Top 10 Bond Cars
There have been many high-performance — and some not-so-high-performance — rides featured in Ian Fleming’s spy thriller series. Here are 10 favorites.
Fast cars, lethal gadgets and improbable high-speed pursuits have been key ingredients in James Bond films since the series began in 1962. From modest beginnings in Dr. No, when 007 outran his pursuers in a rented Sunbeam Alpine, the Bond car has grown in speed, sophistication and sex appeal. With each new model, Bond, James Bond, has been able to impress us with his impeccable driving and cool demeanor.
(For Your Eyes Only, 1981)
As James Bond, Roger Moore outran two rather unthreatening Peugeot 504s in an even more sluggish Citroen 2CV during a chase down a Spanish mountainside in For Your Eyes Only. Quirky appearance aside, the 2CV was one of the most heavily modified of all the Bond cars. Nearly every part of the original vehicle was replaced with high-performance components; otherwise, it probably would have fallen apart.
Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
(Die Another Day, 2002)
During the late ‘90s, Bond traded in his signature Aston Martin for several BMWs. He went back to the British automaker in Die Another Day. The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish was equipped with familiar gadgets such as an ejector seat, rocket launchers, machine guns and spiked tires (a must-have for driving on ice, you know), as well as a somewhat ridiculous cloaking device that rendered the car invisible. In the past, Bond films were famous for involving real-life stunts. This one, however, turned to computer-generated imagery, and thus wasn’t as well received. But the high-performance Vanquish was cherry and sexier than hell. Halle Berry fell for it.
(Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997)
Though somewhat sedate compared to other sports cars in the Bond stable, the 750iL was no less spectacular during a chase around a parking garage in Tomorrow Never Dies. It featured a number of predictable enhancements, including rocket launchers, re-inflating tires and wire cutters. One notable Q addition is remote control capability, allowing Bond (Pierce Brosnan) to steer the car using his cell phone — the ultimate in hands-free operation.
Ford Mustang Mach 1
(Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
Having already conquered evil masterminds, the Soviet Union and a temptress or two in his first three flicks, it was only a matter of time before Sean Connery’s Bond tamed an American muscle car. He raced a slick Ford Mustang Mach 1 down the Sunset Strip in Las Vegas, followed by a battalion of Vegas cops. In one of the more spectacular Bond car stunts, the stunt driver pops the Mustang up on two wheels to squeeze it through a narrow alleyway. Did you know: The Mach 1 entered the alley on one set of wheels, but emerged on the other? What was the editor thinking?
Bentley Mark IV
(From Russia with Love, 1963)
The Bentley Mark IV is almost as legendary as the DB5; it is featured in many of Ian Fleming’s novels. Unfortunately it’s as fictional as the spy himself; Bentley never produced such a model. The vehicle in From Russia with Love is a Derby Bentley convertible, which Sean Connery uses to seduce Miss Sylvia Trench. Yeah, baby!
Aston Martin DB5
Without a doubt the most famous of the Bond cars, and one of the most iconic cars in cinema history, is the Aston Martin DB5. This was the first Bond car to feature Q’s unique brand of lethal extras, which has become a hallmark of the Bond film series, including machine guns, an oil slick deployer, bullet-proof glass and rotating license plates, as well as that famous ejector seat. Ever since, this type of armament has become commonplace in spy films —a testament to the enduring popularity and influence of this charismatic car. And to Hollywood’s lust for gratuitous violence.
AMC Matador coupe
(The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974)
Bond (Roger Moore) is foiled by perhaps the best trick a getaway car has ever performed: the Matador transforms into a plane. Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) and Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize) use this 1974 car to kidnap Mary Goodnight (the luscious Britt Ekland) and make their escape. In the film, the Matador coupe is converted into a plane to fly from Bangkok to an island in the China Sea. The “car plane” was 30 feet long, 42 feet wide and 10 feet high. The transformation occurred when wings and tail unit were attached to the actual car, which then served as the fuselage and landing gear. Fasten your seat belts.
Toyota 2000 GT convertible
(You Only Live Twice, 1967)
Back in the late ‘60s, the Toyota 2000 GT was considered by most to be a genuinely futuristic car. With a production run limited to 350 coupes and a construction that made use of advanced engineering techniques such as independent suspension, disc brakes on each wheel and a six-cylinder engine, it was the perfect fit for Bond. But not for Connery — the Scotsman was just too damn big for it. So Toyota produced two one-offs for the movie, large enough to carry the sizable actor. In the film, the car belongs to Japanese secret agent Aki. Gadgets include a video monitor, cordless telephone and voice-controlled stereo system (all standard features today), which Bond uses to spy on a load of villains who are being dropped from a helicopter. Bombs away.
(The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
Bond (Moore) escapes his pursuers by driving the Lotus off a pier into the Mediterranean Sea, where it transforms into a fully functioning submarine. Now that’s a car. Armed with surface-to-air missiles, depth charges, underwater sight screens and torpedoes, Moore was able to dispatch a team of underwater attackers and a helicopter before surfacing at a nearby beach. So popular was the Lotus Esprit that it was brought back for the next film, For Your Eyes Only, only to be blown up early in the film. They should be ashamed of themselves.
T-55 Russian tank
Now this is one badass ride. Although the BMW Z3 is the official Bond car for the film, the T-55 steals the show. During the tank showdown set in St. Petersburg, Bond’s sidekick Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) is kidnapped by General Ourumov (Gottfried John). Agent 007 runs across a tank and borrows it to pursue them. Weighing a hefty 40 tons, the T-55 is armed with a 100mm cannon, two machine guns and a 580-horsepower engine. Bond (Brosnan) drives over cars and through buildings and even shoots a train along the way. Lesson: Don’t mess with a machine of mass mayhem.
For nearly two decades, New York-based writer and editor Chuck Tannert has covered everything from automobiles to gadgets to travel. Before joining the MSN Autos team, Tannert served as senior automotive editor at Popular Mechanics, and his work has appeared in many outlets, including Cargo, Men's Journal, Penthouse, Popular Science, and Wired.
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