
The owner of the Aston Martin DB5 gave the green light, but first of all the four-wheeled veteran star had get itself spruced up a bit, at the end of the day it was returning from a long time out of the spotlight. The comeback turned out to be a success. Following an engine and brake service, the Aston Martin DB5 was once again drivable - at least over a short distance - and to enable it too make an appearance befitting its status, the Roos team temporarily installed a disco smoke machine to the rear.The kilos of special equipment take their toll
"But shortly before, the gear lever broke off," laughed Roos. The installation of the trigger for the ejector seat had clearly reduced the durability of the thin chrome pipe. Luckily the breakage could be welded.
Following this successful mission there was a difficult decision to be made: should this original car be restored or not? "If the plan was simply to show the car at exhibitions, you would have had to leave it as it is," concluded Roos. However, understandably, the new owner wanted to drive it, and as such the question was answered.
From the first check of the Aston, it became clear that the unbelievable additional load of a good 400 kilograms, focused in particular towards the back in the for of gas, compressed air and oil tanks, would in the long term be too much for the chassis. In fact, once the Aston Martin DB5 had been completely dismantled, tears in the frame and the A-pillar were revealed, and the chassis was significantly reinforced accordingly, similarly to in the open-top DB5. Generally speaking, Roos was enthused by the condition of the car: "With regard to corrosion, it was one of the best DB5s that I have ever seen."
However, to the front, an artistically applied layer of filler concealed accident damage, on account of which hand repairs had to be carried out from the front to just behind the headlamps. This and the complete overhaul of the engine of the Aston MArtin DB5, with just under 18,000 miles on the clock, along with the transmission and the wheel suspensions are considered routine work in the Swiss Aston Martin Heritage Center, however, the restoration of the special extras required an entirely new skill set. "Everything was indeed still in its original condition, but we had neither circuit nor hydraulic diagrams, and there was no documentation from back in that era," explained Roos, who was now required to tread in the footsteps of Q, the inventive gentleman who was responsible for Bond's equipment in the films.
James Bond car with fiddly surprises
Q's assistant, who in this case is called Erich Staeheli, identified one of the many confusing surprises that the Aston Martin DB5 has already thrown up during the work: "After we had overhauled the wiring, the hydraulic cylinder, the solenoid valves and the electrically driven hydraulic pump, all of a sudden the bumper horns would no longer extend." When we looked into what might be the cause, we discovered that the pump of the hydraulics system, which is incidentally borrowed from construction machinery, requires an operating voltage of 16 Volts, whereas the on-board power supply delivers just 13.4 Volts. Staeheli was now clear why the creative mechanics from back in the day ran such a thick and thus low-resistance cable to the pump, which he, with a clear conscience, had replaced for a neater looking standard cable.
To ensure that the pipes, and therefore the bumper horns, did not distort when extending, the former builders came up with the simple and effective idea of filling the bottom half of the horns with lead. "I think the ideas hidden within these extras are great," raved Roos, in spite of the fact that it took hours to get to grips with them. As was the case, for example, regarding the function of the machine gun. In the first converted Aston Martin DB5 the shots were generated with oxygen and acetylene. According to Staeheli, in the car shown here there were also connections for propane gas.
In any case, the Roos decided in favour of the first version. The acetylene and oxygen are fed forwards into the barrel where, as in the original, it is ignited via spark plug that is screwed in place. The energy for the spark is generated in a switchbox in the footwell. The exact duration of the gas and oxygen supply and the required pressure had to be determined by means of lengthy trials."In the case of constant fire it could become too hot"
For safety purposes, non-return valves were of course installed, the pressure adjustment sealed and only single fire planned. "If the switch were to stick during continuous fire, the this would become dangerously hot," said Roos. In contrast, in order to generate the smoke, neither fog canisters not the burning of oil were used, but rather the aforementioned disco smoke machine was installed.
The reworking of the windscreen wiper motors of the Aston Martin DB5, used to extend the gun barrel, to power the radar antenna in the wing mirrors or to move the steel backstop, was simple. Incidentally, owing to this steel plate, the boot lid turned out to be so heavy that a baseball bat for additional support was among the original equipment. However, Beat Roos did away with the ejector seat. This James Bond Aston Martin DB5 is exciting enough without it.
Details regarding the restoration of the "James Bond 007" Aston Martin DB5
- Place of purchase/Year: Phoenix, Arizona/2006
- Purchase condition: vehicle was original and certainly drivable, condition highly patinated, relatively little corrosion, repaired accident-related damagge to the front
- Prior history: one of four DB5s created for the 007 films and PR campaigns, with special extras. Sold to Anthony in 1969 and exhibited in the Smoky Mountain Car Museum in Tennessee from 1971 onwards
- Scope of restoration: vehicle completely dismantled, body removed from steel frame, accident damage to the front repaired with a newly produced front panel, chassis reinforced, engine, transmission and wheel suspensions dismantled and overhauled, refurbishment of all installed extras and restoration of functionality, interior refurbished, seats re-upholstered and covered in leather in the original colour, repainted in original Silver Birch paint
- Restoration period: 2006 to 2009
- Companies involved: Autosattlerei Bühlmann (saddlery/upholstery), CH-3018 Bern, Tel. 00 41/31/9 92 17 60, Carrosserie Steck AG (paintwork), CH-3027 Bern, www.steck.ag, Roos Engineering Ltd., Aston Martin Heritage Center Switzerland, CH-5745 Safenwil, www.roosengineering.ch
- Costs: not specified
- Market value: cannot be determined, guide: in 2010 RM auctioned off a bond car for 3.3 million Euros