In the iconic James Bond film, GoldenEye, a conversation between Natalya Simonova and Bond occurs, essentially summing up Bond's relationship with almost every vehicle he drives.
Natalya Simonova: "Do you destroy every vehicle you get into?"
Bond: "Standard operating procedure. Boys with toys."
Over the years, and even in the novels, Bond is the connoisseur of luxury rides. Even the colorful assortment of villains that Bond faces during his adventurous quests drive cars that fall into the higher price ranges. Between Bond, the bad guys, and MI6, over 17 different makes and even more models were used in the James Bond series of movies and novels. These numbers don't even touch the "extras" found in parking lots or driven by innocent bystanders.
The Many Cars of the James Bond Series
There is no denying that James Bond and every nemesis within the series knows how to get around. In most cases, they not only get around, but they get around in style. Here are some of the cars that can be found in either films or novels:
- Alfa Romeo
- AMC (American Motor Company)
- Aston Martin
- British Leyland/Rover/MG
- Ford Motor Company
- General Motors (GM)
- Jaguar Cars
- Land Rover
Some cars are specifically reserved for use by Bond. For example, the Saab model is only found in the novel and is only driven by Bond.
The same type of scenario applies to the Aston Martin and the Bentley's used. Only Bond and MI6 are seen driving these models in the movies and novels. It was a no-brainer to make our first piece about Bond's favorites, the Aston Martin DB5 and Bentley 4 ½ Litre.
Aston Martin DB5
[Bond opens a garage door to reveal his Aston Martin DB5]
M: "Oh, and I suppose that's completely inconspicuous."
Bond: "Get in."
The Aston Martin DB5 is a British luxury grand tourer (GT) manufactured by Aston Martin and designed by the Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera. Although this wasn't the only car in the DB series, it is best known because of the cinematic link to Bond, James Bond.
The DB5 Aston Martin design was an upgraded version of its predecessor – DB4. The main difference between these two vehicles is the all-aluminum engine enlarged from 3.7 L to 4.0 L, a new and more robust ZF five-speed transmission, and three SU carburetors.
The standard equipment featured on the DB5 included reclining seats, wool pile carpeting, twin fuel tanks, electric windows, chrome wire wheels, oil cooler, full leather trim in the cabin, a fire extinguisher, and a magnesium alloy body built to the Superleggera patent. All the DB5 Astin Martins are two-door designs with a 2+2 configuration.
Like its predecessor, the DB5 features a live rear axle. The first models used a four-speed manual with an overdrive option but were dropped to accommodate the ZF five-speed. A Borg-Warner DG three-speed automatic transmission option was also available. Before the DB6 model replaced the DB5, the three-speed automatic became known as the Borg-Warner Model 8.
|Engine||4.0 L (3,995 cc) inline-six|
|Bore x Stroke||96 mm X 9 2mm (3.78 in x 3.62 in)|
|Fuel Feed||3 SU Carburetors|
|Power||282 bhp (286 PS; 210 kW) at 5,500 rpm, 210 bhp (213 PS; 157 kW)|
|Torque||288 lb⋅ft (390 N⋅m) at 3,850 rpm|
|Weight||1,502 kg (3,311 lb)|
|Top Speed||145 mph (233 km/h)|
|0-60 acceleration||8 seconds|
Variants of the Astin Martin DB5
The traditional DB5 came in three variants – Vantage, a convertible, and a Shooting-Brake prototype.
Shooting-Brake: The Shooting-Brake prototype was custom produced by Sir David Brown. Only 11-12 coupes were custom modified by independent coachbuilder Harold Radford & Co. The taillights used for the Shooting-Brake design were Triumph units, which the successor, DB6, adopted. In August 2019, one of these unique vehicles sold for $1.765 million – marking the Astin Martin DB5 variant the most valuable Shooting-Brake sold at auction.
Vantage: The DB5 Vantage was introduced on the market in 1964, and only 65 were produced. The Vantage featured three Weber carburetors instead of the traditionally used SU carburetors and a revised camshaft. This variant of DB5 delivered greater top-end performance but at the expense of driveability due to the Webers being known for the "full-throttle" response. The Vantage horsepower topped out at 325 bhp (330 PS; 242 kW) at 5,500 rpm.
