James Bond is known for his tuxedos, his martinis, his girls, his gadgets, and most importantly his cars. Everybody knows the classics, but does anyone really remember when he drove a Citroen?
Bond has a sense of class and sophistication about him that every person watching wishes they could emulate. Especially when behind the wheel of an expensive car involved in a high speed pursuit, he maintains his cool and collected outlook, and comes across as the ultimate gentleman. A witty one liner or quip serves to further endear him to the viewer, as he speeds away from his opponent’s wrecked Mercedes.
From Aston Martins to Jaguars, we have produced an exhaustive list of the weirdest and most wonderful facts about Britain’s most famous secret agent, and more specifically, about his cars. From the fastest to the barmiest, the classiest to the most trashed up, this is your one stop list for all things related to Bond’s vehicles.
007’s license to kill may allow him to shoot whomever he so desires on sight, but it is his license to thrill that allows him to power-slide Porsches and handbrake turn a Toyota. Well, maybe not those specific examples, but you get the picture. Obviously this list is chalk full to the brim of Aston Martins, but you might find some surprising names and brands if you delve deep enough.
20 The first Bond car was actually a Bentley
In the books, at least, James Bond was said to drive a distinctive “Blower” Bentley with an iconic supercharger on the front grill. Only 720 of the Bentley 4 and a half liters were ever made, and apparently Bond owned one of them.
Perhaps the Bentley was an appropriate car for Bond, as in its day it was a mean machine. In 1928, a Bentley 4 and a half liter driven by Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin achieved first place in the 24 Hour Race at Le Mans. I can’t help but feel that James Bond would have needed such consistent performance for his vehicle of choice, were he to need to make a quick getaway at any point.
Often thought of as the Spitfire of cars, the classic Bentley was driven by Bond until the novel Goldfinger, in which it was switched for an Aston Martin DB3. When the film adaptation of Fleming’s novel came out, they updated it to the most modern Aston at the time, the DB5. The only Bentley to ever feature in the films is the 1935 3.5 liter Drophead coupe Park Ward, which cameoed in From Russia with Love. Hardly a fitting tribute to the original Bond car.
19 Aston Martin didn’t want the DB5 in Goldfinger
Whether to do with the fact that Bond originally owned a Bentley or not, Aston Martin did not want their DB5 to be used in Goldfinger, and the people at James Bond had to pay them for the use of their car. Once their hands were on it though, they added countless gadgets such as a bulletproof window, a rotating number plate, and, of course, an ejector seat. However, after the success of the film and the popularity of the DB5 in it, Aston Martin let them use as many cars as they wanted in following films.
The DB5 itself carries a 4 liter, 6 cylinder engine, providing 282 brake horsepower at 5,500 rpm. Which really isn’t bad considering it was made in 1963. It can get from 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 142 mph. You can tell why the Bond filmmakers wanted to use this top of the range Aston in Goldfinger. Even before the gadgets were added, the supercar of the sixties was the ultimate Bond-mobile.
And you can tell why, as the DB5 quickly became one of the most iconic cars in film history, going on to feature in five further Bond films and countless other references and merchandise.
18 Speaking of pop culture references…
The car most closely associated with Bond has somehow blended into popular culture, being referenced not only by fans in everyday life, but also recognized by other filmmakers and famous fans around the world. This just goes to show how much of a cultural phenomenon Bond actually is, and his iconic wheels have been referenced and parodied in the following films and games, however the list is by no means limitless:
The classic DB5 has appeared in Bond rival The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in the 1983 film The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair, driven by none other than former Bond George Lazenby. More references to Bond are made following the cameo, including a female character saying “It’s just like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
An imitation named the “James Bomb” appeared in Grand Theft Auto: London 1969. Grand Theft Auto V featured a certain “JB 700”, also based on the DB5, stolen from a film set and complete with some of the gadgets from Goldfinger.
Leonardo DiCaprio imitated Bond’s classic suit while driving the Aston Martin DB5 in 2002’s Catch Me If You Can.
A stylized DB5 appeared in animated film Cars 2, voiced by British actor Michael Caine in another obvious homage. The car is, like Bond, a British secret agent.
