Cars have long been central to any James Bond film.
And he’s driven some crackers, helping the likes of the Aston Martin DB5 and Lotus Esprit becoming icons of their ages. But he’s also driven some stinkers, sometimes for nakedly commercial reasons – let’s a take a look at the worst examples:
10. Citroen 2CV (For Your Eyes Only - 1981)
Offered under protest as anyone who’s driven a 2CV will know it’s actually probably the best car Bond ever drove. But ever since someone described them as upturned corrugated prams, there has been this notion that a 2CV is what you bought when you couldn’t afford anything else. But even I can see that they do not make ideal getaway cars.
9. Sunbeam Alpine (Dr No - 1962)
In the first book Bond drove a 1933 supercharged ‘Blower’ Bentley (Fleming got his date wrong – the car ceased production in 1930). In the first film? A Sunbeam Alpine. Not a bad car by any means, but some distance from what you’d want to introduce the world’s least secret agent to the silver screen. An E-type Jaguar, powerful, handsome and just a little rough around the edges would have been far more appropriate.
8. BMW 750iL (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997)
Another car that’s not bad as such, just a poor choice of transport for 007, not least because in its key scene, he’s not even in the driving seat. First, a mass-produced executive express is not in any way Bondian, second having him control it remotely by joystick puts a barrier between man and machine that may add novelty value, but kills the sense of action stone dead.
7. Ford Mondeo (Casino Royale, 2006)
It’s just such a bland, middle of the road choice, even if it’s clearly a hire car. James Bond drives a Ford Mondeo. Can you imagine the conversation at the Avis desk at the Bahamas airport? ‘An Aston Martin? I can do better than that Mr Bond. Here’s a brand new car from the company that actually owns Aston Martin you lucky man…’
6. Renault 11 (A View To A Kill, 1985)
A car so inherently dull they had to chop it in half and send it skittering around Paris just to liven up the scene. The only real entertainment it provides is seeing just how unlike Roger Moore the stunt driver looks when the roof gets chopped off. This was the absolute nadir of the Bond oeuvre when even the director appears to have lost all interest. It shows.
5. AMC Hornet (The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974)
A dreadful car in a dreadful film. Even if it had had the biggest, baddest engine available at the time it would still have had only 175bhp, a 5.9-litre V8 with less power than a 1.6-litre Ford Fiesta ST today. The bridge jump stunt was quite cool however, especially when you learn it was done with no camera tricks and in a single take. Otherwise, risible.
4. Leyland Sherpa van (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
It is possible I have lost my objectivity here after years of being dragged to school sports event in the back of one of these appalling machines, but at the time I also used to help out doing deliveries in a Transit and even then I can remember thinking how wildly superior was the Ford. It died in the desert, the best place for it.
3. Aston Martin Vanquish (Die Another Day, 2002)
This could have been in the top ten until the producers decided it could become invisible. The resulting Aston Martin ‘Vanish’ was Bond’s Fonzie Jumps The Shark moment after which I couldn’t take him, his car or anything he did in it seriously again for the rest of what was already an entirely rubbish film.
2. Lunar Buggy (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
As a kid I used to think this was quite cool, but looking at it again recently it just looks like what it is: a prop for a film and the fact that Bond escapes in it after having apparently discovered NASA trying to fake the moon-landings stretched the willing suspension of disbelief way past breaking point.
1. BMW Z3 (Goldeneye, 1995)
Product placement is as much part of Bond as dry martinis, Walther PPKs and Q-branch, but parachuting 007 into this dull and slow roadster was just plain cynical. There are plenty worse cars on this list, but he arrived at them incidentally: they were not the big ‘This is what James Bond chooses to drive’ statement. The Z3 was. After six years off the screen, it was the only bad moment in an otherwise cracking Bond caper. No wonder it was barely used.
Best of the baddies
It’s not just Bond who got to drive cool stuff. Who can forget Goldfinger’s Rolls-Royce Phantom III, Blofeld’s Mercedes-Benz 600 (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), Sanchez’s Maserati 425i in Licence to Kill, or the improbably named Xenia Onatopp’s Ferrari F355 in Goldeneye?
But there’s only one I really wish I’d driven, the Jaguar C-X75 in 2015’s Spectre (pictured). Best of all, out went the electric motors of the concept car, replaced by a 5.0-litre Jaguar V8 located in a spaceframe chassis designed on World Rally Car principles. Oh to have been the stuntman who got to spend a few weeks on location playing with that.