Capone With The Third & Final Installment Of His QUANTUM OF SOLACE London Adventure!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here, with the third and final report about my recent QUANTUM OF SOLACE adventures in London.
I've already filled you in on the centerpiece of my four-day, three-night journey--interviews with QUANTUM director Marc Forster and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig. I also filled you in on the activities that surrounded these interviews, including a trip to the legendary Pinewood Studios and high tea with Ian Fleming's niece, Lucy, the woman in charge of Ian Fleming Publications.
But what I didn't realize in doing the interviews, watching the 10 minutes of footage of QUANTUM OF SOLACE (as of this writing, I've now seen the entire finished film), drinking tea, and touring Pinewood was that all of this was just prologue to one of the coolest things that any true Bond geek would kill his grandparents to do. We got up early on our last full day in London, piled onto a bus, sleepy but hopeful, and drove to the unassuming town of Millbrook (about 1.5 hours outside of London by my watch) to the Millbrook Test Track. Now, this massive property houses dozens of different automotive test tracks featuring different configurations, road surfaces, and hazards. A few automobile manufacturers also have offices on the property, including Aston Martin. This isn't a dealership, per se, but more of a place where the dealers can bring potential buyers to really open up the vehicle perhaps for the first and only time the own the car. Millbrook has plenty of proper test tracks, but we were more interested in three specific ones designed to show off the Aston Martin's brand of handling, speed, and precision.
CLICK images to enlarge!
Now take a close look at the second photo. In the foreground, you'll see a black A-M that is the exact car Daniel Craig is driving in the opening chase scene of the new film. This isn't just the same make and model. This Is The Car. And if you look just behind it, you'll see a slightly banged up version of the same car, which is also in QUANTUM OF SOLACE later in that same sequence, but after Bond and those chasing him have put it through the ringer. Notice the missed driver's side door. Both of these cars were on display at the London premiere of the film.
Now take a look at these shots:
These are close-ups of the QUANTUM OF SOLACE car after the big opening chase sequence. This car is fucked up, but believe it or not, it still drives.
There were six online journalists on the trip, plus a handful of foreign entertainment writers on this particular leg of our journey. Here's the motley crew posing with the "chase" car:
Lest you think that we were brought all the way to Millbrook to pose next to cars, think again. There were about a half dozen Aston Martins on the lot ready for us to test drive on three of the property's test tracks. We were each taken out one at a time in one of four cars (depending on the track we were headed out to), including the pristine chase car. Aston Martin salespeople first drove us around as a passenger to show us the features of each car. Here are three of the cars we drove; I drove each one once.
Each writer went out individually based on a preset schedule. My first course was a two-mile, round, angled track with four lanes, each one designated with a mph marker. The markers were not speed limits, but rather the speed you had to reach to do something really scary and cool. The outermost lane was labeled "100 mph," which I found out meant that if you got the car up to exactly 100 mph, you could take your hands off the steering wheel and the car would stay right in that lane without steering. The combination of the angle of the track and the speed kept you in lane hands free, which I did with much trepidation and butt loads of fear. Soon after that I put my hands back on the wheel and got the vehicle up to about 140 mph, about 50 mph faster than I've ever driven in my life. Let me tell you that every little bump in the road sent my heart racing and squeezed my bladder a little tighter. But when you return to the main building after going that fast, you can't stop talking about it or wanted to repeat the experience.
The second track was very different. It was one designed to look and feel like a real-life mountainous road complete with treacherous hairpin turns, blind corners, and even a hill steep enough that we caught about a foot of air when the Aston Martin guy hit it. It was a like a rollercoaster ride with no tracks and nothing keeping us from piling into a tree or hillside. The first time through this course, you go in the pristine chase car as a passenger (there was no way they were letting us drive that specially made vehicle). The second time, you go through in a different car as the driver. This track is especially notable because it was used in CASINO ROYALE in the sequence where Bond flips his car down a hill; you can still see the patch in the road where his car hit and took out a piece of pavement. Now, I know that Aston Martins cannot flip over, and I saw my driver got well over 80 mph around some of the most dangerous turns and corners imaginable, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and just floor it. The Aston Martin salesman told me exactly what was coming up next, when to accelerate and when to brake, but mostly I just trusted the incredible handling of the car and my flawed instincts. Driving like that goes against everything I've ever been taught about operating a car, but it didn't take me long to unlearn 20-plus years of driving habits.
The third and final track was strictly about speed--a one-mile-long straightaway. Our only instruction was to floor it until we were told to brake. I think those of us who truly floored it, got the car up to 150 mph. It was during this seemingly simple task that I began to realize that not only was I going faster than I'd ever gone in my life, but that I was doing so in one of the most expensive and perfect vehicles ever created. It was one of those perfect moments that you just know you'll never forget. We each got to drive this track twice. The first time was about speed; the second time was an opportunity for the Aston Martin folks to show off the brakes. We got thing up to about 100 mph, then at about the half-mile mark, we were told to slam the brakes, as in "to the floor" slam the brakes. It's an abrupt but smooth-as-silk stop with zero skidding and no signs of the back up sliding out behind you. Sheer perfection on all counts.
Leaving Millbrook was like leaving a little slice of heaven. Odds are I'll never get behind the wheel of an Aston Martin again. But I can say for the rest of my life that I drove 150 mph in one, and spend many minutes just playing in their gloriousness. The next QUANTUM OF SOLACE thing you'll get from me will be my review in a couple of weeks.
CLICK images to enlarge!
