The Bond cars: Licence to thrill

By David Linklater

Nothing says James Bond like the Aston Martin DB5. Photo / Supplied
Nothing says James Bond like the Aston Martin DB5. Photo / Supplied

Fifty years of James Bond films and a special exhibition in London to celebrate! So what better way to kick off the year than starting a scrap over which Bond cars are the best and/or most interesting? I've limit myself to a top five, and as a Bond fan I've thought about this a lot.

I reckon there are two traps in choosing Bond cars: the first is to focus more on the gadgets and stunts the vehicles were involved in than in the interest of the cars themselves. The second: opting for the obscure to show that you know the films and automotive history better than anybody else.

There'll be none of that. My top five are chosen because they're interesting and/or significant in their own right, and all have played a major role on-screen. You probably won't agree but you can choose your own.

ASTON MARTIN DB5, GOLDFINGER (1964)

Painfully obvious and yet impossible to ignore. It's partly that Goldfinger set the template for the Bond franchise, with fast cars and fantastic gadgets, but also that the Aston Martin DB5 was one of the coolest cars in the world already.

Strip the ejector seat, revolving number plates and Browning machine guns away from the DB5 and Bond's car would still have become an icon - if not "the most famous car in the world", as the gadget-laden Bond Aston has become known.

The character of the Goldfinger Aston - registration number BMT216A - reappeared in Thunderball and Tomorrow Never Dies. The DB5 that appeared in Goldeneye was supposed to be a different car - BMT214A.

One of the real DB5s used in Goldfinger was sold at auction in London in 2010 for £2.91 million ($5.58 million).

TOYOTA 2000 GT, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967)

The Toyota 2000 GT, co-developed with and built by Yamaha, is a classic Japanese sports coupe, known for its aluminium construction, ultra-low roofline and high-tech equipment.

It was sold in tiny numbers, at very high prices.

It was never produced as a convertible, but two roofless examples were specially built for You Only Live Twice, some of which was filmed in Japan. The coupe and a trial targa model were both reportedly rejected because Sean Connery was too tall for the vehicle and looked comical.

The open-air 2000 GT seen in the film is not really a soft-top - the hump behind the cabin is designed to look like a folded roof but in reality there was no top fitted.

CITROEN 2CV, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981)

When Bond's white Lotus Esprit is destroyed, he resorts to using a yellow 2CV to escape a load of henchmen.

The 2CV was already one of the coolest small cars of all time, but a starring role in a Bond film gave it extra cult status.

Some sequences in the chase are spoiled by speeded-up film, but for the most part a lot of attention went into making the driving look real and giving the Tin Snail real dignity - some of the film cars were fitted with GS flat-four engines for extra speed.

BMW Z3, GOLDENEYE (1995)

The Z3 was a terrible car - overpriced and underdone compared with the Mazda MX-5 that inspired it. But it will always be remembered for its three-minute role in Goldeneye, as one of the most significant movie product-placement deals of all time (it appeared in the film months before its launch).

It was also the car that ushered in the divisive Bond-BMW era, which was framed by a three-picture deal. The next two Bond movies featured a 7 Series sedan and a Z8 roadster.

Goldeneye was directed by Kiwi Martin Campbell and was the first to star Pierce Brosnan. For my money, it's one of the best Bond movies of the modern era. And it does feature a DB5 in an epic car chase.

ASTON MARTIN VANQUISH, DIE ANOTHER DAY (2002)

Die Another Day, Brosnan's last Bond outing, was directed by Kiwi Lee Tamahori. It marked Bond's highly anticipated return to Aston Martin - a Vanquish V12 - as part of a product-placement deal with Ford, which owned Aston at the time.

The movie had the lamest Bond car-gadgets ever - a cloak of invisibility for the "Vanish". But there was some nice drifting on a frozen lake as Bond battled baddie Zao in his heavily armed Jaguar XKR.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 28 Jul 2014 22:18:53 Processing Time: 557ms