|It’s as if one of the most stunning places in the world has just been set in aspic|
Her journey through the Swiss Alps had brought her to the Furka Pass and, when Goldfinger stopped for a bite to eat, the perfect opportunity presented itself. Three hairpin bends below was the Rolls-Royce; time to jump out, scramble down the bank and take aim at the 1938 Phantom III.
It’s the classic scene from Goldfinger, where actress Tania Mallet takes a shot at Goldfinger, played by Gert Frobe, while James Bond – who is also in pursuit of the evil genius – stands beside his DB5 on a curve in-between.
But this is happening now. Almost 45 years on, it’s still a magical scene. It was in this sequence in Goldfinger that the DB5 came into its own. Although its cinematic presence amounted to a mere 13 minutes in this film and Thunderball, it has become as much of a screen icon as Bond himself.
I came up with the idea of recreating the scene last year after driving the recently launched Aston Martin DBS on the Beaujolais Run, thinking that it would be great to take an original film car back to the Furka Pass. Aston Martin agreed, and we eventually expanded the idea to include Daniel Craig’s DBS and a Roush-tuned Shelby-Mustang GT500 for today’s Tilly.
The problem was finding the cars. There were originally four Bond DB5s: two for action photography and a pair for close-ups. One was stolen from its owner in the USA, never to be seen again; one is in private hands; another is in a museum in Texas; and the final one resides in a museum in Holland. And we weren’t about to persuade the owners to let them go to Switzerland.
The original Mustang’s whereabouts are also unknown, so ‘making do’ with one of the best examples in Europe, and hoping its owner is a Bond fan, seemed like a good back-up plan. As for persuading Tania Mallet, now 67, to return to Switzerland and take part in what many people thought was a crazy idea was obviously too much to hope for.
A swift call to Tania asking the question proved I wasn’t crazy at all.
She was only too happy to help. ‘What a great idea! I have never been
back and I would love to: it would be a dream come true for me.’
Roping in the DB5 and Rolls-Royce was also surprisingly straightforward. Aston Martin specialist Richard Williams contacted one of his clients, David Murphy, a Dublin-based architect. David’s initial response to the plan was a very Bondian, ‘You’re joking!’, before agreeing to bring his car along. Tim Neale, who regularly displays his Rolls-Royce Phantom III on the British show circuit, was also a willing volunteer for the Swiss adventure.
Then came the most difficult task of all – finding a 1964 Ford Mustang convertible. The Mustang Club of Great Britain just couldn’t come up with an exact match in the UK but, after I’d put the feelers out in Europe, Swiss Mustang collector and expert Peter Lanz offered his car. ‘I am sorry,’ he said. ‘Mine’s a 1966 with a slightly different grille and side panel ornaments.’ You would have to be a true Mustang aficionado to tell the difference, though, and because of that, we said yes – and with that, we had our cars.
We’d agreed to meet Peter and his Mustang near Lucerne on a Friday morning, the shoot due to take place over the following two days. Keith Adams, Octane’s new assistant editor and a great Bond fan, became enthused with the idea. He’d suggested bringing the story up to date by throwing in a new Shelby Mustang, to see how it would perform against the old Mustang – and more importantly, against Daniel Craig’s DBS.
We now had the cars, the Bond girl, and our location – and what an adventure it was to be.
So, on a cold morning at the end of September, we pick up the actual DBS used in the new film Quantum of Solace, meet up with David Murphy and his pristine DB5, and head for the Channel Tunnel. If the positive response from other drivers on the M25 is anything to go by, we’re in for a great time. This is going to be one of the most memorable stories I have ever been involved in – reuniting a Bond girl with her original props and film location.
Cruising through Northern France in the DB5 and the DBS, even the grotty weather fails to dampen our spirits. The forecast for the weekend is good and our cars are performing faultlessly. Murphy is so excited that every other remark is delivered in a surprisingly accurate James Bond accent. How would Tania Mallet react to that?
The DBS effortlessly devours the miles – and with 510bhp to play with, the 500-mile day on the eerily deserted French autoroute network is just what this supercar is built for. Considering it has a near-200mph top speed and a chassis set-up honed for the circuit, it’s as capable as an executive saloon at the 80mph canter. Having said that, the DB5 is no slouch, either – and it’s the older car that turns more heads.
Murphy’s DB5 looks fantastic. Every time we stop, it’s washed and
polished, and at the start of each morning both cars are treated to a
major brush-up – after all, we are acting as ambassadors for Aston
Martin. Everywhere we go there’s huge interest. When Mustang owner
Peter hooks up with us on the Swiss border he’s obviously having
trouble containing his excitement. Rushing into our hotel, he describes
the trip we’re about to undertake as the ‘ultimate experience of his
The following morning, and the convoy has now swollen to three, with the DBS, DB5 and Mustang carving a niche through the beautiful Valais countryside towards Andermatt – and, ultimately, the Furka Pass. There’s still one problem, though: I know where most of the scenes were shot – the Belvedere Hotel, on the top of the pass; Realp, on the road to Andermatt, where Bond slashes the Mustang’s tyres; the garage where Bond drops off Tilly – but where’s the location of the actual rifle shoot?
