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Owing to the combination of a social vacuum and fresh batch of homebrew chilling in the Frigidaire at Grimley Towers, last Saturday evening was devoted solely to the task of getting some value for money out of my sofa. Making this all the more pleasant was the fact that a particularly thoughtful soul at TVNZ had chosen to slot ‘From Russia With Love’ into the schedule, thus allowing me to spend a good few hours watching Sean Connery charm his way into the hearts and undergarments of various unlikely looking secret service ladies.

There is no doubt that Connery is the consummate Bond – the ultimate example of suave sophistication working in perfect harmony with an undercurrent of ruthlessness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a) wrong and b) wrong, but after watching the film I have a sneaking suspicion that if it had been filmed today, he wouldn’t have even got a look in.

My reasoning behind this comes from a scene where Bond removes his shirt to reveal a body that your average man on the street would consider to be pretty normal. His chest region was covered in a luxuriant mane of man hair, his stomach was bereft of muscular contours and there was no suggestion at all that his biceps would come in handy should anyone lose the nut cracker at Christmas.

Compare this with the latest incarnation, portrayed by Daniel Craig, who emerges from the sea looking like a steroid addict who has been subjected to a particularly thorough drive-by epilation.

I will not deny that Craig is a fine actor and comes with the benefit of several decades of movie production, stunt coordination and special effects development on his side. But the simple fact is this; once you strip all of the technical advances away and look beyond the hours of gym work, the key element that is left over – the performance of Ian Fleming’s legendary super spy – is done better by Connery.

"You unt I. Vee are not so different Mr Bond."

That’s why I’ve just bought a Mercedes 190E.

Over the course of the last several weeks, I have looked at literally hundreds of cars in a quest to find something to replace my recently deceased BMW. And what my roaming through car yards and many miles of test drives has taught me is that cars are becoming less of a device for transporting people and more for one of transporting accessories.

For example, I was shown a Mazda Sentia which although of a reasonable vintage was still capable of controlling the climate separately for all passengers, electrically adjusting the rear seats, chilling beer in the on-board fridge and entertaining the passengers (whilst almost certainly fatally distracting the driver) through the television in the centre console. It was also not very good.

To start with it was about the same size as Waiheke Island, which meant that even with a three litre V6 under the bonnet performance would be best described as ‘leisurely’. Not that this was a bad thing, because entering corners with any form of speed was rewarded with a handling experience usually reserved for deep sea fishermen.

And while the Mazda was a particularly extreme example it is far from alone. Modern demands for exotic stereos, flash mags and extravagant air conditioning systems mean a lot of cars feel designed from the options list backwards. Years of technological advances do go a long way to masking shortfalls in talent, but in so many cases you can just feel that what lies underneath isn’t really the star of the show.

With the 190E the exact opposite applies. This was the product of a certain Herr Ingenieur in Stuttgart deciding that they should make a good and well engineered car. It was only a lot further down the line when someone – probably in marketing – suggested they should perhaps include some concessions to the demands of fashion, that frivolities such as a heater and radio were taken into consideration.

So while I’ve spent time in more luxurious long drops, the Merc has defied the ravages of time to still feel that little bit special. It may be long past its prime, but like Sir Sean who has recently turned 81, the magic will somehow never die.

Oh yesh, Mish Moneypenny, oh yesh indeed.

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