Writing: Chris Pollitt
Photos: Bruce Holder
James Bond, for some unknown reason, has never driven a Morgan. Here at MOG, that set us to thinking – what would it be like if he did? We grabbed an Aeromax and plotted a course of some Bond landmarks and found out…
First of all, we’re sorry. you’ve got the James Bond theme tune running through your head now, haven’t you? That’s our doing, but it’s okay because it’s most befitting.
While recently discussing the release of the new Bond flick, Spectre, we at Mog towers found the conversation turning to that of the cars Bond has driven over the years. We’ve had the greats, such as the DB5, the Lotus Esprit and so on. There were the ‘fun’ ones, such as the Renault 11 that got chopped in half, or the yellow Citroen 2CV that was taken off-roading by Roger Moore. Then of course, we have the tragic errors in judgement by the production team, cars like the BMW Z3 for example. Bond, in a Z3… what were they thinking?
After getting over being offended by BMWs, we naturally started to ponder over why Bond has never driven a Morgan? Surely it’s the perfect car? It’s slick, it’s fast, it’s British from bumper to bumper and with its handmade credentials, it would have been a doddle for Q to work with the team at Pickersleigh road in the name of fitting a bevvy of exciting gadgets.
Much as we loved the fantasy of Bond outrunning baddies in their stereotypical black saloons, swerving violently along a sheer mountain pass in a hail of gunfire with the soundtrack of screeching tyres and revving engines, we had to accept the reality that it’s a scenario never to happen with a Morgan. so, with a resigned sigh, we went back about our business. Until, that is, we decided to see what Mog could to do bring the Bond/Morgan fantasy to life, just a little bit.
“We naturally started to ponder over why Bond has never driven a Morgan? Surely it’s the perfect car? It’s slick, it’s fast, it’s British from bumper to bumper and with handmade credentials”
It’s no secret that old James is a bit of a jetsetter, but even so, his heart lies with Queen and country. he’s proud to be British, and as such, there are many backdrops throughout the chronicles of Bond that are seated firmly on British soil. With that in mind, we drew up a list and with it we would put Morgan on the Bond map. The only thing we needed, of course, was an actual Morgan to display in front of those aforementioned locales.
We looked first at the Plus 4. it’s a solid all-rounder, it’s got an element of pace when it’s needed, and it’s undeniably classy. However, it doesn’t quite have the same sense of occasion as other Bond vehicles, and that’s a quality we needed.
The 3 Wheeler was a strong, strong contender at first. British engineering, it’s mad as a box of frogs, it’s noisy, fast, and with the complete lack of roof, it has lots of room for James to wave his Walther around. It really is the perfect Bond vehicle, but only in a crisis, in a chase, when peril is afoot. It’s not the right car for Bond to be trundling along in while trying to woo Vesper lynd – she’d get flies in her teeth.
There’s only one logical choice from Morgan’s offerings, and that’s a V8 car. Offering both stealthy subtlety along with breakneck speed and power when required, a V8 Morgan is all things to all Bonds. an Aero Coupe is the automotive embodiment of drama while maintaining charm, but even so, that wouldn’t do. What would do, what would be perfect thanks to both its effortless style and brutish power, was the Aeromax. Luckily for Mog, there was one at the factory with the keys still in the ignition. We grabbed a photographer and in a roar of deep BMW V8 tones, we headed for the Capital.
The first venue would be the most private, but arguably most stunning of the day – Stoke Park Country Club, spa and hotel. a magnificent building created in 1788 by architect James Wya, it was originally a private home. however, in 1908 it became the resort it is today, growing facilities over the years to include rooms, a spa, tennis courts and a gym. however, the gentlemanly pursuit of golf is what truly puts Stoke Park on the map. it’s also what put it on the James Bond radar care of the tense golfing battle between Bond (Sean Connery) and auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), culminating on the 18th hole, right in front of the main building.
“And that’s a V8 car. Offering both stealthy subtlety along with breakneck speed and power when required, a V8 Morgan is all things to all Bonds”
Goldfinger wasn’t the only time the estate featured in a Bond film. It also made a brief appearance in tomorrow Never dies, once again cementing its place as a Bond favourite. The links don’t stop there, either. Stoke Park has also aided in the filming of another, some would say the greatest, Bond, albeit before the actor took the role. Yes, if it seems familiar, that’s because it was also in Layer Cake, starring Daniel Craig – this place really does have some Bond-based kudos!
