Retired global sales manager for Aston Martin recalls Bond, Royalty
Peter Robinson had no difficulty identifying the blue open-topped Aston Martin the newly wed Prince William drove from Buckingham Palace last week, bride Kate Middleton at his side, reports The Age
Mr Robinson, who drove Aston Martins in three James Bond films and has an ejector button hidden in a gear knob to prove it, sold the vehicle to Prince William's father, Prince Charles, 42 years ago.
''Yes, I was called down to Windsor Castle just prior to Charles being invested as Prince of Wales in 1969,'' recalled Mr Robinson, who owns a prestige car servicing business in Melbourne these days.
''It was a sunny day on the back courtyard of the castle and Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Phillip, Princess Anne and Charles were all there. I'd first met Her Majesty when I lived in Malta and she was Princess Elizabeth. Prince Phillip was based there with the Royal Navy.
''I took an Aston Martin DBS for Prince Charles to have a look at, but he told me it wouldn't do at all because his polo sticks wouldn't fit inside.
''The car I'd brought down was a bloody embarrassing thing. It was fitted with gold lame seats and it was a metallic brown colour. Aston Martin had introduced the colour after Sir John Mills bought one for his daughter, [the actress] Hayley Mills, who'd brought in a pair of her knickers and wanted the car to be the same colour as them.
''Anyway, Charles wanted to know if he could get a convertible, and I told him there wouldn't be a DBS convertible for four or five years, but there was a convertible model of the DB6 Volante. It would take all the polo sticks he wanted.''
Mr Robinson, global sales manager for Aston Martin at the time, found a red DB6 Volante, but Charles wanted it in Sierra Blue. Aston Martin took it into the factory, stripped it back, painted it blue and fitted it with royal blue seats.
MI5, Britain's domestic security agency, ordered that the vehicle be adapted to accommodate specialist communications. The mobile communications system was a bulky piece of equipment, so Aston Martin's engineers separated it into 11 different parts and fitted them variously in the boot, under the seats, beneath armrests and under the bonnet.
Then there was a silver motif of the Prince of Wales dragon that the Queen gave to Charles for his investiture. It had to be affixed to the bonnet, and when the car came in for servicing, Mr Robinson would unscrew it and deposit in a bank vault to ensure it didn't go missing. It was still on the car when Prince William drove it last weekend.
Mr Robinson was familiar with unusual modifications. He supplied and drove Aston Martins in three James Bond films - Goldfinger, Thunderball and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Once, he said, he was very nearly arrested after being overheard at a pub joking that he had used the car's machine guns - which didn't actually shoot bullets - to shoot grouse out of season.
He tells of a white-knuckle ride down a beach in Portugal for the opening scene of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the director and three members of the film crew hunkered down in the boot and the back seat, and of driving an expensive Bond car in the British Pinewood studios, required to stop a centimetre from a wall so the vehicle wasn't smashed in the simulated crash.
He took up competitive yachting in the 1970s and decided he needed to move to Australia, because he believed that was where the action was. He bought a Melbourne car dealership, Spencer Jeffcott Motors, and in 1980 suffered such extensive burns when a fuel leak turned into a furious blaze that he was told he would never go to sea again.
Regardless, he bought a 34-foot ocean racer, and within two years, had won the Queenscliff-to-Portland ocean race and soon after took home the Rani trophy in the Sydney-to-Hobart event.
More recently he has designed and built a new style of racing car, which he calls the Extreme, and is planning a motor sports resort, including a formula 1 course, at Bacchus Marsh.
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