17 You can’t buy either of the cars featured in Spectre
Moving from the oldest Bond Aston Martin to the newest, the Aston Martin DB10 was built especially for 2015’s Spectre, meaning that it is a one-off. Well, ten of them were made, but only for production of the film. Starting life as a concept sketch for the V8 Vantage, the DB10 is essentially a Vantage with some slight modifications to the chassis and engine.
The Jaguar C-X75 came off a shelved Jaguar supercar project, meaning that you’re going to struggle to get one of those either. While perhaps a missed marketing opportunity for Jaguar, the beautifully orange C-X75 very nearly steals the show from Aston Martin, which sure is a rarity in Bond films. I mean, Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce was a key plot point, but it wasn’t really that cool, was it?
The fact that neither of these cars were in production at the time of filming meant that it was an odd advertising choice for the manufacturers. It made sense for Bond to have access to concept cars and you never know, Aston Martin could be working with MI6 to create cars for British secret agents in real life, but it is still odd from the perspective of the companies themselves.
16 They destroyed 7 out of the 10 DB10s made for the film
Gadget technician and MI6’s resident car mechanic Q urges Bond to try to bring the cars back in one piece each time he goes off on a mission, but apparently the filmmakers aren’t held to the same standards. As such, 70% of the one of a kind vehicles were destroyed while filming. It’s a shame, considering the car never went into production.
Obviously much of this damage was intentional, when cars crashed on-screen and needed to be shot from many different angles, but apparently the combined cost of all the vehicles destroyed in Spectre came to an astounding £24 million ($33.5 million).
This pales into insignificance when compared with Fast &Furious 7, however, which destroyed 230 cars during shooting, but this serves to make the Aston martin DB10 an even rarer car than it already was. If only Spectre had been a little more careful when attacking Bond whilst he was driving, we might have a slightly higher chance at getting our hands on one of the unique DB10s. It was outrun by the Jaguar anyway, though, so do you really want one? If you answered yes, your closest chance will probably be waiting for the V8 Vantage which it was based on.
15 The most expensive Bond car
After all the pop culture references and the general popularity of the DB5, it is hardly a surprise that it is the most expensive Bond car ever sold at auction. Back in 2010, the classic Aston Martin at the centre of British car culture sold for £2,912,000 (over four and a half million dollars) at RM auctions in London.
While classic cars often fetch eye-watering prices, this is an even bigger figure than usual for such a vehicle. Despite being featured in Goldfinger, the DB5 sold at auction was unlikely to be fitted with machine guns or bullet proof shields or an ejector seat, as I’m sure at least one of them would provide serious safety concerns, but you can always use your imagination.
The DB10 from Spectre was custom-built for the film, customers have only been able to buy the limited edition car at auction, after James Bond filmmakers were done with it.
Despite only 3 being left at the end of production (see above), one of the last examples sold at Cristie’s in London for £2,434,500 (nearly three and a half million dollars). It is almost surprising that this supercar didn’t sell for more than an old classic motor, but then again, it is the DB5 we’re talking about.
14 Personal modifications
The 2000GT featured in You Only Live Twice, and at that point in time was only available in a coupe version. But, Sean Connery, at 1.89m tall, literally couldn’t fit in. Evidently desperate to use the Toyota, the filmmakers decided to just cut the top off and call it a convertible. And, let’s be serious, Sean Connery isn’t even that tall…
Despite not having any semblance of a roof, folded down or not, and with no windows at all (other than a windscreen), the car made it into the final movie, and mostly went unnoticed. So, here’s to you doing it yourself and seeing how it goes, think of all those crazy car conversions that you’ve always wanted to do. If James Bond can do it, so can you.
Connery, the tallest ever Bond, drives in looking all cocky and Bond-like, but all Bond’s panache would have evaporated when the rain comes. Instead of looking crisp and cool, Bond would be turned into a damp and shivering man, due to the ultimate lack of roof over his head. Although, I guess Bond has access to other vehicles, Aston Martins and such, for those cold winter months.
13 Record Breaker
Casino Royale’s car barrel roll stunt with the Aston Martin DBS broke the world record for the most barrel rolls assisted by a cannon. Daniel Craig’s Aston Martin DBS managed to be cannoned into seven full barrel rolls during this ambitious stunt. The vehicle that performed the rolls was actually a modified redundant DB9 development car, but it was changed to look like the brand new DBS used for the close-up shots throughout the film.
