Iconic James Bond Cars: The Ultimate 007 Driving Machines RankedPublished Thursday, February 1, 2024
James Bond cars are legendary for their elegance and arsenal of gadgets, deeply intertwined with the spy’s identity. This article ranks these icons, unwrapping the mystique behind the Aston Martin DB5, the Lotus Esprit, and more, providing a glimpse into their allure and heritage in the Bond legacy.
The Quintessential James Bond Car: The Aston Martin DB5
The Aston Martin DB5, sleek, sexy, and deadly, is the epitome of ‘Bond’ and the most iconic Bond car. The DB5 serves as James Bond’s signature car, pioneering the standard for all subsequent Bond vehicles, including those used by Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This beautiful sports car, with its gleaming aluminium bodywork and luxurious leather interior, is so much more than just a mode of transport – it’s a symbol of Bond’s style, sophistication, and deadly efficiency.
Making a grand debut in the 1964 film ‘Goldfinger,’ the Aston Martin DB5 swiftly became the star of the show. This wasn’t your average sports car – it was an automotive masterpiece, equipped with:
- an ejector seat
- machine guns
- smoke screen
- tyre slashers
These high-tech gadgets not only thrilled audiences but also played pivotal roles in the movie’s plot. Following its feature in ‘Goldfinger,’ the DB5 became the best-selling toy of the year, cementing its iconic status in cinematic history.
Aston Martin DB5's Debut in Goldfinger
The DB5, making its first appearance in ‘Goldfinger,’ undeniably left a lasting impression. As soon as the DB5 rolled into Q’s lab, audiences were introduced to an array of never-before-seen gadgets, setting the scene for the car’s advanced technology. Some of the gadgets featured in the DB5 include:
- Tear-gas emitting parking meters
- Bullet-resistant jackets
- Revolving license plates
- Oil slick dispensers
- Smoke screen generators
The DB5 was a veritable arsenal on wheels.
But the fun didn’t stop there. The DB5 boasted impressive gadgets such as:
- an oil slick
- smoke screen
- front wing machine guns
- revolving number plates
- a futuristic GPS dashboard
These gadgets played pivotal roles in the film, with the ejector seat providing one of cinema’s most memorable moments. The oil slick and smoke screen were used in thrilling chases, and the tire slashers proved to be a surprise defence mechanism.
Return of the Iconic Car in Modern Bond Films
In 1995, after a 30-year lapse in the franchise, the DB5 staged a grand comeback in ‘GoldenEye’. The car was updated with a new radio and champagne cooler, reminding audiences of its timeless appeal. The DB5’s presence was further solidified in ‘Skyfall,’ where Bond used it to defend his ancestral home with its concealed weapons.
In the most recent Bond film, ‘No Time to Die,’ the DB5 was outfitted with twin M134 Miniguns behind its headlamps, still possessing classic features like its ejector seat. Aston Martin built eight DB5 stunt replicas for the chase scenes shot in southern Italy, demonstrating the car’s enduring importance in the franchise. The narrative thread was continued in ‘Spectre’, featuring Q in the process of reconstructing the DB5, with Bond ultimately driving off at the end of the film with the fully restored car.
Bond's Relationship with Sports Cars: From Lotus to BMW
Despite the Aston Martin DB5 taking the crown as the quintessential Bond car, the beloved secret agent has showcased a remarkable variety of sports cars throughout the film series. Some of the notable sports cars featured in the Bond films include:
- The sleek Lotus Esprit Turbo in ‘For Your Eyes Only’
- The high-tech BMW 750iL in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’
- The iconic Aston Martin Vanquish in ‘Die Another Day’
- The powerful Aston Martin DBS in ‘Casino Royale’
- The stylish Aston Martin DB10 in ‘Spectre’
Bond has proven that he has a taste for speed and style, as evidenced by the times bond drove his bond’s car with such finesse.
Let’s not forget the unforgettable self-destructing Lotus Esprit Turbo that was driven in the snowy landscape of Northern Italy, or the BMW 750iL, equipped with bulletproof windows, electrifying door handles, and roof-mounted missiles. These cars showcase Bond’s use of cutting-edge automotive technology, reminding us that Bond is always one step ahead of his adversaries.
