Everybody blathers on about James Bond’s ‘license to kill’, but nobody ever talks about his equally-crucial ‘license to drive’.
Bond has steered some of the greatest cars in cinema history over the past fifty years, and his iconic, gadget-laden motors have saved the day on more than one occasion.
To pay homage, we've ranked five of the very best…
1. FORD MUSTANG MACH 1
As seen in: Diamond Are Forever
Racing down the neon-drenched Las Vegas strip, an ageing, thoroughly bored Sean Connery is being tailed by a determined team of cop cars. He swerves in and out of traffic, climbs onto busy sidewalks and artfully evades capture until – oh no! – he absentmindedly drives into a back street signposted 'DEAD END'.
What's Bond to do? Break the laws of gravity, of course! He slides the car onto one side and casually squeezes through a tiny walkway (incomprehensibly emerging from the other side on the opposite pair of wheels).
The bamboozled policemen try to pull off the same trick, leaving their wheels in the sky and hopes of catching Bond in tatters.
2. BMW 750IL
As seen in: Tomorrow Never Dies
Bond's Brylcreemed stunt men managed to trash 15 BMW 750is in the filming of Tomorrow Never Dies, which might have been something to do with how big it was compared to 007’s previous motors.
You see, Brosnan needed the extra space for all of his high-tech party tricks, including: sunroof rocket launchers, tear gas, a cable cutter, a caltrops dispenser and electrified door handles. He could even drive it from the backseat, a completely pointless feature that obviously becomes pivotal to the plot, and control it using the touchpad of his bulky Ericsson JB988 mobile.
3. MERCURY COUGAR XR-7
As seen in: On Her Majesty's Secret Service
It didn’t have any gadgets, and 007 didn’t even drive it (George Lazy-nby more like). So what right does the lipstick red ‘Cougar’ have to this respectable mid-table position?
Simple: it was expertly handled by Bond’s one and only true love, Contessa Teresa Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) in one of the series’ most daring and spectacular car chases. With skis mounted to the car's trunk, 007’s future wife power slides away from Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s slipping henchmen on a snow-walled stockcar racing track (which was specially built by flooding a flat field). When brainy boosters are in short supply, breathtaking stunts will prevail.
4. LOTUS ESPRIT S1
As seen in: The Spy Who Loves Me
By the 1970s, traditionally curvy sports cars were undergoing sharp, futuristic redesigns. These new wedge shaped shells, specifically the radical Lotus Espirit S1, gave The Spy Who Loved Me production designer Ken Adam an idea.
"I thought its shape could make it a believable submarine," he said in the book 'The Art of Bond'. "An American submarine company built it for me. And it travelled underwater — it was not pressurised but it could do 7 knots underwater. Stunt divers with oxygen tanks operated it and we also had it as a model."
It resulted in one of 007’s greatest ever car chases, racing along the Sardinian hillside away from armed helicopters, gun-toting motorcyclists and a sinister Sedan. As Roger Moore serenely steers the S1 into the ocean, he asks a terrified Barbara Bach: “Can you swim?”, but she doesn't need to! She doesn't need to.
5. ASTON MARTIN DB5
As seen in: Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall
The Esquire office is solely inhabited by sacred cow-mincing mavericks, but even we couldn’t leave the DB5 off top spot. It wasn’t Bond’s first car – that honour goes to the Sunbeam Alpine coupé – but it’s certainly his favourite, appearing in six movies under three different actors over fifty gas-guzzling years.
It’s played host to a number of gadgets in that time, including wheel slashers, front wing machine guns and, specially for Pierce Brosnan (AKA the only Bond you could imagine seeing in Mahiki on a Tuesday afternoon), an arm-rest champagne cooler. They also predicted modern GPS with a dashboard map feature, but even without these elaborate contraptions, the DB5 is a work of art.
Amazingly, considering the big-money endorsement deal that came soon after Bond’s big screen debut, the team behind Dr. No struggled to convince Aston Martin to loan them a prototype model. Needless to say they don’t have that problem anymore. One of the cars used in the early movies sold last year for a whopping $4.6 million.
From: Esquire UK