BBC Autos

The Roundabout Blog

For 007, a swinging new novel and charismatic new car

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.

 

James Bond goes 'Solo'

(Leon Neal / AFP / Getty Images)

Superspy James Bond is forever linked to his Aston Martin DB5. The silver star of six 007 films, starting with 1964’s Goldfinger, the Aston is a much a part of Bond lore as the Walther PPK and the dry martini, shaken and not stirred.

But Bond’s automotive tastes have historically included a variety of cars. He was a Bentley man in creator Ian Fleming’s early novels, an affinity he revisited behind the wheel of a Continental GT in 2011's Carte Blanche, a novel by the American writer Jeffrey Deaver. And over the years, on the page and the big screen, he has piloted cars from Lotus, BMW and even Sunbeam.

In the new novel Solo, by British author William Boyd, Britain’s prototypical secret agent puts some hard miles on yet another piece of English exotica, the Jensen FF. The car, of which a scant 320 were produced between 1966 and 1971, featured a 383-cubic-inch Chrysler V8 engine, anti-lock brakes and – preceding Audi’s Quattro by more than a decade – four-wheel drive.

Set in 1969, Solo follows James Bond – who has just turned 45 years old – as he attempts to quash a rebel uprising in the West African country of Zanzarim, a fictional nation that Boyd (himself born in Ghana) modelled on the war-torn Nigeria of the 1960s.

The first Bond novel to earn the blessing of the Fleming estate since Carte Blanche, Solo saw a decidedly glamourous pre-release photo-op on 25 September at London’s posh Dorchester Hotel, London – a location that figures prominently in the book. A caravan of Jensens transported the first seven copies of Solo, signed by the author and locked in transparent attaché cases, to Heathrow airport, where they were promptly jetted (via British Airways, naturally) to cities with links to Bond or Boyd: Amsterdam, Cape Town, Edinburgh, Los Angeles, New Delhi, Sydney and Zurich. The novel lands in UK bookstores on 26 September; the rest of the world will have to wait until 8 October.

Lucy Fleming, niece of author Ian, said that her late uncle would have been thrilled with the book release. “He’d be looking down on us today – or up – with a big grin on his face.”