The best James Bond cars of all time (and the stories behind them)
To celebrate James Bond Day, we look back at the spy franchise's most iconic cars – from a Ford Mondeo to a Toyota 2000GT.
To honour the British spy that captivated the world, every year the world celebrates James Bond Day on October 5 – the date the first James Bond film Dr. No premiered back in 1962.
James Bond Day was created in October 2012 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bond film series.
Though audiences generally associate Bond with Aston Martin, the original car that featured in Ian Fleming's first novel Casino Royale was a 1931 4.5-litre Blower Bentley.
Fleming’s Bond world has garnered a loyal following spanning multiple generations – entertaining audiences with a mix of British class and sophistication, spy-centric plots and, of course, the iconic vehicles that feature in the hero's countless car chases.
To commemorate the iconic James Bond legacy, here are Drive’s Top 10 most iconic 007 cars.
But first, some honourable mentions...
Citroën 2CV – For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Appearing in For Your Eyes Only, the yellow 2CV was the getaway car of Bond and Melina Havelock (played by Carole Bouquet) as they made their way through the winding roads.
To capitalise on the popularity of the spy franchise, Citroën launched a special ‘007’ 2CV edition in tandem with the film, decorated with fake bullet hole stickers and ‘007’ painted on the front doors and bonnet of the car.
Ford Mondeo ST – Casino Royale (2006)
Typically, a Ford sedan wouldn’t be associated with the luxurious lifestyle of James Bond. However, after signing a multi-million sponsorship deal with Ford, the Bond franchise showcased a few Ford models throughout the franchise.
The Ford Mondeo that was briefly shown in Casino Royale was a hand-built prototype specifically made for the movie.
Since the Mondeo wasn’t set to be released until after the movie was released, it was sent to the Bahamas where the movie was filmed under a veil of secrecy as a marketing ploy by Ford – further capitalising on a larger product placement trend.
The 10 best James Bond cars of all time...
10. Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II – A View to a Kill (1985)
Roger Moore’s final ride as Bond was bookmarked with the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II in A View to a Kill.
The car was known to die-hard fans and the production team as ‘CUB 1’ – named after the original owner and Bond film producer, Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli.
Sadly, in the film the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II met its untimely demise when it sunk to the bottom of a lake with MI6 agent Sir Godfrey Tibbett inside.
9. Sunbeam Alpine Series II – Dr. No (1962)
No Bond list would be complete without the film and the car that started it all. Before the high-tech weapons, special effects and spy gadgets, Sean Connery’s depiction of Agent 007 in the franchise’s debut Dr. No relied on driving skills and wit to captivate audiences.
After failing to secure a production car from Alpine, the production team had to get creative and ended up renting the now iconic Sunbeam Alpine Series II from a local in Jamaica.
8. Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante – The Living Daylights (1987)
Considered Britain’s first supercar according to Aston Martin, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage was the first appearance of the British car in the franchise in the '80s after a nearly two-decade disappearance.
Bond’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage was first introduced as the convertible Volante version – a pre-production car that belonged to then-Aston Martin Chairman Victor Gauntlett.
Timothy Dalton’s Bond was equipped with a winterised version of the Aston Martin V8 (courtesy of ‘Q’) fitted with a hardtop roof, rockets behind the fog lamps, rocket boosters, steel spikes, a wheel-mounted laser and bulletproof glass.
7. BMW 750iL – Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Pierce Brosnan’s Bond era had a plethora of icon-worthy cars – but a remote-controlled BMW 750iL spy car was one of the standouts.
Brosnan's BMW 750iL was fully customised and featured defence mechanisms like roof-mounted rocket launchers, a cable-cutting device on the front bonnet, tear gas, and self-sealing and re-inflating tyres.
Four versions of the BMW sedan were adapted so a concealed driver could hide in the back and control the vehicle, giving the illusion of the car being controlled remotely by Bond’s Ericsson cell phone.
6. Toyota 2000GT – You Only Live Twice (1967)
Needing a car in Japan, Sean Connery’s Bond turned to the Toyota 2000GT as his ride in 1967's You Only Live Twice.
Due to the popularity of James Bond films in Japan, Toyota was happy to assist with the supply of cars and fitted the Bond car with Sony gadgets like CCTV cameras, colour-television receivers, cameras behind the front numberplate, a voice-controlled tape recorder and two-way radios.
The 2000GT was originally a coupé, but was famously turned into a convertible due to Sean Connery being too tall to fit into the standard 2000GT model.
The two 2000GT roadsters used in the film are the only two open-top variants of the 2000GT ever made, with just 351 units of the 2000GT produced in total.
