A Toyota sports car, a classic Aston Martin, a 2CV and a convertible Sunbeam compete for Victoria’s Bond-car crown.
He is England’s most famous fictional spy and has been branded daggy and suave; gadget-obsessed and a dinosaur; sociopath and hero; sexist and saviour.
But the one thing James Bond (almost) always seems to have is a cool car with just the right mix of comfort and weaponry to woo the “girl” (rarely a woman), save his life and win the day.
But how can anyone love every Bond car? Indeed, even those with decades of car-reviewing experience don’t agree on which Bond car is best or even their favourite.
Do you go for good looks or performance? Style or substance? Toyota or Aston Martin? Citroen or BMW?
With SPECTRE, Bond’s latest outing due in cinemas in November, RoyalAuto asked RACV’s Vehicle Engineering Team members to pick their favourite Bond car.
The results, published here, were in some cases surprising, in others predictable. But always revealing.
In the quest for Bond cars for our photo shoot we also learned something valuable about the various Bond car models. There are several in Victoria and each owner loves her or his car as much as if it were the original Bond vehicle. Some have even been in the same family for two generations. Now that’s stirring - Seamus Bradley, Editor RoyalAuto
Name: Brian Negus, general manager, public policy
Bond status: M
Bond car: DB5
The Aston Martin DB5 has everything a superspy could want: a dizzying array of weapons and Italian-designed good looks.
In the books, Bond drove a DB Mark III, but the DB5 was the newest Aston Martin available when 1964’s Goldfinger (my favourite Bond movie– I even have the title song as my ring tone) was being made. Never before had movie Bond been given his own car with special features.
But it is the DB5’s sheer good looks, sporty style and elegance that inspires in a way that even a modern top-of-the-range German marque (with better handling, safety features and more power) just can’t manage.
While the first Bond car in the movies (usually defined as one Bond hadn’t stolen) was the Sunbeam Alpine, the DB5 is my favourite Bond vehicle, beating even the Russian tank that Pierce Brosnan’s Bond steals in Goldeneye.
Name: Ernest Litera, senior product tester
Bond status: George Lazenby
Bond car: Vanquish
“Aston Martin call it the Vanquish, we call it the Vanish” announced Q, (John Cleese in Die Another Day). “Thousands of tiny mirrors make the car disappear by reflecting what they see on the opposite side,” Q smirked.
The Vanquish came with all the machine guns, rocket launchers and gadgets you expect, but there’s a scene where Bond, flipped on his roof by a Jaguar, uses the seat ejector to flip the Aston back onto its wheels, a fine example of Bond defying the laws of physics.
As a British agent, Bond should never be equipped with anything foreign (read BMW Z3). Jaguars are too prissy. Bentleys too lardy. But Aston Martins mirror the Bond persona. Having pressed more than a few nose prints onto the glass at Emptor Motors, a Melbourne Aston dealership during my school days, I still drool over the DBS-V8, but laugh out loud at Bond’s ludicrous escape over snow in The Living Daylights. Despite being head of RACV road testing for more than 30 years I have never driven an Aston Martin.
Name: Nick Platt, senior engineer, vehicles
Bond status: Timothy Dalton
Bond car: Citroen 2CV 6
It would have been easy to pick one of the many Aston Martins that Bond has driven but, let’s face it, exotic though they might be, 007s Astons have been mostly a waste of British taxpayer’s money. More often than not Bond has been captured directly after driving one despite the gadgets. The little yellow Citroen 2CV featured in For Your Eyes Only was well up to the task of getting Bond and his er … “friend” Melina Havelock the heck out of there.
Despite lacking the traditional Bond car virtues of power, speed, svelte looks, gadgets and downright sexiness, ‘le petit escargot jaune’ manages to lose the Peugeot driving goons in a helter-skelter automotive war of attrition just by being indestructible.
