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The greatest James Bond cars

Graham Hope

06 Sep 2020

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With a trailer for the new James Bond film No Time To Die released this week, appetites have been well and truly whetted for the movie, which is due to – finally – arrive on screen on 12 November. As expected, there was much to savour for car fans in the two-and-a-half-minute clip, with a healthy selection of Aston Martins – including a gadget-festooned DB5, a Valhalla and a DBS Superleggera – plus some airborne Land Rover Defenders. Rather improbably, there was also an old Maserati Quattroporte in a dramatic bridge sequence which opened the trailer.

Over the course of the 24 Bond movies to date there have been some truly iconic cars that have lit up the screen, and the arrival of number 25 will inevitably reignite the debate about the greatest. It’s an easy and enjoyable way to while away a few hours drawing up a list of favourites. But what if the parameters are tighter: five cars only, and no brand represented more than once? Then the choice becomes much tougher. That was the task we set ourselves and after a hefty session on the DVDs that would have exhausted even Bond superfan Alan Partridge, here’s what we came up with…

5. BMW Z8, The World Is Not Enough

Pierce Brosnan’s third outing as Bond is not one that is remembered terribly fondly and The World Is Not Enough, a dull tale that revolves around the assassination of a billionaire oil tycoon, generally features towards the wrong end of any countdowns that rank the Bond films from best to worst. But the Z8 was an inspired choice. A chic but muscular design ensured the roadster was fitting transport for the sharp-suited 007 and unquestionably more suitable than BMW’s previous contributions to the franchise, the underwhelming Z3 in GoldenEye and the rather dull 7 Series in Tomorrow Never Dies. Plus, great gadgets included titanium armour and ground-to-air missiles behind the side air intakes. A Bond classic, even allowing for the fact that its screentime in the movie itself is limited.

4. Jaguar C-X75, Spectre

The story of the C-X75 is almost as compelling as a Bond script, earning it a worthy place here. Hailed by its maker as ‘the most advanced Jaguar ever created’, the 800bhp-plus plug-in hybrid supercar was unveiled in 2010 and had progressed to working prototype by 2012, before the decision was made not to proceed to production and it disappeared from view, presumably forever. So, its appearance in Daniel Craig’s fourth Bond, Spectre, in 2015 was both a surprise and a delight. Five models were made specifically for the movie, all featuring a 485bhp V8 from the Range Rover SVR, and the burnt orange paintjob suited it perfectly. Villain Mr Hinx’ chase of Bond’s Aston DB10 in the C-X75 around the streets of Rome is one of Spectre’s highlights, and it’s hard not watch the film and think ruefully of what might have been.

3. Toyota 2000GT, You Only Live Twice

While the C-X75 is one of the rarest models ever to feature in a Bond film, rarer still is the Toyota 2000GT that appeared with Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice. A bona fide beauty, the 2000GT was sold as a coupe but because of Connery’s height, he struggled to fit in and so two convertible versions were created – the only two 2000GT drop-tops that ever saw the light of day. The legend goes that the cars were put together in only a couple of weeks, but the results were stunning and the white, front-engined rear-wheel-drive two- seater certainly looked the part in the movie, where it was driven by Bond’s girlfriend Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), most memorably in a dramatic rescue scene where it ended up in the sea. One of the 2000GTs now has pride of place in the Toyota Museum in Japan.

2. Lotus Esprit S1, The Spy Who Loved Me

While the Esprit would struggle to find many backers as the definitive Bond motor, due to the ongoing popularity of a certain Aston Martin, it did feature in arguably the most memorable car scene in the entire series in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. In many ways, its conversion to a submarine and emergence from the sea on to a beach perfectly summed up the whole Roger Moore era as Bond – faintly ridiculous, but impossible to dislike. The Giorgetto Giugiaro-penned design of the white wedge-shaped sports car was very much of its era, and its iconic status attracted one very high-profile fan in the shape of Tesla overlord Elon Musk, who bought the car when it was put up for auction in 2013 for a sum just shy of $1million.

1. Aston Martin DB5, Goldfinger

Our final choice couldn’t have been anything else, could it? Arguably the quintessential Bond car was driven by, for many, the quintessential Bond – Sean Connery – in the quintessential Bond movie, Goldfinger. Its importance to the series is evidence by the fact that after Goldfinger, it appeared in six further Bond movies, and will also star in No Time To Die – a timely appearance given that Aston has 25 Goldfinger Continuation Models to sell for a cool £3.3 million. This reimagining of the Bond car includes replica gadgets such as the classic rotating number plate, front and rear battering rams, simulated tyre slashers and an oil spray system that deploys from behind the tail-lights. Even an ejector seat is available, although clearly the car isn’t road legal. That the mystique about the luxury GT lives on 55 years after the movie’s release is testament to its status as the ultimate Bond car.

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