5. Aston Martin DBS – Casino Royale (2006)
To accompany Daniel Craig’s first performance as James Bond in Casino Royale, the Aston Martin DBS showcased in the film was not only a homage to the previous Aston Martin DBS models but blended a mix of simplicity with sophistication.
Swapping gimmick spy gadgets in favour of a hidden compartment with just a defibrillator and a handgun, while being powered by the brand's famous V12 engine, Craig’s Aston Martin DBS was the embodiment of the original ethos behind the Bond saga – subtle, elegant, and powerful.
Aston Martin provided four hand-built prototypes for the 2006 film, and it's a good thing too – the stunt cars were rolled a record-breaking seven times in one of the movie's most memorable chase scenes.
4. BMW Z8 – The World is Not Enough (1999)
While the BMW and Bond partnership gave us some memorable models such as the BMW Z3 in GoldenEye and the 750iL in Tomorrow Never Dies, the most popular BMW model associated with the British spy is the BMW Z8 model.
Racing through the Azerbaijan oil fields before getting sliced in half by a helicopter’s blades, the BMW Z8’s lack of screen time can be attributed to the fact BMW was still halfway through its development of the Z8 and could only produce two production hero cars for the film.
The Z8 in the film was equipped with all the technological mainstays of espionage, including titanium plating and armour, missiles, remote control steering, and smoke screens – to name a few.
3. Aston Martin V12 Vanquish – Die Another Day (2002)
Appropriately nicknamed ‘Vanish’ due to the car’s ability to use adaptive camouflage to become invisible, the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish in Die Another Day formed the engineering and design foundations for current-generation Aston Martin models.
Besides the invisibility feature, Bond’s V12 Vanquish came equipped with a range of auto-targeting guns, missiles, ejector seats, remote steering via the car keys and thermal imaging, capitalising on what audiences of the time imagined a spy car to be.
In an interview with Wired, Aston Martin's Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman spoke on the technological advancements that came with the V12 Vanquish.
“The Aston Martin Vanquish really was the start of a new era for Aston Martin. If you look at the Vanquish it’s a really muscular, very powerful car," he said.
“It signified a big change for Aston Martin, but it’s very much a technology story. And I think it suited Brosnan … because this Bond was all about technology."
2. Lotus Esprit Series 1 Submarine – The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
If it wasn’t for the Lotus PR team, who parked a then-unreleased pre-production version of the Esprit S1 outside of the Bond production offices, fans would have never been introduced to one of the franchise's most iconic cars.
Captivating audiences and their imagination with its transformation from sports car into submarine during the film’s major chase sequence, the Lotus Esprit S1 submarine is widely considered one of the greats in the pantheon of Bond cars.
The idea for the sports car submarine came from second unit director Ernie Day and art director Peter Lamont, who likened the Lotus Esprit S1’s streamlined body to a submarine.
Due to the rarity and custom-built nature of the Esprit S1, Lotus granted the production team one fully functioning model for the film.
Needing a second model for the film, then Lotus Chairman Colin Chapman lent out his own personal Esprit S1.
There were seven total Esprit S1 shells given to production, some used as stunt cars, others equipped with submersible machinery, and one sent to a custom submarine maker in America who completely transformed the sports car into a fully functioning aquatic sports car.
The amphibious Lotus Esprit S1 submarine was also equipped with traditional spy gear such as front-firing torpedoes, sea-to-air missile launchers, rear-mounted inkjets, bulletproof assembly and a periscope just to name a few.
1. Aston Martin DB5 – Goldfinger (1964)
Appearing in multiple films throughout the entirety of the franchise, the Aston Martin DB5 has become synonymous with James Bond.
The Aston Martin DB series was originally featured in the original novels by Ian Fleming where the fictional spy was seen in a DB Mark III.
Famed for its utilisation of the traditional spy gear Bond would eventually become known for, the DB5 used in Goldfinger came equipped with Browning machine guns, revolving licence plates, bulletproof windows, oil-ejecting device, smoke screens, water cannons, passenger ejector seat and the like.
Building on the popularity of the DB5 Aston Martin in Goldfinger, Aston Martin created 25 continuation cars on the anniversary of Goldfinger's premiere release that were equipped with all the on-screen-lethal original spy specs excluding the ejector seat and opening roof.
In an interview with the American publication Wired, Chief Creative Officer of Aston Martin Marek Reichman spoke on the commercial success of the DB5 from Goldfinger heading into Thunderball.
“Goldfinger made DB5 a huge success. By the time we got to Thunderball, DB5 was going out of production because we oversold,” he said.
“We could only make 11 cars a week and there was a demand for 50."