Back in 1981 you could rock up to a Citroen dealer in the UK and drive away in a tasteful special edition 2CV. It was yellow just like in the film and had ‘007’ written in discreet 60cm letters on the bonnet and doors. They also chucked in a handful of fake bullet-hole stickers for that final ‘je ne sais quoi’.
Name: Michael Case, manager, vehicle engineering
Bond status: Sean Connery
Bond car: Aston Martin DB5
Classy and deadly, the 1963 Aston Martin DB5, clearly the most iconic and recognised Bond car first appeared in Goldfinger. It set the benchmark for appropriate secret agent transport, by which all future Bond cars would be judged.
The first car developed by Q- division. It came with a range of gadgets that arguably haven’t been surpassed.
Machine guns emerge from park lights, oil sprays from tail lights, a bullet shield raises behind the rear window and baffling to engineers, a rear axle and wheel retaining spinner capable of extending and slashing an adversary’s tyres. Yet by far the most entertaining feature was its passenger ejector seat.
It would be inappropriate to condone the set of rotating number plates, but they are cool, as is the ready-for-any-occasion standard-issue bottle of Dom Perignon 53 and chilled glasses resting in the console holder. By this standard, the Renault 11 taxi from A View To A Kill is the most awful Bond car, thankfully decapitated and chopped in half during a pursuit.
So appropriate and identifiable was the DB5 which kicked off the relationship with Aston Martin, that it has made a number of cameo appearances in later Bond films including the most recent Skyfall. The DB5 was immortalised with all its gadgets as a die cast model by Corgie and, as a collector, it’s probably as close as I will get to owning one.
Name: Blake Harris, engineer, vehicles
Bond status: Daniel Craig
Bond car: Toyota 2000GT
One of the greatest Bond cars was never actually driven by James Bond. It is the Toyota 2000GT from the 1967 film You Only Live Twice. In fact, the beautiful 2000GT is one of my favourite cars of all time as the first Japanese supercar.
The 2000GT was driven by Bond girl Aki of the Japanese Secret Service and was used to rescue James on many occasions throughout the movie. While not a Q car, it had been fitted with video communication equipment which would have been very futuristic in 1967.
This system was used in a classic scene to call for a helicopter which picked up Bond’s pursuers using a large magnet and dropped their car in the sea.
Of the 351 2000GT’s that Toyota produced, only two were built as convertibles, specifically for this movie as Sean Connery was too tall to fit in the regular coupe. Having had the privilege of sitting in one it is easy to see why – they are a very small sports car.
My most despised Bond car is the BMW Z3 from Golden Eye. Although it was delivered by Q branch with plenty of gadgets, none were used and the car didn’t play a significant role in what was a fairly average Bond film. It was merely product placement.
Name: Greg Hill, product tester
Bond status: Roger Moore
Bond car: Lotus Esprit S1
The Lotus Esprit S1 in the 1977 Bond classic, The Spy Who Loved Me, epitomises the subtle but essential role the “Q” factor plays in the excitement and success of the Bond films.
The distinctly sleek wedged shape body of the Esprit has a unique look that people either love or hate. Personally, I don’t think it is the prettiest of the Bond Cars but its exploits and transformation, courtesy of the magnificent “Q” touches, are legendary.
The incredible nimbleness of the Esprit is put to the test in a fabulous chase scene. Bond sidesteps an on-coming truck, evades a bomb-laden sidecar before dodging, weaving and spinning around to avoid the barrage of machine gun fire from a pursuing helicopter. Running out of road, Bond drives off the end of a pier and into the sea – much to the horror of his beautiful female passenger. Thanks to Q, all is not lost. The car miraculously turns into a missile equipped submarine.
With one shot, the helicopter is disposed of and Bond heads off to do some underwater exploration of an enemy base. The irony of using the Lotus, a car that would barely keep you dry in a light shower, as a submarine is not lost either by the producers.
As the Lotus exits the water and drives up a crowded beach, there is a nod from the perfectly dry Bond (Roger Moore) as he casually throws a fish out the window.
It is the best and worst Bond car all in one.