Cars

The Bond cars that leave us shaken and stirred

By Jonathan Bell
04-02-21

3 minute read

Future historians of the Bond Age will look back favourably on the Daniel Craig era.

Over five films, the franchise received a substantial re-boot, not least in Craig’s characterisation of the agent as unpredictable and blunt-edged, rather than the smooth, wise-cracking roué epitomised by Moore and Brosnan. Yet, despite the updated sexual politics and self-deprecating, downbeat endings, one thing has remained constant in Bond’s world – the agent’s love for all things automotive. Which is all the excuse we need to present five of 007’s most memorable rides. 

The Bond garage runs from the spectacular to the prosaic, with impressive chase sequences being undertaken in the humble Citroen 2CV (For Your Eyes Only) and the long-forgotten Renault 11 (A View to a Kill). While, happily for long-standing fans, No Time to Die promises a return to the series’ greatest partnership of all, the association with Aston Martin – the film is set to feature no less than four models by the British manufacturer. And so, our definitive top five Bond cars list has to begin with the most fondly remembered of all… 

1. Aston Martin DB5

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Top: Sean Connery and the Aston Martin DB5; photography by Moviepix/Getty images. Above: Photography by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

1. Aston Martin DB5

When the Aston Martin DB5 made its debut in Thunderball in 1965, the story goes that the studio was encouraged to buy its own cars – the factory wasn’t convinced it was a good enough investment. In the end, the two cars used for filming – one for driving, the other with the famous suite of gadgets installed – were loaned, but such was the success of the film that EON Productions promptly ordered two more DB5s as promotional cars, complete with working gadgets. One of the four was stolen, the other three survive – one sold for $6.4 million in 2019. 

Summer 2020 marked the return of DB5 production to Aston Martin’s Newport Pagnell factory for the first time in 55 years. And these are not just any old DB5. The DB5 Goldfinger Continuation cars are billed as the ‘world’s ultimate film collectable’, an edition of 25 that have been developed by Aston Martin in collaboration with EON Productions. The coup de grâce is the suite of very non-standard extras, co-developed by the films’ special effects expert Chris Corbould and designed to be fully functional (albeit non-lethal). And as luck has it, Lymited has one for your perusal… 

 

2. Lotus Esprit S1

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Photography by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

2. Lotus Esprit S1

The marque with the strongest claim to second place is Lotus. Perhaps it was for budgetary reasons, but in the cash-strapped ’70s, Bond eschewed the muscular charms of an Aston Martin for the lithe, lightweight and incredibly low-slung Lotus Esprit. Making its debut in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), the angular white dart features in one of the series’ finest chase sequences (with Lotus’s own engineer behind the wheel), at the end of which it morphs into a submarine. Bond cars never again reached such heights (or depths) of sophistication. Original Esprits are climbing in value, although the later model Esprit Turbos (as seen on the slopes in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only) are still the driver’s choice. 

3. Aston Martin DB10

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Photography by Shutterstock

3. Aston Martin DB10

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Bond returned to Aston Martin, driving the Vantage, V12 Vanquish and DBS (the first car of the Craig era). When it came to casting 2015’s Spectre, director Sam Mendes was given the run of the company’s design studio, choosing a sketch design study for the second-generation Vantage – which meant Aston Martin then had to build it. The first ever bespoke Bond car was rapidly developed, with 10 units hand-built exclusively for the film. Eight cars were used in the punchy Rome driving sequences, while two survived as fully finished promo cars. One was sold in 2016 for £2.4 million.

4. Sunbeam Alpine

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Photography by Alamy

4. Sunbeam Alpine

The honour of being the first Bond car on film goes to the Sunbeam Alpine, a modest but undeniably pretty British sports car, built from the mid-’50s through to the late ‘60s. The story goes that the Alpine was the only suitable sports car the production team could find on location in Jamaica – it had to be borrowed from a resident for filming.

5. Toyota 2000 GT

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Photography by Shutterstock

5. Toyota 2000 GT

Another oddity, the 1967 Toyota 2000 GT nevertheless deserves a place on this list for its rarity and the very Bond-related modifications that were required. The model was the Japanese manufacturer’s first attempt at a European-style sports car, and while it received huge acclaim, only 351 were built. For You Only Live Twice (1967), the producers ordered two open-topped examples of the car; not only were they better suited to filming, but Sean Connery was said to be too tall for the hard-topped original.


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