License to Thrill: Top 10 Killer James Bond Cars
October 5 is Global James Bond Day, in honor of the release date of Dr. No, the first James Bond movie in theaters. Bond has great taste in suits, cocktails, and, let’s say companions, but especially in cars. Here are the ten coolest cars from the James Bond movies.
10. 1974 AMC Hornet
Wait? We’re starting a list of cool Bond cars with an AMC? Are AMCs even cool? They are when Bond’s driving. In The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond jumped the little American hatch off a collapsed bridge and completed a full barrel roll. The actual car used to film the jump was sold at auction in 2017 for $110,000, in “as-jumped” condition.
Check out this interview to find out how they put the corkscrew jump on screen.
9. 1961 Sunbeam Alpine
Quick! Can you name the first car Bond drives on screen? Yup. It was a Sunbeam Alpine, a little British roadster with a 1.6-liter engine. Pretty underwhelming for a super spy, but like Bond’s tuxes the car Alpine exudes class. It’s just too bad Carol Shelby hadn’t gotten his hands on any Sunbeams yet. Starting around 1964 (two years after Dr. No came out), Shelby started cramming Ford V8s into Sunbeams and selling them as Sunbeam Tigers. Bond even got one-upped by Maxwell Smart, who drove a Tiger on the comedy spy show Get Smart.
8. 1957 Chevy Bel Air
In Dr. No, the villain got the cooler car, a ’57 Chevy convertible. Dr. No may have been an evil megalomaniac, but at least he had good taste in cars.
7. 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Bond drove a surprising amount of American machinery over his years. In Diamonds are Forever he tore up the Vegas strip in a Mustang Mach 1, one of the most American cars possible. The Bond in Motion museum exhibit recreated the chase in the reflection of the Vegas lights on this Mach 1.
6. Ford Ranchero
Pickup cars are great for odd jobs. And also for Oddjob. Goldfinger‘s short-statured assassin uses the Ranchero‘s ever-useful truck bed to bring Auric Goldfinger a crushed Lincoln (with some gold and one of the villain’s victims inside). Practical!
5. Aston Martin Vantage Volante
Aston Martin is probably the brand Bond is most strongly associated with, but there was actually a twenty year gap where he didn’t drive one. In 1987, Bond finally got back behind the wheel of the British brand, in The Living Daylights. Aston wanted to team up with Bond again so badly that the company’s chairman loaned the filmmakers his personal Vantage. In the movie, it had wheel spikes, skis, and a rocket engine. Civilians had to make due with 5.3 liter V8 that could take the car to 170 miles per hour.
Do villains get all the best cars? Well, let’s say you’re the hired muscle for an international drug smuggling operation. You need a car that’s fast. But you want to look stylish too, so what do you get? A Corvorado naturally. The Corvorado was a custom built by Les Dunham, basically a Corvette with a Cadillac Eldorado body and extremely schwanky red pinstripes. Corvette+Eldorado=Corvorado=awesomeness.
3. Submarine Lotus
The Lotus Esprit is a really underrated car. They were cool-looking, reasonably quick in it’s turbo version(0-60 in 5.3 seconds, according to Autocar), and could turn into a submarine. At least, the one’s specced out by Q branch could. Bond drove the Esprit on the road and under the seas in The Spy Who Loved Me. Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought the submarine used in the movie.
You can see the Lotus sub (and a bunch of other Bond cars) on display at the Bond in Motion exhibit in this video:
2. 1966 Toyota 2000GT
When in Rome, do as the Romans. When in Japan, get a Toyota. In You Only Live Twice, Bond rides in a 2000GT driven by his girlfiend Aki. There were two topless cars made for the movie. Every other 2000GT was a coupe, but Sean Connery actually didn’t fit in the small-ish car, so Toyota took the roof off. Current Bond actor Daniel Craig says the 2000GT is his favorite Bond car. The model in general is an extremely desirable collector car, with examples going for over a half million dollars at auction.
Full disclosure, the Toyota is my personal favorite. That being said, the DB5 is the Bond car, the absolute icon. Bond first drove the DB5 in Goldfinger, where he utilized it’s famous ejector seat. Bond seems to be using it as his personal car, and who could blame him. In GoldenEye he street races it against a Ferrari. He drives it again in Skyfall and even threatens to use that ejector seat again. It looks like Bond’s been maintaining the car over the decades.
Aston is making 25 reproductions of the GoldfingerDB5. You can get one for just $3.5 million. Unfortunately, for all that money, it won’t even be road legal, because Aston plans to include functioning gadgets from the movie. They haven’t said which gadgets you’ll get, but we’re gonna guess the machine guns probably won’t make the cut. Or you could get a street legal one at about half the price. One sold at auction around $1.5 million last year.
If you’re like us here, then this Lego version might be a little bit closer to your price range. You can’t drive it, but it has a little ejector seat for your Lego people, and that’s pretty cool.