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By Ben Selby
The name’s Bond, James Bond. That phrase alone says it all. Ian Fleming’s fictional super spy has enthralled billions of movie goers for nearly 60 years, becoming the most celebrated hero in popular culture. He had it all, the gadgets, the music, the megalomaniac villains, and of course, those incredible cars.
Seeing as Bond is back in cinemas with “No Time To Die,” here in reverse order, are our Top 10 Favourite James Bond Cars.
10. BMW 750iL
Kicking off the list is probably one of the oddest choices for a gadget laden Bond car. However, I reckon the long-wheel base V12 BMW 750iL deserves a spot in the top 10.
The 750iL was the second car provided by BMW as part of their three-movie deal with Bond producers EON productions, the others being the Z3 in Goldeneye and the Z8 in The World is Not Enough. While the latter two received hardly any screen time at all, the 750iL in Tomorrow Never Dies certainly got the most action.
Q had stuffed the 7-series with a tonne of gadgets including roof mounted missiles, tyre shredding spikes, a cable cutter, tear gas, a 10,000-volt security system, re-inflatable tyres and the ability to driven by remote control from Bond’s phone.
The chase scene in a Hamburg multi story carpark was a bit cheesy but it was still an entertaining romp which ends Bond casually pilot the Beemer by remote control off the carpark roof and conveniently returns it to the AVIS rental desk through the shop window.
9. AMC Hornet
The AMC Hornet featured in Roger Moore’s second outing as 007, “The Man with the Golden Gun.” Bond borrows the Hornet from a conveniently placed AMC showroom in Bangkok to give chase to Scaramanga (played brilliantly by the late great Christopher Lee).
Also, by sheer coincidence, Scaramanga is driving an AMC Matador. The police cars are even AMC too come to think of it. Talk about product placement.
Anyway, Bond sees Scaramanga and his side kick Knick Knack on the other side of river. After a quick 180, Bond notices a broken bridge. Pretty soon Bond and his co-pilot, a petrified Sherriff J W Pepper, are leaping over the riverbank with the Hornet doing a complete corkscrew in the process.
The amazing part of this stunt was it was shot in just one take. The stunt driver had to leave the set due to personal reasons, so the mechanic volunteered and nailed it first time out. When he got out of the car, Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli handed him a wad of cash in appreciation. The mechanic responded, “can I do it again?”
8. Lotus Esprit Turbo
The first of two Lotus on this list. The Turbo was the star of “For Your Eyes Only.” This film was Roger Moore’s fifth and a literal return to earth after the previous film “Moonraker” sent Bond blasting into space.
Actually, this is one two Esprit Turbo’s we see in the film. The first white example is used by Bond early in the film as he searches for an assassin in Greece. Sadly, it explodes after the baddies henchmen try to break in.
Bond is then given a bronze Esprit Turbo by Q later in the film. Upon seeing it, Bond says to Q, “Ah, I see you managed to put the Lotus back together.” While the Esprit Turbo doesn’t have any gadgets, it makes for a great tool for Bond to travel to Cortina for spot of spying and winter sports, hence the addition of the ski rack.
Its time in the film was brief, but it is easily one of the coolest Bond cars of the Moore era.
7. Aston Martin Vanquish
Yes, I know Die Another Day wasn’t exactly the best 007 adventure, in fact it is probably the most far-fetched Bond film ever. One of the reasons being Bond’s Aston Martin Vanquish has its own scarcely believable invisibility cloak.
However, that doesn’t mean the rest of Aston Martin’s return to the franchise after BMW bowed out wasn’t bad. Despite its invisible bit, the Vanquish is still worthy of a place on this list. The mano a mano chase scene on ice with Zao’s gadget packed Jaguar XKR could be likened to a vehicular sword fight.
Each car matches each other with weaponry. The Aston’s missiles and target seeking shotguns shooting down the Jag’s rockets and boot mounted mortars. Also that bit when Bond uses the ejector seat to flip himself back over while dodging Zao’s missile was silly, but pretty cool nonetheless.
The funny thing is that behind the scenes, both cars were stripped of their respective powerplants and given Mustang V8s and converted to four-wheel drive with studded tyres to make them drivable on ice.
