Bill Woodhouse is a remarkable man with an enviable career who not only co-founded Tornado Cars Ltd and designed the company’s Cosworth powered Talisman worked for Aston Martin Lagonda where as Service Depot manager he accompanied the gadget strewn James Bond Goldfinger DB5 to photo shoots and TV programmes. Bill shares some of his tales of his time spent with the James Bond Goldfinger DB5.
The James Bond Goldfinger DB5 is a car I know well as I was given responsibility for looking after it when I was the AML factory Service Depot manager. If you ever drive that car (we can only wish Bill – Ed) you would realise why it wouldn’t be suitable for high speed shots as it was desperately overweight with all the gadgetry, not least the truly bullet proof screen. The Development Department took Cubby Broccoli’s brief too literally and made it of inch thick bullet proof steel and this needed very powerful hydraulic jacks to raise and lower it. If they had realised how film studios work it could have been made of aluminium coated honeycomb, like when you see the bullets hitting, which was done in the studio. The tyre slashing cutters were also done in the studio using a lathe head stock.
I did have some amusing incidents with the James Bond Goldfinger DB5. The main photo to prove the point is taken in Hyde Park, when I was ordered to rush the car down for some pre-premiere publicity shots. They didn’t tell me I was going to play James Bond and nor did I get modelling fees but they did at least send me the picture.
One day whilst sitting in my office the telephone rang. Aston Martin Lagonda’s then Managing Director, Steve Heggie, was buzzing with excitement.
“Bill we have been asked to let the James Bond DB5 appear on the ‘Jimmy Tarbuck Show’. Could you please get it down there this afternoon and stay with it until the end of the show?”
Arriving at Elstree I watched the dress rehearsal and then rang Steve Heggie suggesting I should pull the car out at once! “What is the problem?” “Well Steve the scene is “Q” shows Tarbuck, playing Bond, all the gadgets and builds the car up as a wonder car. Tarbuck then gets in and the car won’t start (they had removed the rotor arm). Huge hilarity from the audience and the car is ignominiously pushed off stage.”
After a long pause a deflated Steve Heggie sighs and says if you pull it out we might get even worse publicity so stay with it. I then enjoyed a very good supper in the canteen and saw the “Emergency Ward Ten” team coming down from their studio all dressed in bright yellow uniforms. I was told in those days of black and white TV yellow came over as whiter than white. The actual show went brilliantly. The audience loved it and applauded loudly as directed by the boards displayed.
As by now it was late I had arranged to stay the night with my wife Ann’s parents in Northwood rather than drive to Newport Pagnell. Driving up Golders’ Green High Street in the James Bond Goldfinger DB5, scrupulously sticking to the speed limits, I was surprised to hear a Police Siren behind me to then have a Wolsey pass me with orders to STOP. Getting out I asked the PC was there a problem? “What number plate are you intending to show?” I then realised the number plates had started to revolve showing half the Swiss one. There was no way of locking the mechanism. They worked on a simple revolving wire to the right hand of the driver’s seat relying on friction.
The PC knew exactly what he had stopped and merely wanted to have all the gadgets shows to him. He particularly liked the rear-light clusters which on one side discharged pitons and the other oil. He reckoned all Police Cars should be so fitted. So half an hour later and now best of friends with the PC, I was on my way again with a warning to display the right number plates. When I eventually arrived at Northwood Ann’s young brother had alerted all his friends the James Bond Goldfinger DB5 car was arriving and so I had to go through the routine all over again.
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