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Movie Week: The cars of James Bond


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Movie Week: The cars of James Bond

The cars of James Bond

The cars of James Bon

In the real world, secret agents and spies draw as little attention to themselves as possible. Drab clothes, dreary locations, and unremarkable cars. The aim is to be entirely forgettable.

Fortunately, fiction leaves more room for the exotic, which is why James Bond (the world's greatest secret agent, in case you hadn't heard) can drive cars that turn every head on the street, making it impossible to maintain a low profile.

From the classic Aston Martin DB5, to a dalliance with BMW in the '90s, and the infamous invisible car of 2002's Die Another Day, James Bond's ride is never dull.

Aston Martin DB5

Aston Martin DB5

The Aston Martin DB5 first appeared in Goldfinger (1964), and while Bond's had many cars since, that original silver dream machine has never been bettered.

Appearing in six Bond movies over the years (Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale and Skyfall), the DB5 has also had its share of Q-approved upgrades.

The Goldfinger incarnation came packing gun barrels behind the front indicators, a bullet shield behind the rear window and a 3-way revolving front number plate. Pierce Brosnan's Bond enjoyed more subtle upgrades in Goldeneye, with a teleprinter disguised as a CD player, and a champagne cooler (for drink driving convenience).

The Goldfinger DB5 was sold in 2010 for US$4.6m. Money well spent.

Toyota 2000GT

Toyota 2000GT

With You Only Live Twice set primarily in Japan it was only natural that at some point Bond would find himself in Japan's first supercar, the Toyota 2000GT.

Belonging to Japanese S.I.S. agent Aki, only 351 of the Toyota 2000GT were ever produced, and the film's car was unique due to its open top – the regular car's hard top was too restrictive for the 189 cm Sean Connery to fit comfortably, so Toyota customised two cars for the film.

Lotus Esprit S1

Lotus Esprit S1

On the road, Bond's ride from The Spy Who Loved Me may not look like much – especially when compared with that glorious DB5 – but this little white number comes with a big surprise.

Having taken a dive off the end of a pier, you'd think the S1 would at the very least need a session with an industrial blowdryer. Instead, its wheels folded away, transforming the S1 into a sleek submarine.

And the underwater incarnation of the S1 wasn't a model. It was a completely functional submarine build into the shell of one of Lotus' cars.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Aston Martin V8 Vantage

After an 18-year break, The Living Daylights saw Bond return to the brand in which he belongs – the Aston Martin.

One of Bond's more gadget-packed cars, the Vantage was equipped with spike-producing tires, missiles, and a self-destruct function. The car also featured outrigger skis, wheel-mounted lasers and a rocket booster.

Bond clearly likes a bit of variety, and the Vantage indulges him by switching from a convertible to winterised hardtop later in the film.

Ford Mustang Mach 1

Ford Mustang Mach 1

While Bond was not actually the owner of the Ford Mustang Mach 1 – that particular privilege fell to smuggler Tiffany Case – he certainly put it through its paces while behind the wheel in Diamonds Are Forever.

007's had his fair share of near misses and miraculous escapes throughout the years, but perhaps his greatest achievement as a driver comes when he balances the Mach 1 on the car's two right wheels in order to fit down a narrow alley.

What's remarkable about this particular piece of wheel work is that when exiting the alley on the other side, Bond's managed to switch the Mach 1 to balance on its left side. That's some skill.

AMC Hornet

AMC Hornet

Perhaps second only to his miraculous feat in the Mustang Mach 1 is Bond's stunt while driving the AMC Hornet in The Man with the Golden Gun.

Desperately in need of a car to pursue a fellow M16 agent's kidnapper, Bond steals the Hornet from a nearby dealership – we suppose he has a licence for that, too – and then engages in a long chase that finds him on the wrong side of a river with a broken bridge.

Naturally, an obstacle like this is no match for 007, and he soon performs the 360-degree barrel roll jump that was the film's landmark stunt. A customised version of the Hornet was used for the stunt, with a lower stance and larger wheel wells helping Bond (well, a stuntman) land the jump perfectly.

BMW Z8

BMW Z8

Arguably the best-looking car from Bond's BMW period, the Z8 armed Pierce Brosnan with a seamless blend of '60s styling and '90s gadgetry.

While not overloaded with tech, 007 was able to control the car remotely. And an attacking helicopter came to a fiery demise thanks to the vehicle's surface-to-air missiles.

Sadly, the car was finished when a second helicopter arrived and used hanging circular saws to cut it in half. An end made all the more tragic by the fact that BMW only produced 5,703 of the Z8.

Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin DBS

A new Bond calls for a new Aston Martin, and Casino Royale's DBS must have been a very pleasant welcome gift for Daniel Craig.

While not boasting much in the way of gadgets, the immaculate styling we've come to expect from Aston Martin made it all the more difficult to watch as *spoilers* the car was totalled towards the film's climax.

The stunt actually broke the world record for the highest number of rolls in a car – the previous record was had been held by a Top Gear stuntman – turning seven times before coming to rest. The car wouldn't flip by itself, so a compressed air cannon had to fire a cylinder into the road to achieve the desired result.

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