In total, 3 Aston Martin DBS replicas were destroyed in filming different parts of this stunt, but the most impressive was undoubtedly the seven barrel rolls along the grass using a massive piston cannon and a stunt driver named Adam Kirley. The driver somehow managed to walk away from the Aston completely unharmed, although the same could not be said for Bond…
Stunts are a key part of any car chase, and any James Bond film, and this explosive end to an otherwise brief chase is not only record-breaking, but an iconic and exciting twist that audiences were surprised and astonished to watch.
This is arguably the most exciting stunt ever performed in Bond history, mostly because it was all pretty real, rather than having additional computer effects added.
12 The One Take Stunt
One take. The driver and camera crews for The Man With the Golden Gun really only had one chance to make this jump work, otherwise either the car or bridge would likely be destroyed. But they did it, in one take. That is an almighty feat, and a very impressive stunt.
The infamous stunt was also captured by no less than eight cameras. They were set up to capture the jump from eight different angles so that the jump would only have to be performed once, and therefore all of the jumps would look identical from each camera angle – because they were the same jump.
The AMC Hornet X that performed the jump was the only ever AMC to feature in a Bond film (I wonder why), and this was the first stunt ever to be calculated by computer modeling. A computer calculated angles and flight paths and other much more complicated things I’m sure, and then all the stunt driver had to do was flip a car on its horizontal axis. Simple. This sounds impressive even now, but this was a computer from 1974, when computers weren’t a fraction as powerful as a modern mobile phone, let alone a modern computer.
11 Have a freebie, Dan
For his time as James Bond, Daniel Craig has the privilege of taking any Aston Martin from the factory for the rest of his life. Is this not the dream? Not only do you get to play (and be) James Bond, having drinks and shooting baddies and kissing ladies and driving fast cars, but you get free Aston Martins for life.
As a matter of fact, Daniel Craig recently sold one of his own limited edition Bond Aston Martins for a £334,000 (four hundred and sixty five thousand dollars), and it seems that he is turning this deal into a fairly profitable business plan. I mean, surely there’s only so many Aston Martins one man needs, right? Like, seven or something? One for each day of the week? Anything else is excessive.
Daniel Craig has played Bond four times, and has made the role his own with a grittier style than previous portrayals, and it was evidently his excellent driving and car chases that attracted the British car company to offer him this huge gift. After all, they didn’t do this for Pierce Brosnan, as far as we’re aware.
10 Sean Connery Had To Stop Going To Premieres
This because a crazed fan tried to jump into the car he was driving during the Thunderball Paris premiere. Not strictly Bond film related, but Sean Connery couldn’t believe this crazy stunt. Premieres are a chance for fans to see their heroes, and their heroes to see themselves on the big screen for the first time. Usually thoroughly enjoyed by all, they usually give the director and minor actors a chance to dress up in a tux and imagine they’re James Bond, and Sean Connery to just take in the applause and a nice pay packet.
But fans can get really wild, can’t they? Sean Connery is pretty much an older version of One Direction, or at least Harry Styles, and we all know how fans go crazy about him. It’s just, back in the day, fans tended to be a little more refined, and so climbing on top of Connery’s car was even more astonishing. That’s regardless of the fact that they could have sustained an injury, or, worse, scratched the paintwork on the car’s roof. At least, I hope it was a coupe…
Anyway, one crazy fan put our man Sean off going to premieres for a while. He could face off against many villains, but fans, now that’s another matter entirely.
9 What a joker!
Stuntman Bob Simmons was in charge of the scene in Thunderball, in which Spectre agent Fiona Volpe, played by Luciana Paluzzi, launches rockets while riding a motorbike in order to blow up Count Lippe’s car. Simmons was challenged with driving the car, before leaping clear after the explosion from the rocket took place. He managed to jump clear as the car crashed into a ditch, but then seemed to disappear.
As the worried crew frantically looked for him, the practical joker stuntman sneaked up behind Terence Young, the director, and asked him if he’d managed to do the scene right.