Of course, there have been more believable Aston moments for Bond over the years, but the Vanquish of Die Another Day, was still pretty fun to watch.
6. Ford Mustang Mach 1
After George Lazenby’s quick exit after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the Bond producers went cap in hand to Sean Connery pleading with him to return to the role. Needless to say, after much negotiation, the smooth-talking Scot was back in the tux for “Diamonds Are Forever.”
Diamonds saw Bond spend a lot of time in Las Vegas chasing Diamond smugglers with Tiffany Case played by Jill St John. Tiffany’s car was a 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 which Bond uses after escaping from a secret lab in the Nevada desert belonging to evil organisation Spectre. Bond and Tiffany then evade the Las Vegas police department by blasting along Vegas footpaths, over trailers and through carparks.
The climax of the chase is Bond and Tiffany’s escape through a narrow alley where Bond puts the Mustang on two wheels. However, it is very clear in the film when the Mustang goes into the alley on one side, and comes out on the other.
This blooper happened when director Guy Hamilton filmed the entry into the alley first but had to fly back to the UK, leaving the second unit director to shoot the car coming out of it, which unfortunately, was completely the opposite. Hamilton wanted to reshoot but Cubby Broccoli said no. Instead, they used an in car shot showing Bond oddly changing the angle of the car while in the alleyway.
Despite Diamonds Are Forever being the campiest we have seen Bond, that red Mustang sequence was easily one of the highlights.
5. Aston Martin DB10
You know a film franchise has rapport with a brand when said brand decides to make a product specifically for a film. Such is the rapport with EON productions and Aston Martin, the latter building a new prototype sports car for Daniel Craig to use in ‘Spectre.’
The DB10 was a bespoke V8 manual supercar and the fourth Aston to helmed by Mr Craig. It also provided us with a glimpse of what the new production Vantage would look like. The DB10 would be Bond’s transport to Rome to spy on Spectre’s secret meeting before being chased throughout the Italian capital at night by Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) in a Jaguar CX-75, another car built specifically as a production model for use in the film.
The DB10 v Jag sequence is the one of the slickest looking chases of any Bond film, especially the shot of Bond drifting the DB10 through an Italian square with Mr Hinx in hot pursuit. There is a gadget or two but these take second place to Bond’s great driving skill and cunning use of the Aston’s front when it comes to helping a rotund Fiat 500 driving Italian along a bit.
The DB10 is probably one of the best-looking Bond cars of recent years and complements the Craig era very well. It also sounds pretty epic too.
4. Toyota 2000 GT
As “You Only Live Twice” was shot predominately in Japan, it seemed fitting that 007 would feature alongside a Japanese sports car. Toyota put their hand up straight away and offered their simply beautiful 2000 GT. This car was Toyota’s answer to the Jaguar E Type and sported such details like the textbook coupe styling cues and even used the same wood trim Yamaha use on their pianos.
However, once filming began, a problem arose. The tall frame of Sean Connery just wouldn’t fit in the car. Undaunted, Toyota simply said there was no problem, and a few weeks later, redesigned the entire car as a convertible.
With Sean now able to fit, filming resumed. The 2000 GT’s highlight was a chase scene between Bond and Aki, and the henchmen of the evil Mr Osato. After escaping downtown Tokyo, the baddies are simply picked up by a magnet from Tiger Tanaka’s helicopter and dropped into Tokyo Bay, which oddly Bond could watch live from the Toyota’s in-car TV.
The 2000 GT was already a rare beast, but these bespoke convertibles built for the film are rarer than rare and to this day, very very cool.
3. Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Timothy Dalton’s Bond is probably the most under appreciated Bond ever. His darker and more serious tone was a stark contrast to the light hearted tom foolery of the Moore era which preceded him. His debut film, “The Living Daylights” was not a great success but its more realistic cold war storyline still holds up well today.
It also saw 007 being partnered with Aston Martin after a gap of 20 years, with this uber cool V8 Vantage making no bones about making up for lost time. The first time we see the Vantage, it is in topless Volante spec as Bond arrives at an MI6 safehouse for a briefing. Then, after a trip to Q’s lab, rego B549 WUU becomes a hardtop, and filled to the brim with gadgets.
