By Ian Fleming
Gran Turismo Literally mean “large tourism” and was from the beginning a description of the
comfortable large cars of the 20's and 30’s.
Today the expression has gotten a different meaning. Nowadays it means cars with fast engines, often used in racing—even if it takes place on public roads as in this story out of James Bonds adventures life.
For almost twenty-four hours James Bond had been sitting in the car, his old Bentley Continental—with R-chassis and the large 6—that he had been driving for the last three years. He was going on the fast and boring section of the Route National I, between Abbeville and Montreuil, the road that takes the English tourists back home via Silver City Airways from Le Touquet or by ferry from Boulogne or Calais. He hurried in a comfortable pace with the cruise control set between 130 and 140kmh while his brain was busy to form his resignation request from the secret service.
That was when it happened, on a 20km straightaway through a forest. The scream from a triple horn cut in his ears and a low, white, two seater Lancia Flaminia Zagato Spyder with the top down flew past him, cut in front of him and took off, while the sexy sound from the double exhaust echoed between the woods. And it was a girl at the wheel, a girl with a chock rose scarf in her hair. The scarf was flogging behind her as a short rose tail.
If there is something that get life in James Bond, except the possibility of gun fire, it was to be passed by a cute girl. In his experience, girls that were driving like this were always cute and attractive.
The chock from the siren from the horn had him automatically disengage the cruise control, drained his thoughts from other thoughts and he was now fully concentrated on driving, and driving fast. With a thin smile, he stepped on the gas pedal, got a tight grip on the steering wheel in a quarter to three position and started to chase her down.
180, 190, 200, still not getting any closer. Bond bent forward towards the dashboard and switched on a red switch. The squealing sound from an over stressed engine cut in his eardrums as the Bentley took a noticeable jump forward. 210, 220. Now he could see that he was gaining on her. 30 meter,
25 meter, 15 meter! He was almost able to see her eyes in her rear-view mirror.
But they had reached the end of the straight section of the road. One of the exclamation signs, that the French use as warning signs flew by his right side. And now, after the crown of a hill he could see a church tower, a close group of houses in a small village at the edge of a steep hill, the snake-like sign for another s-turn. Both cars slowed down – 170, 160, 140.
Bond could see her brake lights brighten up, her right hand reaching towards the shifter in coordination with his own down shifting. They reached the curve that was covered by a rough surface and he had to brake hard, while he jealously watched the way her Dion axel controlled the rear wheels on the uneven surface. His rear of the car bounced and slipped, while he worked with the steering wheel to keep control.
Coming to the end of the village the Lancia with a wave of the rear got around the corner and took off as a bat up the long straight hill – Bond just lost 35meters.
This way the race continued. Bond got closer on the straight sections but fell behind due to the well-known road handling of the Lancia through the villages – and he must admit, to the girls beautiful and skillful driving. And here was a large Michelin-sign “Montreuil 5, Royal-les-Eaux 10, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage 15”, and Bond wondered what destination she might have in mind. He contemplated if he should forget Royale and the evening he had promised himself at their famous Casino – and just follow her to wherever she was going to find out what kind of girl this is.
He never had to make that decision. Montreuil is a dangerous town with slippery and windy cobblestone covered streets and heavy local traffic. Bond was following her about thirty-five meters behind her at the outskirts but with his large car he could not keep up with her in the slalom driving through all the hazards and when they got outside town and passed the intersection by ‘Etaples-Paris she was gone.
He reached the left turn, wasn’t there still some dust in the air? Bond went through the turn and was in a way sure that he would see her again. He leaned forward and switched off the red switch, and the sound from the Compressor died down. It got quiet in the car as he continued and he tried to get his tensed muscles to relax. He wondered if the compressor had damaged the engine. Against Rolls-Royce stern warnings he had the compressor installed by his favorite expert at the headquarter motor depot. It was a compressor of the brand Arnott,
that was controlled electronically. Rolls-Royce had told him that the main bearings could not handle the extra load and when he admitted what he had done, they apologized but withdrew the warranty and washed their hands in despair over what had been done to their “child”.
This was the first time Bond had been driving in excess of 220kmh and the tachometer had vibrated dangerously close to 4500rpm. However, the temp gauge and oil pressure was OK and he could not hear any noise from the engine.
And, by God, it was a real pleasure!