Getting Up Close to the Actual James Bond Aston Martin Valhalla
Fresh from the set of No Time To Die... and it was a bit broken!
What did you think of the new Bond film? As a fan of the franchise for pretty much my whole life, I naturally got the earliest ticket I could on the opening release day (30th September) and sat giddy at the toes for the most anticipated screening event for almost two whole years.
I won't spoil too much as there may be an actual film review coming, but it was a clever blend of both George Lazenby-esque and up-to-date emotional conventions. If Spectre was heavily criticised for being an old dog in a field of changing social attitudes, then No Time To Die was an incredible apology for that slight disaster of a film.
But it wasn't just the emotional side of things that was anticipated, there was a strong promise of Aston Martin action; and while I felt the Living Daylights V8 could've done with a lot more screen time, there was a nice reference of past, present and future for the brand. This of course, came in the form of the DB5, V8, DBS Superleggera and although you had to be eagle-eyed, a rather intriguing prototype at the end of a wind tunnel at MI6.
That prototype was the Valhalla; and rather astonishingly, the actual prop car used in the film was being displayed at an Aston Martin dealer in Nottingham just two miles from my home! Naturally, I had to head down and check it out.
What are we looking at then?
Take my word for it: it was nigh-on impossible to get a decent landscape image!
Aston's hypercar game is both rather aggressive and possibly laughable at the same time. But as of 2018/2019 (nicer pre-pandemic times, you could say), the marque had planned three!
The first being the Valkyrie: that's the big V12-powered £3-million thing whose aid designer was Adrian Newey and being co-developed by the Red Bull F1 team.
The car that sits below the V12 Valkyrie will be the Valhalla priced at a slightly more 'reasonable' £1-million or thereabouts. Both cars use names from Norse mythology with Valkyrie being the host of female figures who get to choose which warriors live or die. Half of those who die are taken to the afterlife hall of the slain, named Valhalla.
The Valhalla (in prototype form) was supposed to have a twin-turbocharged V6 engine and like it's bigger brother, use Formula One technology to make it one of the most advanced street legal things... ever!
Just look at it!
Things changed for the production Valhalla (more on that later) but when filming for No Time To Die, Aston very kindly lent the Bond producers one of their prototypes for a short cameo in the film.
This is the actual car you see in the film: the one that M (Ralph Finnes) stands in front of at the end of a wind tunnel in MI6 headquarters. Look, I've seen film props before with the Harry Potter ones in Warner Bros Studios being notable, but the Valhalla from Bond has to be the coolest.
Never has an Aston Martin stood out more from its peers than this one. Suddenly, the DBS' and DB11s in the dealer looked like big, lumpy dinosaurs next to the crisp, precisely thought-through Valhalla. It's not like any Aston you've seen before and as far as supercar/hypercar design goes, it's absolutely spectacular. This and the Valkyrie are what supercars should look like; after seeing it up close, you can't help but realise that the design of so many expensive million-pound stuff is just too safe and un-daring.
The Quirks and Details
A rather striking cabin
Spending time simply taking in this intimidating beast also meant noticing little quirks. Such bits that include those that would've had a function, had the Valhalla made production in this form.
What was equally amazing is that considering this was a prototype shell car without an engine or... well, anything for that matter, the attention to detail was quite amazing.
This little plaque that hides underneath the door represents the Valhalla's original code name: AM-RB-003 - meaning Aston Martin-Red Bull's third project. The first two being the Valkyrie and the Valkyrie AMR Pro.
But what about the functions?
Positioned just at the front of the door, this little thing would've been the camera mirror which would've been projected onto the infotainment screen. But of course, it was a mock-up!
And that ladies and gentlemen, is the door handle - incredibly classy for a lightweight, track-focused car.
You can quickly begin to tell that Red Bull F1 played a rather enormous role in designing the Valhalla's aerodynamic bits. Never before have I witnessed such enormous gaps and vents between the bodywork and God only knows how much downforce all this creates when - if it was ever possible - this car was thundering around the swoopy curves at Silverstone.
It's such an incredible demonstration of Formula One technology being applied to a road car.
Even the headlights were sculptured and created like they belong in a Parisian art gallery.
It's incredible to think how far design has come with the technology and facilities we now possess.
(Also note how what I believe to be a wrap, is starting to peel away).
The broken bits!
Yep, you're seeing the image above correctly.
As this Valhalla was a shell car with no driving functionality, you can never expect it to be completely perfect. Still, it was rather hilarious to observe the little faults.
The most obvious being only one 'exhaust'! Now, where did the other one go...?
As we can see here, the diffuser wasn't exactly holding up too well! Perhaps it was at the premier and started to fall apart after seeing the ending...
Let's just hope the production cars aren't built like chocolate flakes.
I think this is where either the reflector or reverse light is supposed to go. Much inspired by an F1 car and indeed some Ferraris.
But as we can - or rather we can't - see here, it's gone missing. We may never know what the object that once stood here looked like.
Other notable quirks
It had McLaren Senna-esque seats which didn't seem to be adjustable. I would imagine this Valhalla iteration would've adopted the Ford GT's style of driver adjustment whereby you move the steering wheel and pedals instead.
Still, how cool do they look!
Imagine glancing upon this every time you open the door - how nice!
That badge has to be the slickest design I've ever seen on an Aston Martin. It's surprising to see that they didn't just use a sticker, but clearly the brand name and wings mean a lot to customers, so having it as a physical badge seems a lot more special.
As for the brakes, I imagine they're just mock-ups that demonstrate where actual carbon ceramic discs would go.
To conclude the interesting quirks of the James Bond Valhalla, here are some vents which don't have any use whatsoever. Why would they when this car doesn't have an engine!
But nevertheless, it was a real privilege to get up close to an actual Bond car and what represents Aston Martin's future. My upmost thanks and appreciation goes to Aston Martin Nottingham for allowing me in to see it!
So, you may be wondering: when will the Valhalla eventually hit the streets?
The production car
Image: Aston Martin Media
Just recently, Aston unveiled what the Valhalla would become as their production car. And to be frankly honest, I'm personally a bit disappointed.
I'm sure that adopting the AMG GT Black Series V8 is more sensible than the original idea of a presumably F1-derived V6, but suddenly it seems more safe than daring from an engineering perspective.
Image: Aston Martin Media
But then there's the styling: after seeing the prototype Valhalla, I'm looking at the production car and thinking that it's a bit of a mess and uses more conventional styling cues than the original design.
As feasible as the production car is, I just wished they adopted the original Valhalla - because it really stuns you. Not just with its aerodynamics, but it's wonderful sense of simplicity. The production car seems a bit fussy in comparison.
But eh, that's just my opinion. But thank you very much for reading nonetheless!