After hours of scouring maps of the area and driving up and down the Furka Pass, we’re still unsure – and, even with the help of Switzerland Tourism and our two Bond enthusiasts, it’s not looking good. Adding pressure to our quest, I know the first question that Tania Mallet will ask after she arrives is whether we’ve found our location.
When she turns up the following morning my fears are proved correct. It’s clear that she’s excited by the reunion. Such is Tania’s enthusiasm that she has scoured her wardrobe to find a grey skirt and silk shirt similar to her original outfit, and is determined to take the exact shot again.
A few minutes later, in front of a roaring log fire, I admit to Tania that we haven’t found the location. ‘Ah, but you will’, she smiles warmly, before recounting the story of how she was chosen for the film and drove the first Ford Mustang convertible to be sent to Europe.
‘It was a huge coup for Ford,’ she says. ‘The car was sent from America, and when it arrived on the set it was still wrapped up so that no-one could see what it looked like. I was horrified, it seemed huge. I had passed my test only two weeks before, and had never driven a high-performance car, and not on the wrong side of the road.’
As Saturday morning dawns and the sun rises from behind the Weisshorn, we know it’s building up to be a great day. The Aston Martin DB5 and the Mustang drivers decide to go hell-for-leather up and down the pass while we wait for Keith to arrive in the Shelby Mustang. I set off with Peter and the Switzerland Tourism guide in a last attempt to find the correct location.
In the meantime, our presence on the Furka Pass is causing something of a sensation, and word has spread. It’s a location that attracts its fair share of interesting cars but, despite this, a growing number of people are stopping to see what’s going on. Many put two and two together when they see the DB5, Mustang and Rolls-Royce – but when Keith turns up in the new Shelby Mustang, the package is completed.
However, the moment becomes perfect when Tania makes an entrance to join the cars – it’s clear from her first sighting of the Mustang that this is going to be an emotional moment for her. A long, lingering look at the Ford, followed by a close examination of the DB5, puts a big smile on her face and relaxes her completely. It’s 1964 all over again – all that’s now missing is Cubby Broccoli’s film crew and the hustle of a movie set in full swing.
While Tania’s enjoying the moment, Peter disappears for another run up the pass in his Mustang. Within minutes, he returns, smiling – he’s definitely found the location where Tilly took her shot at Goldfinger in the film. Excellent. Finally, everything is now in place for tomorrow’s recreation, and Tania is clearly delighted.
The following morning is glorious, and opens with the sound of the DBS and the new Mustang driving up the pass, bellowing engines echoing off the mountains. It’s a demonstration of how things might have looked had Goldfinger been shot in 2008.
Now it’s Keith’s turn to smile: ‘With 540bhp, the Shelby Mustang is more powerful than Bond’s Aston Martin DBS that everyone is drooling over. Climbing and twisting up the Furka has been exhilarating – and I’m easily able to keep pace with the Aston. Bond wouldn’t have enjoyed quite the same advantage back in 1964.’
But now it’s time for the main event – getting Tania in position for her big shot. Wearing her outfit, and carrying the high-powered hunting rifle we’d managed to borrow, she heads for the spot high on the pass. Within minutes, she’s clambering down the side of the mountain while displaying all the poise she must have done on the original shoot. Soon she’s positioning herself for the shot and, downplaying the emotion of the moment, she says, smiling, ‘I’m not really in the right shoes for rock climbing.’
There’s a brief discussion about whether the rock in question is the right rock before Tania gets into position, sights her rifle on Tim Neale’s Rolls-Royce Phantom III, takes a deep breath, and… we get our picture.
Now there’s just one thing left to do: drive Tania to the garage in Andermatt where James Bond dropped off Tilly. It’s a route that just happens to take in the location where the tyres on her Mustang were slashed. The roads on the way to the petrol station have not changed at all, and are immediately obvious to any James Bond fan. Somehow, our convoy looks right here.
By the time we arrive in Andermatt to reunite Tania with her last daytime appearance in the film, she’s entertaining everyone with her Bond film recollections – it’s difficult to believe we were all talking about events that took place almost 45 years ago.
Ever the professional, and effortlessly turning on an easy smile for the camera, Tania drapes herself over Murphy’s Aston Martin and becomes Tilly again for the final time during the weekend.
Bringing Tania Mallet back to Andermatt, along with five cars, may have seemed like a crazy idea at the time, but it was one that will re-ignite fond memories for Aston Martin and Bond fans around the world. It also shows what a group of enthusiasts can do when they put their minds to it.
But, more than that, it provided one of the stars of the film with memories that will stay with her forever – as Tania Mallet put it: ‘Switzerland and the locations haven’t changed a bit. It is as if one of the most stunning places in the world has just been set in aspic, and it’s there for everyone to enjoy.’