Strangely enough, Sean Connery wasn’t available to stand in for us, so instead (and care of the wonderfully helpful Nick – Stoke Park’s PR man) we opted to drop the Aeromax on the rough just behind the 18th hole. as you can see, it fits right in, leaving us to imagine what could have been, had Bond sunk that last ball before heading for the horizon leaving behind nothing but the throaty roar of a V8.
We decided to hotfoot it before we were painted gold, or shot at. Our next destination would be factual rather than fictional – we were heading to the home of the Bond franchise, also known as Pinewood studios. It took some spy-like manoeuvring to get the shot, dodging traffic and trying not to spook security, but in true Bond fashion, we accomplished our mission before heading into the Capital. Sadly we couldn’t get in to have a look at the famous Bond studio, built in 1967 for The Spy Who loved Me. That’s okay though, as Bond has no time for sightseeing – we were on a mission!
Prowling into the Capital in the Aeromax, we begin to further consider our feelings about it being a more than suitable car for he who likes things shaken, not stirred. There’s a sense of occasion, people stop in their tracks and look at it, faces agog with wonderment and fascination. Not many know what it is, but what they do know, is that it’s special. it’s important. and, most importantly of all for anything Bond gets the keys to, it’s cool. something that becomes even more evident when we park up outside Les Ambassadeurs Club, the place where Bond kicked back for a Martini and a gamble in the ionic Dr. No.
“Our next destination would be factual rather than fictional – we were heading to the home of the Bond franchise, also known as Pinewood Studios”
There’s no time for cards today though, so with a few shots grabbed, it’s once again time to distract the london populace with our rare Morgan. as anticipated, the cameras and camera phones came out en masse. The Aeromax, while elegant in its proportions and audibly restrained during its slow meander through London, is still an a ention-grabber. at one point we even see a black aston Martin dBs approach. it’s the very same car as driven in the opening chase of Quantum of solace, but in the company of the Morgan it may as well be a Ford Cortina – nobody bats an eyelid. as we pull into the tight courtyard frontage of the dukes hotel – the place Bond creator ian Fleming used to frequent, and also the supposed inspiration for the ‘shaken, not stirred’ line – we can’t help but ponder as to whether or not James would prefer more subtlety?
Subtlety was something needed in a big way when it came to the penultimate destination on our list of Bond’s London landmarks. as we loitered, V8 burbling, outside the old War office Building in Whitehall, we couldn’t help notice we’d earned the attention of the armed officers patrolling the perimeter. Like Bond though, we wouldn’t be deterred – it was our mission to get a shot of the Aeromax outside the building used as MI6 headquarters in Octopussy, View To A Kill and Licence To Kill, and get a shot we did. All without actually getting shot, which was something of a result.
As we approached the Thames, passing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the process, we were once again reminded of the Morgan’s impressive ability to draw a crowd. There’s no way James could do anything stealthy in this car, just no way at all. he’d be all over instagram and twitter before he’d got to the James of “Bond, James Bond”.
With our anonymity declining at a rapid rate, it was time to make a break from the Capital and return the Aeromax to Wood division back in Malvern. Our mission had been simple in premise, but near impossible to execute in a style any of the Bonds would have been satisfied with. There have been many films made where the car has been the star, too. The Bond franchise is very much a perfect representation of that, with the Astons, BMWs and event the Mercedes Saloons and the like that have become vehicular synonyms for global baddies. The thing is though, all those cars have made way gracefully for the actor, they have known their role in the film and they’ve stuck to it accordingly. As we drive over Vauxhall Bridge with the very real MI5 (but MI6 in the films) in our rear-view mirror, we can’t help but think that the Morgan Aeromax is a celebrity in its own right. It garners a spectrum of attention that transcends age and gender, it’s a spectacle no matter what your thoughts on cars may be. it’s not subtle, it’s not discreet and it’s never going to be happy to play second fiddle to some bloke in a dinner jacket who keeps sleeping with exotic ladies while drinking far too much. It’s not even that it wants to be centre stage. It just is!
“There’s no way James could do anything stealthy in this car, just no way at all. He’d be all over Instagram and Twitter”
So, in conclusion then, after placing this iconic car in front of a selection of iconic locations, could it be Bond’s wheels? should we write a letter to the producers of Bond 25 and insist they use a Morgan? No, we think not. Bond is a force to be reckoned with, a man on a mission with a licence to kill. he needs something to work with him, not eclipse him, which is what the Morgan would do effortlessly. The Morgan is a star in its own right, and that is always going to be the case.
“As we drive over Vauxhall Bridge with the very real MI5 (but MI6 in the films) in our rear-view mirror, we can’t help but think that the Morgan Aeromax is a celebrity in its own right”