Five decades’ worth of James Bond movies have left us believing that 007 was a dyed-in-the-wool Aston Martin man, whereas author Ian Fleming’s original character was really more of a Bentley boy.
In Casino Royale, the first Bond book, he describes a four-and-a-half-litre Bentley with Amherst Villier supercharger as Bond’s “only personal hobby” – but it’s in the 1961 novel Thunderball that he really goes to town on 007’s wheels, giving the agent “the most selfish car in England… a MK II Continental Bentley that some idiot had married to a telegraph pole on the Great West Road.
“Bond had bought the bits for £1,500 and Rolls had straightened the bend in the chassis and fitted new clockwork – the MK VI engine with 9.5 compression. Then Bond had gone to Mulliners with £3,000, which was half his total capital, and they had sawn off the old, cramped sports saloon body and fitted a trim, rather square, convertible two-seater affair.”
Bond’s long-standing love affair with the noble British marque is now being celebrated in a £750 special edition of Casino Royal – on sale from Friday November 1 – that has been produced by publisher Random House in conjunction with Bentley Motors in order to mark the book’s 60th anniversary.
The work of Random House designers Kris Potter and Stephen Parker, the book (first picture) is bound in the same Italian, hand-stitched beluga-coloured leather used for Bentley upholstery and supplied in a matching case with a knurled metal spine and luxurious, red leather lining (second picture). Inside, a “secret compartment” contains a set of bespoke “Bentley Bond” playing cards that pay homage to Casino Royale’s gambling theme.
Each of the 500 editions carries a uniquely numbered “engine plate” and contains an introduction by Sir Stirling Moss and brush illustrations by award-winning artist Damian Gascoigne.