The Underwater Lotus Esprit S1
The Bond car hall of fame reserves a special place for the Lotus Esprit S1. Made famous by Roger Moore’s portrayal of James Bond, the white Lotus Espirit S1 surprised audiences with its transformer-like abilities.
In ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, the Lotus Esprit S1 became an instant icon when it transformed into a submarine equipped with missiles. The unforgettable underwater chase scene, where Bond’s Lotus Esprit S1 turns into a submarine and engages in a skirmish, left audiences in awe and cemented the Lotus Esprit’s place in Bond history.
Bavarian BMW Police Cars in Action
While the Lotus Esprit S1 represented surprise, the BMW 750iL in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ embodied sheer firepower. The car was a mobile arsenal with twelve rockets mounted in the sunroof, showing Bond’s readiness for any situation.
The car chase scene showcasing the BMW 750iL took three weeks to shoot with a production team of 65 people, using 17 cars, some of which were modified for remote control by hidden drivers. The scene was a testament to the intricate planning and execution that goes into creating these iconic car chases.
Sean Connery to Daniel Craig: Evolution of Bond Cars Over the Decades
The evolution of Bond cars within the James Bond franchise, from Sean Connery’s 1961 Sunbeam Alpine Series II in ‘Dr. No’ to Daniel Craig’s Aston Martin DBS Superleggera in ‘No Time to Die’, parallels the thrill of the movies themselves. Each iconic Bond car reflects the era it was in and the Bond who drove it.
Roger Moore's Gadget-Filled Rides
During Roger Moore’s tenure as James Bond, there was a departure from the traditional Aston Martin vehicles, introducing a broader range of vehicles. From a double-decker 1947 AEC Regent III bus in ‘Live and Let Die’ to an AMC Hornet in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, Moore’s Bond was all about variety and surprise.
In ‘Live and Let Die’, an unforgettable scene featured the double-decker bus in a chase, while the AMC Hornet made cinematic history by executing a 360-degree barrel roll across a river in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’.
Timothy Dalton's High-Octane Adventures
Timothy Dalton’s take on Bond in ‘The Living Daylights’ witnessed the return of the Aston Martin, albeit with a twist. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante featured in the film was a high-octane beast, perfect for Dalton’s more serious and gritty portrayal of Bond.
Unexpected Heroes: When Bond Goes Unconventional
Just as not all heroes wear capes, not all Bond cars are sports cars. Throughout the series, our favourite secret agent has found himself behind the wheels of various unexpected vehicles, showcasing his adaptability in transportation choices. Some of the unconventional vehicles Bond has driven include:
- A double-decker bus in ‘Live and Let Die’
- A Tuk Tuk taxi in ‘Octopussy’
- A tank in ‘GoldenEye’
- A submarine car in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’
Bond’s choice of unconventional vehicles remind us that it’s not what you drive, but how you drive it, that matters.
The Humble Renault 11 Taxi Chase
In ‘A View to a Kill,’ Bond uses a commandeered Renault 11 for a car chase through the streets of Paris. The chase begins when James Bond hijacks the Renault 11 taxi, leading to the film’s iconic sequence.
Despite its humble appearance, the Renault 11 proved to be a formidable vehicle in a high-speed pursuit. During the pursuit, Bond follows an assassin in the Renault 11 which undergoes severe modifications in the chase; its roof is chopped off and eventually, the entire back half is ripped off, yet Bond continues the pursuit.
Bond's Off-Road Escapades in a Land Rover Defender
Bond’s off-road escapades in a Land Rover Defender, as well as the classic Land Rover Series III, highlight his versatility in various driving situations. The Land Rover Defender, including models like the Defender 90, has become a staple in recent James Bond films for off-road chases and action-packed scenes.
In ‘No Time To Die,’ a Land Rover Defender is part of Bond’s crucial mission to save a kidnapped scientist. Equipped with 395 hp at 5500 rpm and 406 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm, the 2020 Land Rover Defender is perfect for Bond’s high-speed off-road pursuits.
