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Driving licence to thrill as Bond car inspires spy story

The sports car that has been dubbed the original James Bond Aston Martin has inspired the commissioning of a short story in the same month that the car goes under the hammer.

Journalist David Barzilay had been asked to write a story about the one-off vehicle for motoring magazine Octane. In the resulting tale he featured the newspaper office based near the St Margaret’s home of Bond writer Ian Fleming – and he included the characters of Mercury editor Graham Smith and reporter Eleanor Perkins.

An Aston Martin DB24 in the East Kent Mercury car park
An Aston Martin DB24 in the East Kent Mercury car park

Mr Barzilay said: “We would normally write it following the route of Goldfinger and we drove the car and it was fantastic but I thought, well, how would Fleming have looked at this?

“Why don’t we write it as a thriller?

“I had to come up with the idea for the thriller. I think Fleming would have incorporated local bits and pieces.

“I started to think about the story. It had to involve cars and things that were going on at the time.

“There was a United Nations directive at the time about the importation of heroin, that was mentioned in Goldfinger.

“I thought can I weave that into the plot? And that’s when I thought the connection with the local newspaper and the guy advertising cars and so on.”

Former journalist David Barzilay with editor Graham Smith and the car.
Former journalist David Barzilay with editor Graham Smith and the car.

During his visit to the Mercury offices with the car (nicknamed Gloria), Mr Barzilay and editor Graham Smith talked about his role in the story while professional photographs were also taken to assist the short story in Octane magazine.

Claims that the car was Fleming’s inspiration for the original James Bond Aston Martin in Goldfinger excited interest among Mercury readers after we published the story in January.

Mr Barzilay added: “In Goldfinger, it talks about the car having reinforced bumpers which this does. It talks about the car having special cubby holes which it does.

“It talks about special suppression and connection for radio which this car has, so when you put all of that together, with who it was owned by, Philip Cunliffe-Lister – his father being of MI5 – all the links are here.

“Is this the car Ian Fleming based the story of Goldfinger on? We’ll never be 100% certain but there’s too many coincidences for it not to be.

“It’s a great story, Fleming would have loved it and it’s just the thing Fleming would have written about – the whole intrigue about this car and so on.”

A cubby hole for tools
A cubby hole for tools

The motor will be one of 90 on sale at the auction.

COYS auctioneer Guy Newton said: “This will be the highlight lot.

“We will looking for offers in excess of £250,000 but would expect it to go for considerably more.”

Owner Dan Walford, of Deal, who restored the vehicle with his father, said: “It was like having an affair with a supermodel – she was never mine to keep.

“I’m proud of the fact I put it on its journey but if you love something, you’ve got to let it go.

“Somebody else may own it but I will always be the one who built it,” he said proudly.

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