When one thinks of James Bond cars, Aston Martins are probably what come to mind. That’s understandable, since not only are those lovely, hand-made automobiles among the most beautiful cars he (or anyone) has ever driven, they’ve also made the most appearances in Bond films, starring in half of the 24 Bond movies released to date.
If you think that Bond’s affinity for the storied British marque might be waning in this modern, eco-conscious age, know that no fewer than four Astons are slated to appear in the soon-to-be-released “No Time to Die”. Who could fault him for such exquisite automotive taste? Renowned as he is for his ability to accessorize, Bond knows he can’t just show up to the gun fight—or car chase, as it were—in any old car.
Oh, but he has. There are 12 Bond films in which Agent 007 was not driving Aston Martins, and AutomotiveMap has put a list together of some of the more interesting Bond cars that weren’t Astons here.
Sunbeam Tiger — ‘Dr. No’ (1962)
The first official James Bond car was a little blue roadster from Britain (of course) called the Sunbeam Alpine (an ironic name, given that the Alps are nowhere near Britain). But the Alpine’s Bond car chase debut took place in a mountain setting on roads that we surmise must have been mostly downhill, as the Alpine’s puny four-banger would have rendered it no match for the gutsy Cadillac hearse giving chase on an upward slope. In the end, size, not power, is how the Alpine saved Bond, played by Sean Connery, as the nimble and diminutive Alpine darted under a construction vehicle that blocked the road while the hearse full of bad guys wound up tumbling down the mountain-side in a fiery crash.
1935 Bentley 3.5 Litre Drophead Coupe Park Ward — ‘From Russia With Love’ (1964)
The second Bond Film, “From Russia with Love“, features Bond in a scene by his presumed personal car, one that’s more consistent with Ian Fleming’s Bond character as depicted in his novels. It’s another British ragtop, incidentally—an elegant green Bentley 3.5-litre Drophead Coupe Park Ward, which would have been nearly 30 years old at the time the film came out. We never actually see Sean Connery drive the thing, but we do see him use its nifty and rather ahead-of-its-time onboard telephone, complete with a long, curly cord.
Toyota 2000GT Convertible – ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967)
Two icons met in the Far East when Sean Connery drove a stunning 1967 Toyota 2000GT convertible—one of only two 2000GT convertibles ever built—in 1967’s “You Only Live Twice”, the fifth of the James Bond film and the first to be set in Japan. It looked faster than it was. The 2000GT convertible was one of the only rides to ever appear in the James Bond movies that could hold a poison-dart-deploying-candle to the Aston Martin DB5 that he drove in his two prior films.
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 — ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, 1971
The Malaise Era was upon us as when “Diamonds Are Forever” came out in 1971. But James Bond had one of the last fast-ish cars of the moment with a 275-horsepower, 351-cubic-inch V8 that was less powerful that preceding Mustangs but was more powerful than what the cops that chased him and his lovely lady friend around Las Vegas drove. It could also be driven on two wheels (who knew?) at what must have been a side-splitting seating position. Hey, no one said being a Bond girl would be easy.
AMC Hornet — ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ (1974)
In the 1974 Bond Flick, “The Man with the Golden Gun“, Bond (then played by Roger Moore) stooped to a new low by slipping behind the wheel of one of the most unloved models from one of the most unloved carmakers in U.S. History: the AMC Hornet. To his credit, it wasn’t his personal car or anything bestowed upon him by Q; he stole it from an AMC dealer in Bangkok (there was an AMC dealer in Bangkok?) and drove it right through the showroom window. Then Bond whisks through then streets of Bangkok and rescues the girl, but not until after he and the Hornet engage in some impressive aerial acrobatics over a river, likely making it one of the only Hornets of the AMC variety that could actually fly.
BMW Z3 – ‘GoldenEye’ (1995)
Among the memorable aspects of 1995’s “GoldenEye“: Tina Turner’s crooning; Judi Dench first appearing as M; and the now-laughable vision of freshman 007 Pierce Brosnan bounding down a sunny road in a narrow-bodied, four-cylinder, slow-as-dirt BMW Z3. It was perhaps the Bond franchise’s most egregious case of product placement priorities gone awry—it could barely have kept up with a Buick Rendezvous or Chevrolet Lumina minivan at the time. If they performed the trick as badly today, they may as well choose the glamorous Volkswagen Jetta, which casts roughly the same performance footprint. We might have had more respect for the little Z as a credible Bond ride had he actually used its alleged headlight-mounted stinger missiles, parachute braking system, or better yet, its self-destruct system.