High Stakes on the Las Vegas Strip: Memorable Car Chases
Featuring the Ford Mustang Mach 1 in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, one of the most memorable car chases in Bond history unfolds. This high-stakes pursuit on the Las Vegas Strip showcased Bond’s driving skills and quick thinking.
The iconic maneuver of the chase involved James Bond putting the Mustang Mach 1 on two wheels to navigate through a narrow pedestrian walkway, creating a classic Bond moment. During the filming of this action-packed pursuit, several Fords were destroyed, emphasizing the sequence’s high stakes and intensity.
Bond's Gadgets on Wheels: Q Branch's Finest Work
Famed not only for their aesthetics, Bond’s cars are also renowned for their sophisticated onboard gadgetry. From the Aston Martin DB5’s ejector seat to the Lotus Esprit’s transformation into a submarine, Bond’s cars are integral to his spy persona.
The Mobile Arsenal: Machine Guns and Missiles
Bond’s cars often double as a mobile arsenal, equipped with everything from machine guns to missiles. The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, for instance, featured in ‘Die Another Day’, showcased an array of lethal features including missiles and machine guns.
The BMW 750iL from ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ also boasted a mobile arsenal with twelve rockets mounted in the sunroof, demonstrating Q Branch’s expertise in vehicular weaponry.
Ingenious Escapes: Smoke Screens and Self-Inflating Tires
Beyond the firepower, Bond’s cars are also equipped with ingenious escape gadgets like smoke screens and self-inflating tires. These features have aided Bond in his missions, allowing him to escape sticky situations and outsmart his adversaries.
Bond Cars in the Real World: Exhibits and Experiences
After exploring the exhilarating world of Bond cars on screen, we shift focus to how fans can experience these iconic vehicles in the real world. From the Bond in Motion exhibition to immersive driving experiences, Bond cars have transcended the confines of the silver screen and entered the realms of reality.
From Screen to Showroom: Bond Cars on Display
Vehicles such as the Renault 11 Taxi and Aston Martin DB10, once Bond’s cars, have transitioned into museum exhibits and showroom displays. These vehicles, once part of cinematic history, are now tangible artifacts for fans to admire.
The Aston Martin DB10, developed exclusively for the 24th Bond film, ‘Spectre’, with only 10 units made, is a prime example of the significant bond between cinematic history and automotive design.
Behind the Wheel: Driving a Piece of Cinema History
While admiring these vehicles from afar is one aspect, getting behind the wheel is a completely different experience. Thanks to Car Chase Heroes driving experiences, fans can drive replicas of iconic Bond cars, simulating the adrenaline-charged driving sequences from the films.
These driving experiences are available at multiple venues, providing fans with a unique opportunity to step into Bond’s shoes and experience a piece of cinema history.
From the iconic Aston Martin DB5 to the unconventional Renault 11 Taxi, the Land Rover Defender’s off-road escapades to the high-octane BMW 750iL, Bond’s cars have become as synonymous with the franchise as the man himself. Whether it’s through high-speed car chases, underwater escapades, or clever gadgetry, each Bond car has left an indelible mark on cinematic history. So next time you watch a Bond film, pay close attention to the cars - they’re not just vehicles, they’re characters in their own right, each one with a story to tell.
Frequently Asked Questions
Did James Bond ever drive a Jaguar?
Yes, James Bond did drive a Jaguar in the movie "Die Another Day." He drove a Jaguar XKR in the film.
What car does James Bond drive in GoldenEye?
In the movie GoldenEye, James Bond drives an Aston Martin DB5 without any gadgets, but with a champagne cooler and fax machine. (source: fansshare)
What is the most iconic James Bond car?
The most iconic James Bond car is the Aston Martin DB5, which debuted in the 1964 film 'Goldfinger'. It's a classic!
What was the first car driven by James Bond in the film series?
The first car driven by James Bond in the film series was the 1961 Sunbeam Alpine Series II, featured in 'Dr. No'.
Can fans drive replicas of Bond cars?
Yes, fans can drive replicas of Bond cars through Car Chase Heroes' driving experiences.