This is a tale I’ve told before, but I like it so here it is again. As a young lad growing up in the 1960s, the first time I ever came across the Zagato name was when I read Ian Fleming’s book On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In that book, the Bond girl who would become, tragically only very briefly, Mrs James Bond – Comtesse Teresa di Vincenzo – drove a Lancia Flaminia Zagato Spyder.

Fleming described their initial meeting:

“It was a girl driving, a girl with a shocking pink scarf tied around her hair, leaving a brief pink tail that the wind blew horizontal behind her. If there was one thing that set him moving in life, with the exception of gun play, it was being passed at speed by a pretty girl. He flicked on the supercharger, which Rolls-Royce had solemnly warned him not to fit, put his foot on the floorboard, and went after her.”

Contrary to the films, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Bond drove a supercharged 4.5-litre Bentley Mk IV (the Mk IV being a fictional model dreamed up by Fleming).

Four years later, when I went to the cinema to watch the filmed version of this 007 novel I couldn’t help but be rather disappointed that Teresa’s choice of car had been changed. I had absolutely no problems with an Aston Martin DB5 replacing Bond’s Bentley – and, of course, Zagato have a long history with the British firm, from the Ercole Spada-designed DB4GT Zagato right out to the latest DBZ Bondmobile and the stunning Vanquish Zagato.

And much as I liked Sean Connery in the role, I had nothing against George Lazenby for taking over, and who could object to Diana Rigg (still my favourite Bond girl) as the Comtesse? However it seemed a shame that the film producers put her into a ’69 Mercury Cougar rather than the Zagato-styled Flaminia, which always seemed like a far better choice of car for a beautiful and sophisticated woman.

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