Casino royal treatment

Bentley collaborates on a luxe edition of 007’s debut appearance

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.

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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.

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