For many people watching a James Bond movie at Christmas is as traditional as turkey and presents. But what is it that has kept our most famous fictional spy popular for over 50 years?
Of course, the nature of Bond's character has changed with the times from Sean Connery's ultra-suave Bond, through the comedic elements of Roger Moore, through to the modern, gritty realism of Daniel Craig's spy, but one thing has never changed. They have all driven the very peak of motoring brilliance, Bond's cars have always been a key part of the story.
Through the years 007’s cars have been as varied as the sticky situations he has found himself in. Let’s take a look through the evolution of the cars James Bond has driven throughout his films:
Sunbeam Alpine Series II
Movie: Dr No (1962)
Bond: Sean Connery
In terms of Bond's cars, this Sunbeam Alpine Series II is remarkable in the fact that Q's lab made no alterations at all – no guns, no ejector seats, no gadgets at all! This two-seater sports drophead coupé, made by Rootes Group, set Bond’s on-screen driving off on a strong footing. It’s a vehicle that literally oozes sophisticated cool and is pure Bond.
1935 Bentley Mark IV
Movie: From Russia With Love (1963)
Bond: Sean Connery
When this Bentley appeared on screen, it was already 30 years old and considered a classic! Why use an old relic of a car? The producers included a Bentley in a homage to the Bentley 4.5 litre that James Bond drives in several of Ian Fleming’s novels. Pulling up the car’s convertible to it allows Bond some alone-time with Sylvia Trench on a picnic.
1963 Aston Martin DB5
Movie: Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), Goldeneye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Casino Royale (2006), Skyfall (2012).
Bond: Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig
The quintessential Bond car! Bond’s relationship with Aston Martin cars is as iconic as his tumbles with beautiful women. First on screen in the classic Goldfinger in 1964, the DB5 was reintroduced first in the 90s and then with Daniel Craig’s radical reimagining of the franchises in the noughties, as the modern Bond films made a nod to the past. Often referred to as the ‘James Bond car’, it could be said it is the Bond films that put Aston Martin on the map as the ultimate car for suave gentlemen.
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Movie: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Bond: Sean Connery
This Ford joined Bond on one of his most iconic car chases, surrounded by police cars along the Las Vegas strip. Seeing the increases in sales other car manufacturers had enjoyed by featuring in Bond films, Ford were keen to get their Ford Mustang on screen with Connery’s hands on the wheel. The Mach 1 was a perfect choice! They were so keen to get it featured that when cars were destroyed filming, they simply kept sending more and more brand new ones. Intended as the performance car for younger buyers, the Mach 1 had both the look and the power perfect for Bond.
1976 Lotus Esprit S1
Movie: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Bond: Roger Moore
By the late 70s Bond movies were unstoppable! That year The Spy Who Loved Me grossed a colossal 184 million dollars. Car wise, far from the ‘classic’ look of the early years, Bond got behind the wheel of the futuristic looking, and ultimately cool, Lotus Esprit S1.
It has become iconic in its own right as one of designer Giorgetto Giugiaro's polygonal ‘folded paper' designs. It looks like the future and with Qs boffins having a play it appeared on screen with Bond using it to travel on land, in the air and underwater! This wowed audiences in ways previous cars hadn't and added to the fantastical Moore era for Bond. What's most unbelievable is that the submarine version of the car was completely real, with producers having a real underwater submersible created from a Lotus shell for the film.
1962 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II
Movie: A View To Kill (1985)
Bond: Roger Moore
By the mid-80s things were changing and Roger Moore's style of Bond was going out of style, plus he was starting to appear too old for the role. 1985's A View To Kill was his last 007 movie and in order to celebrate Moore's iconic Bond, they needed to choose a car to match. Sophisticated, distinguished and cool – that's what they needed.
Step in the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II, owned by James Bond producer, and possible winner of the ‘best name ever’ award, Cubby Broccoli. It has already appeared briefly in Thunderball in 1965. To avoid damage to his beloved car a 1958 Bentley S1 was used as a stunt-double in action scenes.
1985 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante
Movie: The Living Daylights (1987)
Bond: Timothy Dalton
This car was actually released at the time of Roger Moore’s last Bond movie in 1985, but it is possible that this modern Aston Martin was being saved for Bond’s fresh reboot under Timothy Dalton – a new Aston for a new Bond era. It was the first Aston Martin in a Bond film for 18 years, and it looks almost the same as the DBS that appears in 1969’s Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which might explain the big gap. Repeating the look of cars in Bond movies is a no-no.
The Vantage Volante was also “improved” by Qs technical wizardry with the deployment of a pair of ski out-riggers allowing Bond to come out on top during a car chase on a frozen lake.
Movie: The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Bond: Pierce Brosnan
After a five year break, poor Dalton was a bit of a Bond flop, they rebooted with Pierce Brosnan – a new suave Bond for the 90s. BMW saw an opportunity and stepped in a car sponsor. Their bet paid off, Bond driving the BMW Z8 was pure Bond but updated.
It looked great and of the time, but with more Q additions it also had surface-to-air missile launchers (of course it did!). It didn’t last long though. A helicopter chops it in half!
Aston Martin DB10
Movie: Spectre (2015)
Bond: Daniel Craig
With the radical revamp of the Bond character under Daniel Craig they needed to tie some elements back to what fans saw as being Bond – that, of course, was the Aston Martin. In the first movie with Craig, a version of the classic DB5 was driven, but by 2015's Spectre an Aston that matched this new Bond era was needed.
The gorgeous DB10, with its sleek body, was a bespoke design for the movie with just 10 cars being made. It’s a completely new look for Aston – a 2-door coupe, but with an ultra-modern exterior and shape. The car marked 50 years of Bond and Aston Martin's relationship and was the sixth different Aston he had driven.