Moore fan takes passion to a new level

| 30 Jun 2011

I was thrilled to see a car I once featured at last week’s Salon Privé. I say thrilled because it’s a] seriously cool and b] it’s at last getting some proper use in the hands of a pukka enthusiast who’s both a petrolhead and a film buff. And the car? The Aston Martin DBS V8 that famously featured in the early 1970s TV series The Persuaders driven by the suave Roger Moore alongside a red Dino 246GT at the hands of silver screen heartthrob, Tony Curtis.If you don’t know the series then I’ll give you the gist: two wealthy international playboys – one an English aristocrat (Lord Brett Sinclair, played by Moore) the other an ex- New York Brooklyn tough guy (Danny Wilde, played by Curtis) – smash up a hotel bar after crossing swords.In a bid to avoid jail, the pair end up ‘working’ for a judge (who, it turns out, engineered their encounter) and who’s seeking justice for some local criminals who managed to evade his powers.Nearly all of the 24 episodes include footage of the DBS and Dino being thrashed around the French Riviera while the first episode ’Overture’ opens with an epic car chase as Curtis (Dino) outruns Moore (DBS) after an accidental encounter upon leaving Nice airport. The chase sequence involves a dice between the two along scenic roads before the nimble 246GT pulls ahead of the V8 by a narrow margin – allowing Curtis the luxury of having his luggage carried by the hotel porter, while Moore is left to struggle with his bags. The evening ends badly as the pair take the bar apart.Actually the cars aren't quite as you see them as the DBS didn’t pack a V8. Demand for the larger-engined DBS (which was launched in six-pot form because Tadek Marek’s iconic dual-overhead cam wasn’t ready), was so great that Newport Pagnell couldn’t spare one at the time of the filming so it handed over a ‘six’ badged up to look like a V8 (they gave it V8 alloys too).It’s either that or Newport Pagnell management was too tight (or perhaps too skint, given Aston’s tumultuous financial history). Whatever the reason it’s all rather farcical, given how ‘in bed’ Aston Martin has been with James Bond flicks in recent years.But getting back to the Bahama Yellow version I salivated over at Salon Privé... this is a car that’s much coveted by Persuaders fans, particularly Ed Stratton (below) who is now its lucky keeper.

He’s a self-confessed Roger Moore fan who flogged the Lamborghini Islero that Moore drove in the The Man Who Haunted Himself (haven’t seen it but I’m told it’s an epic Moore number involving a Rover P5 being totalled after being chased by the Islero).

And when you see the Aston, it’s easy to appreciate why Stratton is so chuffed: the DBS is absolutely immaculate, having been comprehensively (and very expensively) restored by Works Service back in the late 1990s.I was pleased to see it in Stratton’s hands. In fact the way he came to buy the car is rather ironic, in a sense.When Ed first decided to track the car down he was told by those who knew of its whereabouts that it would simply never be for sale. Then when AM’s Works Service boss Kingsley Riding-Felce kindly agreed to forward an email from Ed to the then-owner Mike Sanders, Ed made it abundantly clear that he understood it would never be for sale, but that he’d love to see the car and hear more about it.Evidently that sincere admission was sufficient comfort for Sanders to respond. An online dialogue led to them becoming friends with a deep mutual passion for The Persuaders.Three and a half years later Stratton (who all along secretly yearned to own the car but never dared mention as much), got a call from Sanders offering him the chance to buy it. But he would only sell it to him.

You see that’s how long it took for Sanders to realise that there was somebody else out there who was just as big a fan of the series (and the Aston it featured) as he was. And that’s how the situation reversed - Sanders had been thinking of parting with it but would only let it go to a true fan who would covet it like he did, and who would maintain it just as obsessively with no expense spared.

And Sanders clearly chose the right bloke: if the Aston so much as sniffs a wet road it gets subjected to a drying regime involving it being left doors and boot open with a couple of industrial fans aimed at it for a few days before it's put back into hibernation. And it gets it leather fed with conditioner to keep it equally pristine inside. Now that's what I call coveting a car...

As it turned out parting with the Aston also led to a remarkable bonus for Sanders: Stratton gave him his word that he could come and borrow the car from time to time and says he wouldn't even mind if he took it abroad. Which is all rather cool, in a way.

And what of the actual Dino that starred in The Persuaders in the hands of Mr Curtis? Apparently it has been tracked down to an owner in Italy.He’s local, doesn’t speak a word of English and has owned the Dino for the last 30 years or so. And he’s not remotely interested in its iconic appearance in the TV series. Yes he’s heard of Tony Curtis but, no, he’s never heard of the Persuaders and, what’s more, he doesn’t want to.  Apparently he’s made that abundantly clear after countless requests to pair it up for a nostalgic shoot with the DBS.His Dino is just a nice sports car he’s enjoyed for many years and which he has no plans to part with. Now how cool is that?

Some photos of the details on the car follow:

Scenes of the Aston in the series and being reunited with Moore and Curtis.

Fantastic 1:43 model.

Car sports pukka autographs from Curtis and Moore!