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In this article, we will discover the most iconic, stylish and expensive cars of James Bond series. With twenty-four James Bond movies released through five decades, Bond has driven his fair share of exotic cars. It all started with the Sunbeam Alpine Series II in Dr No through to the extremely beautiful and exquisite Aston Martin DB10 in SPECTRE, they have become an iconic part of the James Bond series. What are the most memorable and iconic Bond cars of the series, here are my favourites – what are yours? let us know in the comments below.
TOP 10 MOST ICONIC AND STYLISH JAMES BOND CARS
#10 Citroen 2CV (For Your Eyes Only, 1981)
When I was considering the awarding of the tenth spot, I couldn’t decide between the Citroen 2CV or the T-55 Russian Tank (more on that later) but had to include the bright yellow beast from For Your Eyes Only, just for the car chase scene alone. Used by Bond to escape after his Lotus Espirit Turbo is destroyed, it was a beat up, an unreliable old banger but still managed a fast paced and light humoured chase sequence through the steep-sloping Spanish olive groves. The actual car used was fitted with a four-cylinder engine from a GS so that it could keep ahead of the pursuing Peugeot 504.
The car itself isn’t too interesting, it doesn’t have any gadgets nor does it have the style of other cars featured in the list and you wouldn’t see Bond being offered it from Q branch but the chase scene proved very popular. It spawned many commercially successful products such as the Corgi model cars. Citroen made a special James Bond edition of 2CV complete with a large 007 logo and bullet hole stickers.
#9 Sunbeam Alpine Series II (Dr. No, 1962)
No top 10 list would be complete without the inclusion for James Bond’s first car. A modest car by the standards set in later films but a great car none-the-less was the British made Sunbeam Alpine.
James Bond rented the convertible in Jamaica to drive to the mountain apartment of Miss Taro, the principal secretary of Jamaica, who doubled as a spy for villain Dr No. What started out as a leisurely drive with the sun shining, soon turned into a car chase when Bond was pursued by The Three Blind Mice in a hearse. Driving with style, which would become a foundation for future car chases, he avoids them by driving under a crane that is blocking the road. The hearse too tall to fit under the crane, and ends up swerving off the mountain road before being engulfed in a fireball.
With its understated modesty, the iconic chase scene and considering it was James Bond’s first car, it sits rightly in ninth place. The Sunbeam Alpine that was used in the film is rumoured to have been borrowed from a local resident on the Island, to avoid the cost of importing their own.
#8 Lotus Espirit Turbo (For Your Eyes Only, 1981)
When asked to name a James Bond car, the Lotus Espirit Turbo is not usually one associated with the Bond films. Only three of the car manufacturers models have appeared throughout the series but whenever Bond got behind the wheel, the Lotus has often been the highlight of the selection of the film of vehicles.
James Bond drives the copper coloured Espirit Turbo to a ski resort in Cortina located in the North of Italy for For Your Eyes Only. A similar model in white had appeared earlier in the film but was blown up when its Anti-theft self-destruct system was activated in Spain. The iconic image of this beautiful car with James Bond’s skis attached to the roof gets the Lotus into position 8.
#7 BMW 750iL (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997)
The BMW 750iL, a classic, V12 powered flagship model with a design believed to be the last good-looking seven series. Due to the size of the car, it afforded a platform for more gadgets to be installed. For Tomorrow Never Dies, BMW provided the production team with ten cars, two had the sunroof mounted rockets, a wire cutter, a hidden gun compartment behind the airbag and re-inflating tyres.
Security moved to the next level with the BMW and was a world away from just blowing the car up like the Lotus Espirit Turbo. The windows were bulletproof, electrified door handles, gas canisters and the best gadget, James Bond could control the car using his mobile phone. This addition made for a unique car chase through the car park where James Bond drives from the backseat.
With its overstated gadgets and the unique chase scene in the car park, it comes in at number seven in our Top 10 James Bond cars.
#6 Toyota 2000GT Roadster (You Only Live Twice, 1967)
Called the first Japanese supercar, the Toyota 2000GT Roadster was highly praised for being an enjoyable drive. It was a rather suitable choice for James Bonds car in the 1967 release of You Only Live Twice, set in Japan and driven by Bond girl Aki.