BMW 750iL – ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ (1997)
Having learned, perhaps, that 138 horsepower is woefully inadequate for someone with James Bond’s velocity (and dignity) requirements, BMW supplied Britain’s most famous secret agent with a car boasting twice the mass, three times as many cylinders, 236 percent more horsepower, and about 10 times more masculinity than the wimpy Z3 he drove in the previous flick. No wonder he had two Bond girls this time around. While a V12-powered 7-Series is no 1930s-vintage Bentley Mark IV—Bond’s favorite, if mythical, saloon—according to the BMW product placement agreement, it would have to do.
BMW Z8 – ‘The World is Not Enough’ (1999)
It only took three films, but BMW finally gave James Bond a suitably flattering ride in the form of the stunning, then-new Z8 roadster in 1999’s “The World is Not Enough”. Of course, Denise Richards also appeared in the movie, and frankly, we’d rather have seen Richards get sawed in half rather than the Z8. Oh well, the M5-based sports car was fast while it lasted and is still Bond-girl beautiful today.
1957 Ford Fairlane Skyliner — ‘Goldeneye’ (1995)
In 1957, the Ford Fairlane Skyliner’s nifty retractable hardtop would be a Bond-worthy device in and of itself. By the time the land yacht appeared in Goldeye 40 years later (in a rather unpleasant white-and-brown color combo, no less) the novelty of its top had worn off, so when Bond picked it up upon landing in Havana, he took a leisurely top-down drive to his hotel in the Fairlane and it was never seen again. This trailer doesn’t show off the Fairlane but it a sweet red Ferrari F355 GTS and the aforementioned BMW Z3 do make an appearance.
Lotus Esprit S1 – ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977)
You didn’t have to see “The Spy Who Loved Me“ to guess the second-most-famous James Bond car of all time (after the Aston Martin DB5 from “Goldfinger”, of course): the white Lotus Esprit cum submarine that Roger Moore as 007 drove alongside and then into the coastal waters of Sardinia. Once submerged, it could spew smoke like an octopus ink and unleash depth charges. Back on land, with its 160-horsepower four-cylinder engine it wouldn’t be able to outrun an expertly driven Caprice Classic, requiring as it did nearly 10 seconds to hit 60 miles per hour—probably longer considering the weight of all that waterproofing gobbledygook. Subsequent Esprit Turbo models would cut that time nearly in half, which Bond would find out for himself four years later in “For Your Eyes Only“.
Lotus Esprit S1/Turbo — ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (1981)
Photo by Getty Images
As we were saying in our previous discussion, Mr. Bond’s little Lotus got a much bit of a power upgrade in 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only”, with a fat turbocharger making the Esprit Turbo one of the quicker cars of its day. Q Branch may have blown its gizmo wad on the Esprit submarine in “The Spy Who Loved Me“, as Bond’s new Turbos were enhanced by nothing more than a self-destruct system, which as one can see with his first one, doesn’t seem like much of an enhancement in the end. But what it and its bronze-colored replacement lacked in special upgrades they made up in looks, with their 3-three-piece BBS wheels, body kits designed by famed Italian design house Giugiaro, side stripes, white-letter tires, rear window louvers, and for the bronze one, skis strapped to the back. Thankfully, the second Esprit Turbo would survive to drive another day, albeit with a different special agent, as the Esprit Turbo has never been seen in a Bond film since.
1981 Citroën 2CV 6— ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (1981)
While an Esprit Turbo was the official Bond car of 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only”, an adorable yellow Citroën 2CV 6 stole the show in a chase scene in which it hustles and bustles, forward and backward, rolling on its head, gets rolled back over on its wheels by passersby, tumbles down a mountain, drives through thickets, and ultimately goes airborne, bouncing off the roof of a Peugeot as Bond and his lady friend evade the evil henchmen.
1985 Chevrolet Corvette C4 — ‘A View to a Kill’ (1981)
Photo courtesy of Eon Productions
1985’s Bond film “A View to Kill” had everything we love in life. Grace Jones, Christopher Walken as the bad guy, a blimp, fire engines jumping a drawbridge, and a Corvette. All new and radically different for 1984 with its larger, more geometric body, a digital dashboard and targa top, the “C4” ‘Vette still had its share of skeptics, so its appearance in “A View to a Kill“ gave it a bit more street cred. The way things are going between Double-O and Aston Martin, we’re unlikely to see one of the all-new, mid-engine “C8” ‘Vettes in any future Bond film unless it’s driven by a villain.
Leyland Mini Moke — ‘You Only Live Twice’, ‘Live and Let Die’, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, ‘Moonraker’
Photo courtesy of Eon Productions
Surprising fact: No car that wasn’t an Aston Martin has been used in more Bond movies than the diminutive Mini Moke. Huh? That’s right, the little Leyland runabout has appeared in “You Only Live Twice”, “Live and Let Die”, “The Spy Who Loved Me”, and “Moonraker”.