PH Service History: Real-life Bond cars

Nic's piece on Wednesday introducing the new Lego Aston DB5 - which, to my eyes, looks more like the later DBS from Casino Royale after it had been rolled - set me thinking about real-life Bond cars. Not that, as far as I know, James Bond was real, but you know what I mean.

Ian Fleming was interested in motoring but didn't seem to be especially knowledgeable, and the cars he chose for Bond in the books were in some respects a little odd. For example, our sexy superhero owned a supercharged 4.5-litre Bentley, a 1930s car in a 1950s world - heavy, outdated and unloved. He owned a Bentley Mark VI with an open touring body, a surprisingly lumbering choice for a spy you'd suppose to be in a perpetual hurry; and rather confusingly he drove an Aston Martin that Fleming calls the DB 111. He was actually referring to the DB Mark 111, the third iteration of the DB 2/4 series, and a car not to be confused with the DB3, a racing model designed specifically for the track.

He also owned an even more peculiar beast with more than a whiff of the Category D about it, a damaged and rebuilt Mark II Continental, fitted with an upgraded 4.9-litre engine, an R-type chassis and a 13:40 back-axle ratio, all clothed in a bespoke and rather clumsy-sounding Mulliner convertible body. Worse, in OHMSS it gained an Arnott supercharger controlled by a magnetic clutch.

But what did Fleming know anyway? Tinsel-town had other ideas.

Technically, the first car Bond drove in a film was a Chevrolet Bel-Air convertible, but for all die-hard fans it's the Sunbeam Alpine that was really the first. 007 hired the car to take him to a tryst in the mountains. It was a 1962 Series ll model, with optional wire-spoked wheels and whitewall tyres. If you want similar you could pluck this later one from our classifieds for a mere £17,500.

The most famous Bond car is of course the gadget-laden DB5, probably the most recognisable car in cinematic history. If you want to attract Pussy Galore this is the one in which to do it. Its Superleggera body looked almost as good as Sean Connery, of course, and that's only part of the reason you'll need around £650,000 to buy one now. Don't fret if you can't afford one, though - many of those who have driven the DB5 think it a lumpen old Hector.

If you want an Aston for less you could try the original DBS that appeared in OHMSS. Some thought it slow, wooden and plodding, and some said the same of George Lazenby too. Don't rule out the inline six model, though - it wasn't quick, but it was sweet. This one, spied in our classifieds, is a whisker under £100k, but hurry; prices are on the up, so you might not have all the time in the world.

Astons and Bond are of course a recurring theme throughout the later films too, just as Bentleys were in the books, but if you fancy something more lightweight, what about the Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me? Lower than a packet of crisps and wider than Roger Moore's flares, the utterly breathtaking mid-engined Esprit was the work of the great Giugiaro - nobody does it better. We found this well-kept one up for £70k in our classifieds. Be warned, though, it's probably useless underwater.

Want something cheaper? Try a Triumph Stag. This gem had a brief role in Diamonds are Forever in 1971, commandeered by Jimbo for a quick under cover trip to Holland, via hovercraft. This one's on sale in our classifieds for £10,000. The Stag's reputation for reliability was not the jewel in its crown, it has to be said, and in the end it cost Triumph dear. Our super-spy could get stuck in a rut in one of these.

Cheaper still (and probably more reliable) would be an example of the dainty BMW Z3 that made a brief appearance in Goldeneye. Some thought the US-built Z3 short of sparkle - or was that Pierce Brosnan? - but you can have this one, with the 2.8-litre straight-six, for less than £4k.

Daniel Craig's first outing as Bond in Casino Royale was a triumph of product placement: Fords of all hues and wearing all badges featured prominently in both foreground and background. In one scene JB rocks up outside his Bahamas hotel in a prototype of the 2007 Mondeo. This 2.5T version is not cheap at over £6k, but it's probably worth a gamble, and it packs 217hp tightly under its muscular bonnet in much the same way as Craig packed his tackle in his budgie-smugglers in one particular scene.

Keeping with Ford, you could try a Mustang Mach 1, also from Diamonds Are Forever. Okay, again, this is not Commander Bond's car, but one that features prominently in this overly drawn-out adventure; it's also actually the third Mustang to feature in the Bond movie franchise, fact lovers. The Mach 1 had a 7.0-litre V8 and made 375hp, though, and this honey looks like it could be a bit of a hoot.

So there you are, plenty to get your teeth into, unless of course your teeth are like Jaws', in which case I suggest you spend your money on an orthodontist instead. And if you can't afford to live out any of your fantasies with the cars listed above, there's always that Lego DB5...

Mark Pearson




P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (0) Make a comment