With a limited production run of only 300 GTs being made and never released in a convertible model. The convertible model shown in You Only Live Twice was one of only two produced and were made specifically for the film. The production models used in the film weren’t true convertibles, they were just made without roofs and upholstery was added to the back to make it look like a convertible. Due to Sean Connery’s height, he couldn’t fit in a regular 2000GT coupe, so Toyota made a special roadster for the film.
#5 Aston Martin V8 Vantage (The Living Daylights, 1987)
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage was the Bond car selected for The Living Daylights, a return to Britain’s first supercar manufacturer. An iconical stylish design and the last of a generation of Aston Martins based on the original DBS design. The smooth, metallic gun metal finish, elegant curves and the gadgets packed in by Q, make this car a modern classic.
There were two V8 Vantages used in the film, a V8 Volante convertible model which featured at the beginning of the film and later the car is seen being fitted with a hardtop.
Packed with an array of ‘Optional Extras’ by Q branch which included outrigger skis, spikes that deploy from the tires, lasers mounted in the wheel hubs, a rocket afterburner and missiles hidden behind the driving lights. The car chase set in the snowbound mountains of Czechoslovakia is one of the most underrated scenes in the film series. This is one of the classic Bond cars, with an interesting array of gadgets that fit well into the action.
#4 Ford Mustang Mach 1 (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
The Ford Mustang is not only an iconic car from the Bond series but is most widely known for its appearance in the 1968 film, Bullitt starring Steve McQueen which featured a ten-minute car chase around San Francisco’s hilly streets. Its appearance in Diamonds Are Forever was not the first time the car was used in a Bond film, Tilly Masterson drove one through the Swiss Alps in Goldfinger.
Used to James Bond to escape the pursuing Police in a car chase through the streets of Las Vegas. After some impressive manoeuvres, Bond takes a wrong turn into a dead end street, trapped with the Police right behind him, nowhere to turn and his only means of escape a thin alleyway, James Bond drives up a ramp to put the car onto two wheels and drive down the alleyway to escape.
#3 Aston Martin DBS V12 (Casino Royale, 2006)
With the release of the 2006 reboot to the James Bond series, Casino Royale, we saw Bond going back to his driving roots. The story was one of originality and truer to Ian Fleming novels but the film also came with a fresh new James Bond. We saw a move away from some of the ridiculously comical elements of previous films to a darker undertone, a brave move by its acclaimed director Martin Campbell, who previously directed Goldeneye.
The Aston Martin DBS V12 released as a replacement for Aston Martin Vanquish S also featured in the next Bond film, Quantum Of Solace. A departure from the previous gadget laden vehicles used by Bond the Aston Martin was very modest with only a few secret compartments housing James Bond’s gun and a defibrillator. Beautiful on the outside but also just as incredible inside, with the interior of a DBS a blend of carbon fibre, Alcantara leather, wood, stainless steel and aluminium surfaces.
#2 Lotus Espirit Series 1 (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
The Lotus Espirit that featured in The Spy Who Loved Me is often referred to as ‘Wet Nellie’, a tribute to James Bond’s autogyro, Little Nellie from You Only Live Twice. What makes the Lotus special, it can transform into a submarine! The highly armed car can spray cement onto pursuing vehicles to evade capture but its transformation into an amphibious vehicle is where its strength lay.
The mechanical dashboard transforms to reveal the underwater instruments and dials, it has wheel arches that transform into fins for starring underwater and a small periscope on the roof to enable Bond easy navigation at speed underwater. Other weaponry gadgets include a missile launcher, mines, sprayed black dye and torpedoes shot from the front grille.
The Lotus Espirit Series 1 provides the most exciting underwater scene since the 1965 release of Thunderball. In true Bond fashion, the scriptwriters even managed to fit in a joke when Bond exits the sea onto the crowded beach he opens his window to throw out a fish.
#1 Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger, 1964)
The Aston Martin DB5 originally released in 1963, It is a luxury grand tourer and represented an upgrade from the DB4 which it replaced. In his novels, Ian Fleming had placed James Bond in an Aston Martin DB3.
The iconic DB5 is the most famous and easily recognisable car from the James Bond series. It has featured in several Bond films over the year after first appearing in Goldfinger, it went on to appear in Thunderball a year later, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall and Spectre.