These gadgets are all put to the test during a wintery chase involving Soviet troops and the Czech Police. Bond’s “few optional extras” include wheel hub mounted laser beams, missiles behind the fog lights, bullet proof glass, spiked tyres, and rocket booster.
A ski outrigger system completes Q’s Winter Pack and comes in dead handy when Bond ends up on a frozen lake. Sadly, Bond has to activate the self-destruct system after he and Kara Milovy boost over a Soviet checkpoint before bouncing down a hillside and become entrenched in a snow drift.
The Vantage’s time on screen is spectacular and makes it well worthy of being the third best Bond car ever.
2. Lotus Esprit S1
You couldn’t have a list of the Top 10 Bond Cars and not include this. The Lotus Esprit S1 came to be after the Bond producers found a prototype Esprit parked outside their offices at Pinewood studios. They couldn’t figure out what kind of car it was as all the Lotus emblems were taped over. Little did they realise it was deliberately parked there by Lotus Head of PR Don McLaughlin in an attempt to get their attention. It worked, and the Lotus Esprit became Bond’s latest wheels.
In “The Spy Who Loved Me” Bond is presented with his Lotus by Q at wharf in Sardinia, in which Bond drives off before Q has a chance to explain the gadgets. Later in the film, Bond is eluding the baddies of Karl Stromberg around mountain roads, spraying a pursuing Ford Cortina with a jet of cement and evading a machine-gunning helicopter at speed.
All the stunt driving was done by Lotus employee Roger Becker after he showed he knew how to really push an Esprit hard and make it look exciting on camera, something which the official stunt driver couldn’t manage to do.
After Bond, seemingly out of his mind, blasted the Esprit down a jetty and into open water with said helicopter right behind, the real magic begins as Bond flicks a lever, turning the Esprit into a Submarine. For the sub transformation scene, there were several mock Esprits used to show the wheels folding in and the dive fins protruding. As for the underwater scenes themselves, it was a combination of radio-controlled miniatures and a fibreglass body with divers inside it.
While the Lotus Esprit Submarine is a legend, we will always wonder how exactly that fish which Bond drops out of the window after leaving the water got there in the first place??
1. Aston Martin DB5
You knew it would be this didn’t you? If there is one car regarded as Bond’s ultimate car, then the silver birch Aston Martin DB5 is definitely it. No other car in 007’s arsenal is as iconic, and perhaps, no other car in cinema history is as legendary as the Aston Martin DB5 which made its debut in Goldfinger.
The marriage between Bond and the DB5 very nearly didn’t happen as Aston Martin originally said no to EON productions when asked if they could supply a car. After weeks of pestering Aston Martin, they at last agreed to give a second-hand test mule DB5 to the production team.
In the Goldfinger book, Bond drives a DB MKIII with a built-in phone and reinforced bumpers in case he needed to ram someone. For the film, the DB5 would take this concept of in car gadgetry and run with it. The revolving number plates were actually the idea of Director Guy Hamilton who became tired of getting parking tickets in London. Added to this were the tyre shredders, bullet proof screen, oil slick, smoke screen, twin browning machine guns, and that ejector seat.
Much of the onscreen DB5 action takes place in Switzerland as Bond uses his tyre shredder to immobilize the Mustang of Tilly Masterson. The rest of the gadgets all come into play during the night time chase around Goldfinger’s factory and the surrounding forest. During filming, the DB5’s straight six engine started misbehaving, running in parts on only three cylinders.
When Goldfinger reached theatres in 1964, the world changed forever. James Bond was on everyone’s lips and the Aston Martin DB5 became every young boy’s dream car. It even went on its own world tour to the unbridled adulation of new fans.
Since then, the DB5 has appeared in other Bond film such as Thunderball, Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall, Spectre and currently No Time to Die.
Such is the popularity of the DB5, Aston Martin themselves have created 25 007 recreation DB5’s for some very wealthy customers, gadgets and all. Needless to say, they have all been sold.
The Aston Martin DB5 is, and always will be, James Bond’s ultimate car.
Sunbeam Alpine – Dr No
Alfa Romeo GTV – Octopussy
Aston Martin DBS – Casino Royale
Aston Martin DBS 1969 – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Rolls Royce Silver Cloud – A View to a Kill