Shaken & Stirred: The Cars of James Bond
Maybe no fictional character over the last 50 years has had the staying power of James Bond. Through 21 feature films (with a 22nd on the way for 2008), Bond has proven harder to kill then all the famed movie monsters put together. The combination of the suave secret agent and renowned lady killer with the latest technological gadgets in an attempt to save the world from the bad guys has made the Bond films popular over several generations. Maybe the single most identifiable and popular Bond prop over the years (other than the lovely ladies, of course) has been the Bond car. Some, like the Aston Martin DB5, appeared in six different Bond films, and others, like the Lotus Esprit S1 only appeared in a single film, but they all had that magical mystique that only a Bond car can have. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous Bond cars over the years.
The Aston Martin DB5
The quintessential Bond car, it made its first appearance in 1964’s Goldfinger. It would go on to appear in 1965’s Thunderball, 1995’s Goldeneye, 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies and this year’s Casino Royale. The DB5 did appear very briefly in one other Bond film, 1999’s The World is Not Enough, but the majority of the scenes featuring the DB5 were cut. Not only were these speed machines great to look at, the directors for the Bond films used a progressive system of upgrades on the car that carried over from film to film. The DB5 was given bulletproof glass and an oil slick in one film, the next would have those same upgrades, plus a host of new ones, such as the world famous ejector seat. The Aston Martin DB5 became so closely associated with Bond that other films began to use it as a way to parody the Bond mystique.
The BMW Z3
Maybe the most controversial moment in Bond car history, the use of the BMW Z3 in Goldeneye marked the first time the British spy hero was seen behind the wheel of a non-British made car. The Z3 only made a brief appearance in the film, which was ironic considering the controversy got as much press as the fact that it was Pierce Brosnan’s first Bond film. It wouldn’t be the last time a BMW was chosen as the Bond car. In the next Bond film, 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond is seen driving a BMW 750iL. This Bond car came with such toys as an electric shock system that would zap anyone other than Bond who tried to use it and rockets hidden in the roof of the car.
The Lotus Esprit S1 & Lotus Esprit Turbo
Lotus Esprit S1 & Lotus Esprit Turbo. These two beauties appeared in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me and 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. The Esprit S1 came with probably the coolest of all Bond gadgets. It could turn into a submarine! In For Your Eyes Only, Bond goes through not one, but two Esprit Turbos during the film, one with a red interior and one with white.
Bentley Mark IV
The James Bond that author Ian Fleming wrote about didn’t drive an Aston Martin, however. His wheels of choice were a grey Bentley Mark IV convertible. The car came with a 4.5L engine and was, of course, supercharged. What makes this car unique was that it didn’t come with any added gadgets since, according to the book series, it was Bond’s personal car.
Aston Martin DBS V12
Bond’s love affair with the Aston Martin continued throughout the film series. In the most recent Bond film, 2006’s Casino Royale, James was seen driving the Aston Martin DBS V12. While there weren’t any Q refinements that you could see upon first glance, it was said the car came with several secret compartments.
Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish was often referred to as the Vanish in 2002’s Die Another Day. The car came with a cloaking device; maybe the coolest Q upgrade ever. It also came with the usual rockets, bullet proof glass and tires with spikes.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante
In 1987’s The Living Daylights, Bond drove a beautiful Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante. The car started as a convertible, but was later turned into a hardtop. The tire-slashing spikes that had become a staple Q upgrade were upgraded further with lasers in place of the spikes.
Alfa Romeo GTV
Not every car that Bond drove was given to him by Q. In 1983’s Octopussy, Bond steals a beautiful Alfa Romeo GTV. It was a good upgrade for Bond, who earlier in the film was forced to thumb a ride from a Volkswagen Beetle.
In one of the most famous Bond scenes ever, again in Octopussy, Bond takes a Mercedes 250SE for a ride on the rails after the tires were shredded. The car, of course, meets its maker after getting smashed by an oncoming train moments after Bond jumped to safety.
AEC Regent RT-type double-decker bus
In one of the most unlikely Bond vehicles of all time, an AEC Regent RT-type double-decker bus was stolen by James in 1973’s Live and Let Die. What made this one of the all time greats was that the double-decker bus soon became a single-decker thanks to a low bridge. This remains one of the coolest Bond moments ever.
The James Bond legacy is still strong after 21 films and shows no sign of letting up. With a new actor behind the wheel of the next generation of Bond cars, one can only imagine what Q has in store for us all.