James Bond’s best cars

James Bond is synonymous with many things: spies, gadgets, sleek watches, dangerous women, and of course, awesome cars. Some could even argue that the movie cars are as iconic as the actors who played Bond. Here are our favorite Bond cars through the years:

Sunbeam Alpine 

Sunbeam Alpine
Sunbeam Alpine

James Bond’s relationship with awesome cars started in 1962 with the first Bond movie, “Dr. No.” In the film, Bond drives a Sunbeam Alpine, a two-door British convertible perfect for the movie’s Jamaican locale. Bond drove the Alpine across the island to meet up with Miss Taro, a spy working for the villain Dr. No. On the way to her mountainside residence, Bond was chased by Dr. No’s goons, who were unable to catch the crafty British spy. The Alpine didn’t have the gadgets of later Bond cars, but it did help establish an essential part of his style and brand.

Aston Martin DB5

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While the Aston Martin DB5 may not be the first Bond car, it’s one of the most classic. It was featured initially in 1964’s “Goldfinger,” and again in 1965’s “Thunderball,” with later Aston Martin cameos in “GoldenEye” (1995), “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997), “Casino Royale” (2006), “Skyfall” (2012), and “Spectre” (2015). The DB5 in “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball” was famously outfitted with machine guns to fight back, tire shredders and an oil sprayer to lose pursuers, rotating license plates to help Bond stay incognito, and an ejection seat used to remove a passenger who held 007 at gunpoint.

The Aston Martin DB5 was not initially provided to the production for “Goldfinger” as part of a product placement deal, and apparently the company was even reluctant to loan one out. However, once Aston Martin saw how much publicity they got from the movie, they quickly moved to align themselves with the franchise, and Aston Martins became a frequent feature in Bond films.

AMC Hornet

1974 AMC Hornet X on display at the National Motor Museum in England
1974 AMC Hornet on display at the National Motor Museum in England

The AMC Hornet may not be as glamorous as the other cars on this list, but it still played a big role in one of the franchise’s biggest stunts in 1974’s “The Man With the Golden Gun.” Bond and his indignant American passenger need to to cross a river, but the nearest bridge is two miles away. Bond spots a broken and twisted bridge, and to the surprise of his passenger, decides to jump the river. The bridge causes the car to do a full barrel roll, landing perfectly on its wheels on the other side. Amazingly, the car actually performed the stunt with no special effects, and the production team managed to do it in one take.

Lotus Esprit S1

Lotus Espirit S1
Lotus Espirit S1

The Lotus Esprit S1 was one of the most iconic British sports cars of the 70’s and 80’s, so it makes sense that it would be featured in a James Bond film. In fact, the Lotus Esprit was almost too good of a car for the movies; it had so much grip in the corners due to its mid-engine layout that the stunt drivers had a hard time making it actually look fast on the screen. Eventually, the producer resorted to using a Lotus engineer who was very familiar with the car as the exclusive stunt driver for 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

The Lotus Esprit S1 that was featured in the film took part in one of the most memorable chases in the franchise, where the car drove off a pier and into the ocean while outrunning the bad guys in a helicopter. Once in the water, the Esprit converted into a submarine and escaped by launching a surface-to-air missile from underwater. The functioning submersible Esprit used for the underwater shots was actually created from an Esprit shell, and had room for two divers in scuba gear to operate. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, bought the Lotus submarine back in 2013 with plans (now sadly foiled) to make it a fully functioning amphibious car-sub.

Mercury Cougar XR-7

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While “Her Majesty’s Secret Service” featured a Aston Martin DBS convertible, the real car star of the movie was the 1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7. Bond, with his future wife Tracy di Vincenzo at the wheel, races down a ski slope in the Swiss Alps while pursued by Bloefeld’s henchmen in Mercedes-Benzes. The American muscle car shows off some glorious drifts in the snow and eventually ends up losing the bad guys with no help from any Q-developed gadgets, only pure driving ability on the part of Tracy.

Aston Martin DBS V12

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The Aston Martin DBS became the modern Aston of choice for Bond in the new millennium, appearing in both “Casino Royale” (2006) and “Quantum of Solace” (2008). These cars were not full of gadgets, but still made an impact in awesome chase scenes. In “Casino Royale,” Bond swerves to avoid his romantic interest who has been bound up and laid in the middle of the road, flipping the car a world record-beating seven times before it comes to rest. In “Quantum of Solace,” Bond drives the DBS V12 on a crazy chase through Italy, around a lake and into a quarry, heavily damaging the car before it came to an end.

BMW Z8

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Continuing a partnership with BMW that started with 1995’s “Goldeneye,” 1999’s “The World is Not Enough” featured the striking new BMW Z8. The BMW Z8 roadster was a beautiful addition to the movies, featuring a 4.9 liter V8 that put out almost 400 horsepower. Bond’s Z8 featured missiles that could be aimed from a steering wheel-mounted television display, as well as a heads-up display, titanium armor, and most importantly, six cup holders. However, the titanium armor didn’t help the Z8 fend off the giant saw blade, slung below a helicopter, which cut the car in half.

Aston Martin DB10

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For the latest Bond film, “Spectre” (2015), Aston Martin built a custom, one-off DB10. The car was created in homage to the company and the Bond franchise’s shared history, and is featured in an epic chase. The DB10 boasted rear-facing guns and a flamethrower, as well as an ejection seat. Although the car was built for another agent, Bond takes the DB10 to Rome where he gets into a car chase. Before crashing into a river, Bond ejects and of course, parachutes to safety.

Photos by: Thomas’s Pics (1, 4), Michel Curi, Henry Burrows, Karen Roe (5, 8, 11, 12) , sv1ambo, David Merrett, Peter Black (9, 10), KeithJustKeith, Automobile Italia

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