However, in another twist to the tale, additional camera footage shot from a different angle later showed that Simmons, while attempting to stand up in the ditch after escaping the car, had actually fallen backwards into the flaming car, and was forced to escape the raging inferno through the passenger door on the other side! It’s lucky he had a sense of humor to see the funny side of that, as well as his quick reflexes to escape the burning car. Or maybe, like James Bond, Bob Simmons will only live twice.
8 A celebrity owner
Aside from the obvious debate about when he will turn into a fully blown Hugo Drax style Bond villain, Elon Musk is everyone’s favorite eccentric billionaire. Just wait until he starts the Moonraker program of rockets in a secret volcano and swaps the Bowie tunes for something more foreboding…
But, not content with his billions and his scientific advances into areas of green energy and electric vehicles, Elon Musk actually bought the semi-aquatic Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me.
Whether it can actually drive underwater is unknown (it categorically cannot), but perhaps the Tesla owner is thinking of his future business ventures, and is furiously debating adding water functionality to the next Tesla Roadster? I mean, what else is the Roadster really missing other than the ability to turn into a submarine?
Musk spent £616,000 (nearly one million dollars) on the Lotus, and The Guardian reported that he said “I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform. What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real.” Whether this comes true or not, only time will tell, but surely if anyone can make a car transform into a submarine, then it is Elon Musk.
7 We can’t forget the tank!
What could be cooler than driving a tank around? We were all very jealous of Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye, when he got to drive a Russian T-54/55 tank, loaned to the filmmakers from the East England Military Museum. The filmmakers added modifications such as fake explosive reactive armor panels. When filming in St Petersburg, more modifications were made, and the steel off-road track of the loaned tank were replaced with rubber-shoed tracks from a British Chieftain tank, so that the pavements of the historic Russian city would not be destroyed.
According to 007.com, three genuine T-55 tanks were used in the filming of the climatic tank chase, and one fake. The fake one was a dummy built around a Saladin armored car. The only slight disappointment was that Pierce Brosnan was not actually driving the tank (spoilsports), and the hatch that his little head is bobbing out of was custom built for close-up shots. The actual driver sits on the left in a T-55, whereas Bond was on the right.
One of the stuntmen working on the shoot, Jim Dowdall, claimed that the tank power slides were assisted by covering the road in gallons upon gallons of washing-up liquid. A novel approach, but it looked pretty awesome!
6 The fastest Bond car ever
"But which car that Bond has driven is the fastest?" I hear you shout. It’s the DB10. I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? The most recent film, and therefore the most recent car, is the fastest one. It’s based on a concept for the 2019 V8 Vantage, with some cosmetic changes, and uses most of the old Vantage’s engines, wheels, and so on.
While, as it is a completely fictional car, its actually specifications can only be guessed at, topspeed.com believe that the engine “is expected to deliver around 500 horsepower” and “should be able to sprint from naught to 60 mph in less than four seconds on its way to a top speed in excess of 180 mph.” While none of this is particularly specific, it’s certainly a nippy little thing, isn’t it?
The first Aston Martin to be built specifically for a James Bond film, the DB10 is the fifth Aston to feature in a Bond movie since Goldfinger in 1964. Perhaps it is a snapshot into the workings of the British manufacturer’s mind, and potentially a preview of the forthcoming DB11. But then again, maybe it will forever remain a thing of fiction and myth, and only a handful of people will ever know the truth.
5 A two-wheeled cameo
We’ve talked a lot about Bond’s cars, but what about his bikes? The first appearance of a main character on two wheels was in Thunderball in 1965. Motorcycles went on to feature prominently in no less than 10 films, but it all began with the BSA A65 Lightning. It’s hardly up to the same standards with the James Bond’s cars though, as it could go solidly at 70 miles per hour, but if you drove it above 6,200 revs per minute, its headlight bulb was known to break.
A top speed of 108 miles per hour is quite disappointing for a motorbike, and the Lightning seems quite disappointing overall to be honest. Better bikes followed the A65, but perhaps its disappointing performance killed the possibility of better and bigger bikes from stealing the show in following films.
Ridden by Fiona Volpe in the film, the bike takes part in a very exciting chase, made more dangerous by the addition of the bike.