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Nov. 3, 2008, 12:26 p.m. CST
by Baron Karza
Nov. 3, 2008, 12:44 p.m. CST
Here in Germany we drive 150 mph every day. I too was scared as hell at first, now it is the only way I drive. ANything below 120 is just too slow.
Nov. 3, 2008, 1:27 p.m. CST
by Stuntcock Mike
Less than 2 weeks to go! Woo Hooo!
Nov. 3, 2008, 1:31 p.m. CST
You're finally raking in some perks for working at aicn. That sounds really awesome, I'm jealous.<p> Capone, you're not the guy in the picture with the two honeys hanging off him, are you?
Nov. 3, 2008, 1:53 p.m. CST
He's third from left in the other row of people, not the one with honeys, although I feel like this type of place should just have honeys all over.
Nov. 3, 2008, 2:30 p.m. CST
You realise you can pick up a v8 vantage for 60-70k now? half price.. So perhaps get one and enjoy it every day :)
Nov. 3, 2008, 2:32 p.m. CST
I hate you so much right now.
Nov. 3, 2008, 2:52 p.m. CST
Nov. 3, 2008, 3:02 p.m. CST
Hey Capone, if this movie thing doesn't work out, you could always sell Aston Martins,'cuz damn if I don't want one now. Stupid fuckin' recession (and profound lack of funds throughout my entire life)!
Nov. 3, 2008, 3:24 p.m. CST
Nov. 3, 2008, 4:17 p.m. CST
by dr sauch
What were the other special tricks on the track that had the 100 mph thing?
Nov. 3, 2008, 4:26 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
I know that the film won't match up to Casino Royale (when was the last time there were two legitimately GREAT Bond movies in a row? I think you'd have to go all the way back to From Russia With Love/Goldfinger in 1963/64), but if the film just acts as a solid "epilogue" to CR (what with the ridiculously short running time, that seems most likely), I'll probably be happy. Just don't give us a Moonraker-level letdown, please.
Nov. 3, 2008, 6:20 p.m. CST
Thank you firefox for coming up with my subject line so I didn't have to. Must have done the subject line in a previous talkback and firefox remembered... oh well...<p> Just as long as QoS isn't as much a letdown as KOTCS, I'll be happy. I enjoyed Tomorrow Never Dies, World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. If I can enjoy those, I think it is safe to assume that I can enjoy anything Bond-related.<p> Except Lazenby. Fuck Lazenby.
Nov. 3, 2008, 7:38 p.m. CST
Lazenby was great, On Her Majesty's Secret Service was great, KOTCS was great, you're a fucktard.
Nov. 3, 2008, 7:44 p.m. CST
KOTCS was horrendous. I was one of those, most likely like you, who walked out of the theater thinking 'wow, that was fun... it was kinda like Last Crusade... so it must have been an Indiana Jones film...'<p> Upon further views, I found it unwatchable. How does one person go from dressing up like Indiana Jones for Halloween one year to hating the franchise the very next year? KOTCS was NOT great, but a major letdown for many Indiana Jones fans around the world.
Nov. 3, 2008, 9:55 p.m. CST
"I feel the need, the need for speed!" Capone - you are one lucky SOB.
Nov. 3, 2008, 10:11 p.m. CST
Ony got better with each repeat veiwing for me. To each his own I guess.
Nov. 3, 2008, 10:31 p.m. CST
He would have been primed to be the best Bond ever had he continued, could have done it into the 80s since he was 29 at OHMSS, there is no greater piece of Bond acting than the ending of OHMSS. Oh and Craig is not Bond.
Nov. 4, 2008, 3:23 a.m. CST
by Ian Holm's milky ass sweat
Did JB actually drive an AM in QoS? Cause the "black car" you were referring to is actually a DB-S....as is the car in the not-so-good condition. As some would guess Mr. Bond prefers a V12 to a V8-machine.
Nov. 4, 2008, 4:46 a.m. CST
Bond drives a DBS in the opening sequence to QoS, he also drove a DB-S in Casino Royale.
Nov. 4, 2008, 5:28 a.m. CST
by Mr Gorilla
At least that is true to the Bond tradition, right back to Fleming's books. Here's an extract from the original Quantum of Solace, the famous smoked-salmon sandwich scene: 'Bond opened his SMEG fridge and removed a pack of Waitrose Alaskan smoked salmon, before spreading some Country Life butter on a slice of Mother's Pride bread. Putting the salmon on top, he added some Schwartz cayenne pepper, squeezing on the juice of a lemon he had purchased at the local cornershop, M. Kahn and Sons. He then reached for a Sophie Conran Portmeiron plate, that he had purchased that winter from Peter Jones, and opened a bottle of...' etc. etc. ad infinitum.
Nov. 4, 2008, 6:04 a.m. CST
Jeremy Clarkeson from Top Gear would be fucking jealous. Top Gear is an immensely popular BBC show in UK about test driving cars and crashing them!
Nov. 4, 2008, 9:55 a.m. CST
I mostly blame Marc Foster. (and I'm a hardcore Bond fan)
Nov. 4, 2008, 9:56 a.m. CST
Damn refresh screen!!!! You are one lucky SOB for the Aston Martin day.
Nov. 4, 2008, 11:04 a.m. CST
hard to imagine that a car covered with talc and dented up with a rubber mallet could still manage to start, but i guess thats a tribute to fine automotive engineering.
Nov. 4, 2008, 12:18 p.m. CST
by Quake II
....as eats his smoked-salmon sandwich, he flips open his SONY VAIO laptop and checks his stocks, including his large share of Sony BMG music and Columbia/Tri Star Pictures. Bond then laces his Nike Air shoes and heads out on his assignment, stopping at the airport to board his British Airways flight bound for Columbia.....