Aston Martin Spy Car – 110 Years of Innovation

It’s year end and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my deep appreciation of Aston Martin. The brand is 110 years old and has been celebrating all year. A few days ago, I came across an article in Octane Magazine.

What caught my attention was a 1936 Aston Martin Ulster in red, which was rebodied in 1990 from Aston Martin Mark II. 

The original owner of fifty years was British Major Tony Mellor, a former spy and war hero. Mellor used his car for smuggling gold and silver from pre-war Germany on behalf of his Jewish friends. There was a hollow tube attached to the chassis to carry valuables. Also inside the false bottom of the car battery were detailed plans of the Siegfried Line; an important military defense position. 

To accomplish his mission Mellor worked at the Aston Martin Service Department for his for clandestine forays into Europe. During those weeks at Aston Martin, his car was fitted with secret compartments. His trips were most likely spy missions into Nazi Germany, however, no doubt many of his exploits are likely hidden in classified documents protected by the official secrets act.

As the unrest in Europe was unfolding in 1939, Mellor on his last mission, was held at the border by the Gestapo. He waited 48 hours as the Nazi’s stripped his car, only to find nothing. He arrived later in England with his Dutch girlfriend, Ellen. Tony eventually married her, and they lived at Rose cottage in the village of Figheldean in Wiltshire. He kept the Aston as a daily driver until it fell into disrepair.

On a side note, Major Mellor and Ian Fleming were car enthusiasts and lived in London, only a few minutes apart. Mellor’s cousin sold his house to Fleming. What’s peculiar is Mellor and Fleming probably shared the same social and intelligence circles. Makes one wonder about these coincidences. Maybe Ian Fleming may have picked up a few ideas. Do the secret compartments or latest gadgets in the Astons featured in the latest James Bond movies have anything in common with Mellor’s Aston?

Mellor’s Mark II Aston was restored by its new owner in 1990 to Ulster specifications, making it a sportier car. It’s still stunning and rakish in its low profile.

I have been fortunate to have had my DB9 Volante convertible for a few years now and relish its beauty and power. The mystic of the marque is still fascinating, and few are seen on the roadways.

The DB9 does have a glove box as some newer models do not. Not a secret compartment I know, as I’ve no access to Q branch at MI6.

Moving into the New Year let’s make 2024 a banner year by doing the things we love. I for one will be out in the Aston!

For more of the story about Major Tony Mellor you can find it in his memoir Machine-Gunner, on page 72 of Octane magazine February, 2024 issue. Or visit the Aston Martin Heritage Trust at;

You can find my book Outfoxed at Chapters Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Friesen Press or if you live locally, at Booklore in Orangeville, Ontario. To contact Peter, email him at

Happy New Year.

Aston Martin Spy Car – 110 Years of Innovation