Introduced by Q, it became famous for it array of gadgets, however, the initial script for Goldfinger only had the car armed with a smoke screen. The gadgets rapidly increased as crew members began suggesting gadgets to add. It is rumoured that director Guy Hamilton conceived the revolving license plate due to receiving lots of parking tickets. The DB5 was outfitted with machine guns, an oil sprayer, tyre shredders, rotating number plates, a tracking system and an ejector seat.
The same car was used in Thunderball, (BMT 216A), where two rear-facing water cannons were added to aid James Bond’s escape from Colonel Jacques Bouvar’s château.
The famous DB5 reappeared in the 1995 release, Goldeneye, complete with a different number plate (BMT 214A), where it fitted with an Alpine 7817R car radio which doubled as a communication device and printer. A champagne cooler was concealed under the centre arm rest.
The iconic DB5 made an appearance in the 2006 release, Casino Royale where Bond wins the Aston Martin from Alex Dimitrios in a game of poker. Again with a different number plate (Reg: 56526), however, this one featured Bahamian number plates and was left-hand drive whereas previous British versions had been right-hand drive.
The left-hand drive DB5 did not a make reappearance during Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond. Instead, the classic gadget-laded Aston Martin DB5 complete with the original registration BMT 216A returned without explanation in the 2012 release of Skyfall. The car is subsequently destroyed by Raoul Silva, much to James Bond’s fury.
Making a return in the 2015 release, Spectre. The same DB5 returns, where Q is attempting to reconstruct the vehicle. The final scene sees Bond taking delivery of the newly reconstructed car from Q before driving off before Q quips about bringing, “it back in one piece, not bringing back one piece”
The most iconic, stylish, beautiful and recognisable car is truly fitting of its number one spot and remains a firm favourite among James Bond fans.
T-55 Russian Tank (Goldeneye, 1995)
Although I couldn’t justify adding the T-55 into the Top 10, it had to be included in the honourable mentions section just for its sheer bravado. The new Bond on the block, Pierce Brosnan, on the hunt for General Omurov and trying to escape to capture uses the nearest vehicle to aid his escape, a tank!
In a scene from Goldeneye, removed from the previous car chase scenes involving exotic cars, we see Bond driving through the streets of St Petersburg. Without a gadget in sight nor a power slide round a corner the best part of the scene see Bond straightening his tie after the destruction of his pursuers and their city.
AMC Hornet (The Man With the Golden Gun, 1974)
The AMC Hornet featured in the ninth James Bond film, The Man With the Golden Gun, and is best remembered for the jump across the broken bridge, completing a 360-degree twisting corkscrew mid-air, a truly dangerous stunt but stunning nonetheless.
The actual jump across the water was captured in one sequence with seven tests performed in advance. The jump was completed by British stuntman “Bumps” Williard. Unsure how the stunt would go the production crew placed two divers in the water, with emergency vehicles on standby and a crane but they were not needed.
BMW Z8 (The World Is Not Enough, 1999)
The BMW Z8 was a production car produced by German car manufacturer, BMW. It was made after they produced the Z07 concept to celebrate the BMW 507 produced between 1956-1959, which proved popular so a limited production Z8 was made. Following the mistakes made in Goldeneye where the BMW Z3 hardly featured the production crew didn’t want to make the same mistake with the Z8 in The World Is Not Enough.
Although not the gadget platform as previously seen with the BMW 750iL, it nevertheless featured missiles fired from the side grills, all controlled by a steering wheel. Driven by Bond before being destroyed when it was sliced in half by a helicopter equipped with tree-cutting saws in Azerbaijan. This marked the first time Bond expresses concern about Q being upset with destroying the car and equipment.
The number plate featured on the car, V354 FMP, was never registered with the DVLA but has since been registered to another BMW Z8 in the UK.
Leyland Sherpa 240 Deluxe (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
Not strictly a car and far from being stylish and beautiful, the much-abused Sherpa used in The Spy Who Loved Me is still one of my favourite Bond vehicles. Initially driven by the Bond villain Jaws and supposedly owned by an Egyptian telephone company, the Leyland Sherpa was used by Bond as he tried to escape that indestructible villain with the steel teeth.
Rammed into brick walls and with various panels ripped off at the monstrous hands of Jaws, it finally helped Bond escape danger – only to eventually overheat and die in the middle of the desert.
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