The best cars featured in James Bond films

by Andrew Frankel, Autocar UK 25 Aug 2019


The 25th James Bond film has been announced.

A press conference in Jamaica revealed that the new film is in production now, with locations including the Caribbean island – location of previous Bond outings Dr No and Live and Let Die – along with Norway, Italy, and the UK, with studio work taking place at Pinewood just outside London. 'Bond 25' is set for release in 2020.

Sadly, there was no mention of the new film's title, nor what cars will feature. Daniel Craig was however interviewed at the film's launch and revealed that his favourite Bond car was the Aston Martin DB5, first seen in Goldfinger (1964) but also driven by Craig's Bond in Skyfall, of 2012.

On August 15, this iconic Aston Martin DB5 'Bond Car' notched a record-breaking $6,385,000 (Rs 45.37 crore) during a single-marque 'Evening with Aston Martin' at RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction, making it the most valuable DB5 ever sold at auction and replete with all 13 original special-effects modifications completely restored.

Bond wouldn’t be Bond without his cars – let’s take an expert look at his best, along with the other famous cars that have featured over the years:

Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger - 1964)
I barely dare say this, but the DB5 is not quite as good as its legend would have you believe. Indeed I’d suggest that were it not for its starring role in Goldfinger, it would now be regarded merely as one of Aston’s better efforts. What it has in its favour are those landmark looks, a classic interior and a pleasantly characterful engine.

Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger - 1964)

Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger - 1964)
But a seminal driving experience it is not, dating as it does from an era when Aston Martin had progressed away from thoroughbred, race-proven sports cars it designed in the 1950s, to gentler, softer, more touring-oriented cars.

Wonderful to park outside the Gstaad Palace Hotel, less of a joy to drive over the mountains to get there.

Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger - 1964)

Toyota 2000GT Convertible (You Only Live Twice - 1967)
Almost a brilliant choice for Bond. Not just gorgeous but fascinating to look at and a properly important car too, as Japan’s first truly credible sports car.

Its 2.0-litre engine six-cylinder engine gave decent power for the era thanks to a Yamaha twin-cam head and triple carburetors and it even handled, rode and steered beautifully for the era.

Toyota 2000GT Convertible (You Only Live Twice - 1967)

Toyota 2000GT Convertible (You Only Live Twice - 1967)
And then they discovered Sean Connery was too tall (at 6 feet 2 inches) to squeeze comfortably into its cosy confines, a problem they solved by simply sawing the roof off to turn it into a terminally cool convertible.

Sadly, this is likely also to have had a catastrophic effect on its rigidity and turned a taut, finely honed sports car into a wobbling mess with all the structural integrity of a sandcastle.

Toyota 2000GT Convertible (You Only Live Twice - 1967)

Lotus Esprit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me - 1977)
This is a bit more like it? Surely? The early Esprit was sleek, sexy and  
handled like a dream. In reality however it was also plagued with teething troubles and somewhat inexact in its construction standards.

Brilliant at dodging trucks and exploding sidecars, but if one really had dived into the sea, it would have needed not only fins in its wheel wells but aqualungs in its glove box too.

Lotus Esprit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me - 1977)

Lotus Esprit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me - 1977)
You may remember Bond dropping a fish out of the window as he drove the car up the beach? How did it get in to begin with? My guess is it came in through the panel gaps.

Lotus Esprit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me - 1977)

Citroen 2CV6 (For Your Eyes Only - 1981)
I must declare an interest: I am a long-time lover of the 2CV and can see no fault in this flawless, thrilling icon of style and driving pleasure.

Ok, it’s a shed, a yellow shed full of bullet-holes in this particular case, but for fans of inverse snobbery, the 2CV was actually a very clever and quite cool choice.

Production understood that people would feel warm about 2CVs and thanks to handling that looked appalling but was actually closer to inspired, the car made an entirely credible anti-hero. Less credible was its apparent ability to outrun a pack of bad guys in Peugeot 504s.

Citroen 2CV6 (For Your Eyes Only - 1981)

Aston Martin Vanquish (Die Another Day - 2002)
Another crying shame, not the car this time but the entirely unbelievable and irredeemably lame film it was in.

Stripped of its preposterous invisible cloaking, the Vanquish was, in fact, perfect Bond fodder. It wasn’t just beautiful like some of his later Astons, it was muscular and a touch intimidating too.

Aston Martin Vanquish (Die Another Day - 2002)

Aston Martin Vanquish (Die Another Day - 2002)
Fast, loud and beautifully balanced, it was a real driver’s car and even the fact it’s truly flawed – the robotised gearshift is so bad that Aston will retrofit a manual gearbox – seems to suit the character of our superhero.

Aston Martin Vanquish (Die Another Day - 2002)

Aston Martin DB10 (Spectre - 2015)
Bond’s greatest automotive coup to date, not just because it was his first company car to be truly bespoke rather than a highly accessorized off-the-peg model, but because it wasn’t even meant for him.

For those who’ve not seen the film, he pinched it from 009. So trust the Jimster to then go and dump it in the River Tiber while, in quite a cool reinterpretation of a very old trick, ejecting himself to (relative) safety through its roof.

