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Aston Martin restored by Deal enthusiast could have inspired 007 author Ian Fleming's description of James Bond's car in Goldfinger

16 January 2014
by Beth Robson

A once sad and rusty sports car bought as a father-and-son bonding project might have been what prompted Ian Fleming's description of Bond's Aston Martin in the book Goldfinger.

The new owner of the Aston Martin DB 2/4 Mk I, who has lovingly restored it to its former glory, lives in Deal but has to remain anonymous because of the car's potential value to thieves.

He said it was a chance purchase from a man who thought the car's only claim to fame was that it had "once been driven in a rally".

The Aston Martin DB24 after its full restoration

The Aston Martin DB2/4 after its full restoration

But after discovering unusual modifications while stripping the vehicle, the new owner is convinced it was Fleming's inspiration for the spy's first Aston Martin.

It has taken nine-months of research to build a case and the car has been featured in Bond magazine mi6 confidential.

Speaking at his home in Walmer, he said: "I found it online and I asked the last owner what I had to do to make her mine.

"He said 'If you want her to be yours, you have to be the first person to come and get her.'

Ian Fleming lived in St Margaret's Bay, where he wrote Goldfinger

Ian Fleming lived in St Margaret's Bay, where he wrote Goldfinger

With keen viewers making their way to have a look, he made sure he was the first to see the car and bought her back to Deal - just a few miles away from where Fleming wrote Goldfinger in St Margaret's Bay.

"The furthest it had been driven in 40 years was about 30ft," he said. "It has been laying dormant since its road tax expired in 1970."

The historical research journey started when the new owner, a former plane and hovercraft engineer, was stripping the car after he bought her in March.

He found unusual updates that were made by the first owner, who purchased her in 1955.

The car in the book was erroneously referred to as the DB III and there was reference to the same specifications as the DB2/4 Mk I in the novel.

'Gloria' before her tender restoration on the Kentish coast

'Gloria' before her tender restoration on the Kentish coast

He discovered the first owner of his new purchase was Philip Ingram Cunliffe-Lister, who would have been a contemporary of Fleming.

They have never been able to prove the two knew each other, but they have learned both Cunliffe-Lister and Fleming's fathers were very close to Sir Winston Churchill.

More delving through once secred MI6 files uncovered Cunliffe-Lister’s father (1st Earl of Swinton) was Fleming's boss at MI6 and may even have been his inspiration for the character M.

"The only reason we found it all out is because the information was released under the 50-year rule.

"It might be coincidence," he said. "But there are too many coincidences and the more I found out I thought I've got to run with this and carry on digging."

Fleming's home in St Margaret's Bay

Fleming's home in St Margaret's Bay

He added: "There never will be concrete evidence because everyone has died. The history of the car is like a family tree: You go off on historical tangents."

It is through his father's research the car's link to St Margaret's was uncovered.

Fleming bought his house on the beach in St Margaret's Bay from playwright Noel Coward in 1952.

About the same time Royal portrait painter Dennis Ramsay moved to Hope Bay Studio - the nearest house to Fleming.

“There never will be concrete evidence because everyone has died. The history of the car is like a family tree: You go off on historical tangents..." - the anonymous Aston owner

The author used the house as inspiration for his character Hugo Drax's property where he kept a rocket.

"We know of Fleming’s interest in fast cars and he would notice if an Aston Martin (being a rare thing in 1955 - especially in a small village) turns up a few yards away.

"The facts are that it did turn up. Philip Ingram Cunliffe-Lister was the close friend of Dennis and Rose Ramsay, even to the extent where Rose was Godmother of his young son."

The new owner will not disclose how much he purchased her for - or how much he has paid to refurbish the leather and exterior paint work.

"She has been several different colours but is 95% original apart from the paint work and leather."

Inside the Aston, which could have inspired Fleming

Inside the Aston, which could have inspired Fleming

So, restored to her former glamour, the new owners gave themselves the task of giving her a name. And what female name could do a car like this justice? One that connotes class sophistication and intrigue?

"We've called her Gloria," he said.

Now, with just a few loose ends to tie up, Gloria should soon be cruising round the Kent coast like she had in her heyday.

He added: "Did the car want to return to its literary home in Kent? I think it did. It's like it was meant to be here.

"If anyone else had bought it, they might not have looked into the history as much as we have.

"It's nice it has come so close to where Fleming lived."

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