With the new spy exhibition on at the Museum I thought I’d write about what was probably the most popular diecast toy car ever produced, the gold Aston Martin DB5 as seen in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. It was made by Corgi, the English toy car manufacturer established in 1956 by Mettoy. Corgi cars had exciting (for the time) features like plastic windows from 1956, spring suspension from 1959 and opening doors, folding seats and opening bonnets from 1963.
The James Bond Aston Martin DB5 has a front machine gun, rear bullet-proof shield, and best of all, an operating front passenger ejector seat. When it came out the car was a huge success. It was said that in staff cafeterias all over Britain, before giving the toy to their sons, fathers would be seen “testing” the mechanism that fired the gunman through the opening roof, covering their teacups to stop James Bond’s unwanted passenger from dropping in. Another slightly larger version of the car was released in 1968 painted silver with rotating number plates and telescopic tyre slashers.
One of the reasons why Corgi cars were especially popular in the 1960s was the attractively-designed boxes with lots of extras, inserts and instructions. This example in our collection has all the packaging including the genuine “007” stickers, amazingly still attached to their original backing, which the owner of the car was supposed to hide under his shirt collar or coat lapel. Yes play was unsophisticated in those days and English boys were still wearing coats in the 1960s.
The James Bond Aston Martin was launched in November 1965 and was acclaimed as the Toy of the Year by the British National Association of toy retailers. During its three-year production run it became one of the most popular toys ever made with nearly three million sold. It was also very popular in Australia.
Post by Margaret Simpson, Curator