Aston Martin DB10 (Spectre - 2015)

Aston Martin DB10 (Spectre - 2015)
The car was actually a reclad V8 Vantage – well, 10 reclad V8 Vantages once you’d taken hero cars, stunt cars and promo cars into consideration – styled in house by Marek Reichman’s team at Aston Martin and was Bond’s best transport yet. Probably.

Aston’s Vantage unveiled in 2017 has more than a nod to the look of this car.

Aston Martin DB10 (Spectre - 2015)

Jaguar CX-75 (Spectre - 2015)
Bond is not averse to taking on somewhat daunting odds, but Mr Hinx in a CX-75? A Bond car chase has not seemed less plausible since a DB5-borne Pierce Brosnan somehow managed to keep up with Famke Janssen in a Ferrari F355.

Jaguar CX-75 (Spectre - 2015)

Jaguar CX-75 (Spectre - 2015)
Of course, the CX-75 used in the film didn’t have the hybrid powertrain and super cool little jet turbine range extenders seen on the concept but it still looked like it would swallow the DB10 whole if only Bond villains had quite the same talent as our hero.

But at least we got to see Jaguar’s most ambitious car on the move, even if it was some years after the project got canned.

Jaguar CX-75 (Spectre - 2015)

Aston Martin DB2/4 MkIII (Goldfinger - 1964)
Eh? If there’s one thing everyone knows it’s that Bond drives a DB5 in Goldfinger. Except he didn’t. Not at first at least.

Before Goldfinger the film, there was Goldfinger the book, the seventh in the Bond canon to issue from Ian Fleming’s pen. It was ‘a pool car’ that Bond chose in preference to a Jaguar 3.4 and like the film car, was the first to feature additional ‘refinements’.

These included reinforced bumpers for ramming purposes, a radio locator and a long-barreled Colt 45 in a hidden compartment under the driver’s seat. Another fact known to few: as a driving machine the MkIII was far more incisive and involving than the DB5.

Aston Martin DB2/4 MkIII (Goldfinger - 1964)

Alfa Romeo GTV6 (Octopussy - 1983)
Throughout the history of Bond, no nation has been more under-represented relative to its contribution to automotive history than Italy. There’s the F355 in Goldeneye, but apparently that can’t even get away from an Aston DB5 30 years its senior, and… raise a glass and praise the heavens for the cameo of the Alfa Romeo GTV6 in Octopussy.

A rubbish film it may have been, but someone on the production crew clearly knew their onions, or at least their V6-powered transaxle Alfas.

Which is why once Jimmy’s nicked it from some poor woman in a telephone box, it spends the rest of its small time on screen doing extravagant skids and sounding wonderful on roads that are supposed to be German but look suspiciously like Oxfordshire.

And they must have liked the GTV6: it doesn’t even get written off in its final scene as it hurtles into a US West German airbase. It’s actually Upper Heyford near Oxford, which now serves as one of the UK’s largest vehicle storage depots.

Alfa Romeo GTV6 (Octopussy - 1983)

Aston Martin DBS (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - 1969)
An understated Aston by Bond standards with no known gimmickry fitted. Appeared in surprisingly few scenes but is remembered today as being the conveyance in which Mrs Tracy Bond breathed her last courtesy of a bullet from the fabulously entitled Irma Bunt.

The DBS had a troubled gestation and was originally intended to have a V8 fitted, but the motor was late, forcing 007 to slum it with the straight-six from the DB6.

The DBS V8 did make production, but not in time for the film. It’s most easily told from the six-pot DBS by having alloy instead of spoked wheels.

Aston Martin DBS (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - 1969)

Mercedes-Benz 600 (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - 1969)
Bet you didn’t know the identity of the Bond villain’s automotive weapon au choix. Well, I can reveal it’s the big Benz limo used not only by Bunt and Blofeld in OHMSS, but by Blofeld again in Diamonds Are Forever and briefly by Kamal Khan in Octopussy.

We should not be surprised: big, austere and menacing, the grosser Benz made perfect transport for bad guys. And they probably enjoyed deploying its potent 300bhp 6.3-litre V8 too, making it more than match for some of the rubbish Bond had to drive from time to time.

Mercedes-Benz 600 (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - 1969)

Rolls-Royce Phantom III (Goldfinger - 1964)
What better car for the plutocratic and apparently Anglophile Auric Goldfinger than the only Rolls-Royce to be powered by a V12 engine until the introduction of the Silver Seraph in 1998?

So massive, what little performance it could derive from even a 7.3-litre V12 was probably not that blunted by so many of its components being made from gold.

When it was tested Autocar UK recorded a 0-60mph time of 16.8sec, less than a second quicker than the magazine recorded for a 1.2-litre Dacia Sandero, a fact only surprising until you learn the Roller weighed 
3,500kg (7700 lb).

Rolls-Royce Phantom III (Goldfinger - 1964)

Ford Mustang Mach 1 (Diamonds Are Forever - 1971)
One of the last proper American muscle cars before emissions legislations throttled even Detroit’s most massive V8s. With a 7.0-litre Super Cobra Jet big block motor breathing through a four barrel Holley carb, the Mach 1 made 375bhp and, far more importantly, a monstrous 450lb ft of torque.

The chase in DaF is short and famous for the ‘Stang’s two-wheeled escape through the width restriction, neatly forgetting the fact the differential would have needed to be welded up to maintain any speed.

Ford Mustang Mach 1 (Diamonds Are Forever - 1971)

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