I’m a massive Bond fan and have been since I had to use a child’s car booster seat. Despite watching them all at least 15 times with my father, I still enjoy the oldies and all the nostalgia it evokes from my childhood. In the eyes of girls, James Bond is a smooth and suave operator, with his good looks, charm and ability to sweep a girl off her feet. Being a chap, however, Bond evokes images of guns, cool cars and even cooler gadgets to me. Q demonstrating his latest gadgets were always the best moments in the films for me, especially the cars.
Somewhere in my attic, collecting dust is a battered white Lotus Esprit, complete with its submarine fins but missing the plastic anti-aircraft missiles it was capable of firing from the engine cover. When Bond performed the groundbreaking spiral jump in a 74 Hornet X in The Man With A Golden Gun, I thought it was just about the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life – and this was at a time I was massively into The Dukes Of Hazzard. I could go on and on, but I’ll save the cars and gadgets for the article, so grab on tight and take a ride with me through the history of Bond’s amazing cars and their gadgets.
Aston Martin DB5
In Bond’s first movie, Dr. No (1962), he drove a Sunbeam Alpine, but the use of cool cars and gadgetry wasn’t introduced until Goldfinger (1964). This is when the infamous Aston Martin made its debut appearance. 007’s Q-prepared DB5 featured radar, machine guns, smoke screens, a bulletproof windscreen, a rear oil dispenser, spinning tyre-slashing hubcaps, a revolving license plate, and the memorable ejector passenger seat. The DB5 also made an appearance in Thunderball (1965), with the addition of rear water cannons. This iconic car even appeared nearly 5 decades later in Skyfall (2012), however it finally met its demise in a climatic battle scene.
In Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Bond hotwires a moon buggy that has robotic arms – it was actually inspired by NASA’s vehicle. Bond uses the arms to hit a guard and then smash through a wall to escape and evade capture.
Bond didn’t drive this ultra-cool Pimpmobile in Live and Let Die(1973), but it did feature a pretty nifty gadget. Kananga’s henchmen in New York customised it so poisoned darts could be fired from its wing mirror, its dashboard featuring a targeting screen. The coupe is a Corvette with 1972 Cadillac Eldorado panels, and they called it the ‘Corvorado’.
From the outside, this flying car featured in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) came across as more of a conversion with add-ons, but they were jet attachments, and the dash did convert into a avionic panel with all the cool dials, so I think it definitely passes as a gadget car.
On to my favourite, the Lotus submarine car, every little boy’s dream – a car that could simply drive into water and transform into a fully functional, weapon-festooned submarine. Not only was a white Esprit a very sexy car for the time, but this technological triumph was also a first in film. Once under water, the Lotus revealed its arsenal: Torpedoes, missiles, machine guns, harpoons and a cement blaster – effectively an underwater smoke screen. It even featured a periscope, making this a truly iconic Bond car.
The Lotus Esprit (a different version) also featured in For Your Eyes Only (1981) and came equipped with an explosive anti-theft device – I wonder if he achieved a cheaper insurance quote?
Bond drove this muscle-bound beast in The Living Daylights (1987). Like the Lotus, Q equipped it with an explosive device, but felt Bond deserved a few more gadgets this time around. From the front of the car, Bond could fire missiles, whilst the rear housed a rocket jet system to propel it along on the snow, using retractable skis for stability. If that wasn’t enough ammo, the wheel’s hubcaps could also deploy lasers.
Q selecting a German car for Bond? I suppose they are efficient, but still. In Golden Eye (1995), Q fits the legendary ejector seat again, and the remaining gadgets are familiar ones: self-destruct, missiles, radar, the only new addition a parachute braking system. Although Q put in a lot of effort, none of the gadgets were ever used in the film… weird.
Still sticking wiz zi Germans, Q reveals he still has a few new tricks up his sleeve. In Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Bond’s Beemer features self-inflating tyres, mini-missiles fired from the sunroof, tear gas, high voltage security handles, a metal spike guns from the rear, and a cutter hidden by the hood badge. It can also be driven via remote control, showing Q has upped his game – what’s to follow in the next film?
Oh, it’s another BMW. Although this is a really cool package, it only featured three gadgets. In The World Is Not Enough (2002), Bond had the use of surface to air missiles, which fired from the side vents, a brilliant remote control system operated via his car key, and even though it was a convertible, Q felt the need to use titanium armour plating.
Back to British with the gorgeous Vanquish. Like the DB5, it has an ejector passenger seat and machine guns, however, 38 years on and featured in Die Another Day (2002), the Aston sees a whole new list of gadgetry: spiked traction tyres, front facing missiles from the grill, grenades, target-seeking shotguns on the bonnet, and amazing chameleon-camouflage invisibility technology.
Bond had the use of yet another beautiful Aston Martin in Casino Royale (2006), and what a stunner this V12 beast is. Although it only featured two gadgets, one being the standard bulletproof windshield, it did feature a unique trick, the emergency first aid kit. This anti-poison and portable defibrillator saved Bond’s life when he was poisoned during a high-stakes poker game.
Then: 1930 Bentley 4.5L Supercharged by Amherst Villiers
I’m also a fan of the Ian Fleming novels, Bond’s creator. In these great books Bond drives a few Bentleys, the best his supercharged convertible coupé. It was battle-ship grey and Bond referred to it as ‘The Locomotive’. Although there were no gadgets to speak of, apart from a hiding place for a rifle, it seems Bond will once more take the wheel of a Q-prepped Bentley. One of my favourite crime writers, Jeffery Deaver (pictured with the car), has written a new Bond thriller entitled, Carte Blanche. To place Bond firmly in the 21st century, his Bentley Continental will feature a device called the iQphone, which also uses espionage apps – I want one of these almost as much as Bond’s Lotus Esprit!
Well, there you have it, all the coolest cars ever featured in the Bond movies, and although there were many more great cars and stunts, these were the ones that were more deadly than meets the eye – in fact, you could say Bond’s cars also had a license to kill.