Without the style, or the power of a Triumph, it’s actually quite an odd choice for Bond’s first motorcycle. Maybe the filmmakers were trying to make him look more “normal”, or maybe it was an advertising push? Who knows really?
4 The most “normal” car Bond has ever driven
Speaking of the most “normal” vehicles that Bond has driven, the Citroen 2CV is the obvious choice. The original has a cracking 0.4 litre engine that provides 24 brake horsepower for the little yellow car. It can just about manage to reach 63 miles per hour, and would have likely cost around £3,000 back in the day. That’s all very affordable for a Bond car, however it’s not a looker, so perhaps it’ll be For Your Eyes Only. Get it?
However, Citroen released a special edition of the 2CV, emblazoned with the 007 logo on every possible surface, which has only managed to make the little French car even uglier. I can only imagine what it would look like with the addition of the supplied stick-on bullet holes.
So this tiny, and honestly terrible, car is technically a Bond car, but (unless you get the 2CV 007 version) nobody will know that it is actually a Bond car. Maybe it’s worth saving up a bit more for a nice Jaguar or, if you’re doing really well, save for an Aston. Not the DB5, that’s unreasonable, but a different Aston perhaps. Whatever you do, don’t buy this simply because it’s a Bond car. Please.
3 The two wheeled mismatch
Diamonds Are Forever produced some memorable moments, and one of the highlights was Sean Connery’s Bond squeezing down narrow alleys of Las Vegas in a Mustang. And you thought this was all going to be British… Anyway, he gets to an alley just too thin for the Mustang to fit down. Ingenious as ever, Bond uses a handy ramp to bring the Mustang onto two wheels.
The problems arose when director Guy Hamilton filmed the car exiting the alley on its two left wheels, but when Cubby Broccoli shot the entrance to the alley, the car was balancing on its right two wheels. It’s hard to say who was wrong here, but both directors refused to reshoot the scene, so another shot was added to indicate Bond flipping the car onto its other two wheels. Nonetheless, it still looks a little odd once you notice it.
The stunt was impressive for its time, but now (especially when you’ve noticed the continuity error) it seems a little lackluster. Still, it’s nice to see a rare glimpse of Bond behind the wheel of a Mustang, and the Mach 1 is an iconic design, almost as iconic as Bond’s DB5, but in a more American way.
2 The plane in Spectre was actually being driven
That means that this technical car deserves a place on our list, if not for being simply the weirdest car, but for the fact that eight different planes/cars were involved in shooting the one sequence where it skids down a mountainside. It’s quite an impressive sequence, and the plane systematically gets more and more dilapidated the more it is shot at and the more buildings it slides through.
The production team had it all against them, however, as not only did they have to coordinate a massive stunt chase involving a plane that was also a car, they also had to battle against unseasonal weather in Austria!
The lack of snow forced them to make 400 tonnes of fake snow to completely cover a section of the mountainside. Fake snow is often made out of shredded napkins, which doesn’t sound very Hollywood, but is probably very cheap, so long as they aren’t used ones. Let’s just hope that meant it wasn’t too cold for them.
Chases with cars is one thing, but chases involving huge planes, now that must take some coordination. I just can’t help but wonder about what was going on, how the plane was driven, how they directed it, and everything else. Thoroughly impressive stunting nonetheless.
1 And last of all, the forgotten failure
The moon buggy that Sean Connery steals from a film set as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever has embarrassingly failed to sell at auction on multiple occasions, including once on popular auction website eBay. This makes it the only Bond car that nobody wants to buy, as all others have at least sold for something when put up for auction.
Rumors once circulated that Connery himself wanted to buy the buggy, but the man who never took a single souvenir from a Bond set found little interest in the prop that was only briefly used, and used more for comedic effect than for a serious chase.
The rumors were, obviously, founded on nothing more than speculation, and Connery didn’t purchase the moon buggy.
What’s more, the buggy was found rusting in a farmer’s field in England, showing people’s disregard and lack of care for the vehicle. What this also means, is that much of the current buggy has been restored by charities and James Bond fan clubs run on donations. This therefore means that most of what potential bidders would be buying is actually just a replica, rather than any of the original car (if you can call it a car).