Convertible: 123 convertible DB5s were produced (including Touring bodies) but didn't don the "Volante" name until closer to 1965. Of these 123, 19 of them were made for left-hand driving. 12 were fitted with a factory Vantage engine with one additional car (at least) being fitted with the DB6 engine. Another rare factory option that came with the convertible was a removable steel hardtop fitted by Works Service before being delivered to the customer.
The last 37 cars of the Aston Martin convertible line, circa 1965 to 1966, were created using another style of chassis – "Short Chassis Volantes." These were the first to adopt the Volante name. Despite having "short" in the name, this convertible is no shorter than the other DB5 models produced. The moniker comes from being compared to the DB6, which featured the longer-style chassis.
Bond's DB5 is Anything But Standard
Special effects expert John Stears is the first to modify the Aston Martin DB5 for use in the 1964 Bond film Goldfinger. In the novel, Ian Fleming had Bond driving a DB Mark III. Still, it was Stears who persuaded the company to make the DB5 prototype available.
The beginning of the Bond and Aston Martin affiliation was put on display that same year, with two of the vehicles gracing the 1964 New York World's Fair – dubbing it the "most famous car in the world." The original DB5 used in Goldfinger was stripped of the gadgets after the filming was over and subsequently resold by the manufacturer. The Chassis DP/216/1 DB5 didn't stop its movie career there. It went on to be featured in The Cannonball Run in 1981, driven by Robert Moore.
The last owner of the Chassis DP/216/1 DB5 reported the vehicle stolen in 1997, and it is still missing today.
The 25th installment of the Bond series "No Time to Die" is scheduled to come out on October 8, 2021, in the United States. Aston Martin confirmed that the car would be featured in the film. The manufacturer is reported to have built 25 replicas of the original Goldfinger DB5, all with functioning spy gadgets to include a smokescreen, revolving license plate, oil slick, (non-functioning) machine guns, and rear bullet shield.
Bentley 4 ½ Litre
Bond: "Where's my Bentley?"
Q: "It's had its day, I'm afraid."
Bond: "But it's never let me down."
Q: "M's orders, 007."
Thus far, in the history of James Bond and his connection with MI6, they are the only ones seen driving the Bentley 4 ½ Litre. The Bentley was also one of Bond's primary vehicles and personal possessions in Fleming's novels.
The Bentley 4 ½ Litre was a British car built by Bentley Motors and based on a rolling chassis. Walter Owen Bently replaced the Bentley 3 with this more powerful car, increasing engine displacement to 4.4 litres and creating a racing variant known as the "Blower Bentley."
|Engine||4.4 L (4,398 cc)|
|Bore x Stroke||100 mm X 140 mm (3.9 in x 5.5 in)|
|Fuel Feed||2 SU Carburetors|
|Power||122 PS/ 120 bhp/ 89 kW @4,000 rpm|
|Torque||Varies based on model year|
|Weight||1,625 kg (3,583 lb)|
|Top Speed||130 mph (209.2 km/h) – record 138 mph (222.03 km/h)|
|0-60 acceleration||15 seconds|
Bond and Bentley – Not Quite As Popular
Even though Bond does bring a flair to the Bentley on a more personal level, the popularity for spies isn't as profound as the Aston Martin DB5. It is Bond who is credited with driving one of the last Blower Bentleys that was built – a battleship grey Convertible Coupe featuring French Marchal headlights.
The Bentley 4 ½ Litre hasn't had a Bond gig since the 1983 movie Never Say Never Again, and even then, it was only a brief appearance. It appears that the primary existence of the Bentley in Bond's life was in Fleming's novels – Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, and Moonraker.
How Does the Aston Martin DB5 and Bentley 4 ½ Litre Compare Based on Bond's Life?
It is obvious that the Bentley does not play as significant of a part in the life of James Bond as the DB5. However, the DB5 is not a vehicle found in Bond’s everyday life like the Bentley. To sum it up, the DB5 was Bond’s work vehicle and the Bentley 4 ½ Litre was more “daily driver” material.
We could spend weeks comparing all of the vehicles that have had their day in the spotlight thanks to James Bond, but none have quite the connection like these two. These are the only two vehicles that were ever specifically driven by Bond or MI6. They were never used as a primary vehicle of a nemesis.
What do you think it would be like to own a car with all the spy gadget modifications? Would you save the world? Wear a suit and tie and chase down the bad guys?
Pat Fearing: “What exactly do you do?”
Bond: “Oh, I travel… a sort of licensed troubleshooter.”