Saturday 1 October 2016

Cars we Bonded with as the slick super-spy drove into our hearts

Aston Martins, Mustangs to Escorts and even a Citroen 2CV all sent Brian Twomey to oh, oh car heaven

Published 24/04/2016 | 02:30

Sean Connery with the legendary Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger
Sean Connery with the legendary Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger
The Ford Mustang appeared three times in Bond films

Given his fondness for high-end British luxury cars it really is hard to fathom that James Bond's first cinematic set of wheels was rented for the princely sum of two shillings a day.

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In the 1962 James Bond film Dr No, 007 is seen shaking off the villainous advances of a 1939 La Salle hearse in a series two Sunbeam Tiger. The car was rented from a local woman on location in Jamaica on condition they didn't bend it during filming.

The success of this and From Russia with Love in 1963 saw the budget reach new heights for the third Bond film in 1964, Goldfinger.

Dubbed the most famous car in the world, Bond's brand-new DB5 was in actual fact a DB4 that was modified into a DB5 and used as a prototype.

When Bond producers approached Aston Martin the prototype car was fitted with gadgets by special effects artist John Stears, the man behind the Star Wars lightsaber, while two other new cars were used for close up shots.

Such was the success of the film and the appearance of the DB5 that Aston celebrated by doing something rare the following year; turning a profit.

Goldfinger might be remembered for the DB5 but it also represents one of the first of many cinematic appearances of the Ford Mustang. So chuffed was Ford with the reception for the Mustang, that it appeared again in Thunderball in 1965 and in a memorable car chase with Connery at the wheel in Diamonds are Forever in 1971.

George Lazenby's sole appearance as 007, in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, saw not only the appearance of the new Aston DBS but also a Ford-built Mercury Cougar and a brace of Ford Escorts, all bashed to pieces in an innovative ice-chase sequence.

Ford wasn't alone in sensing Bond's advertising allure. In 1973, the first Roger Moore film sees a brief and dramatic sequence where 007 tries to wrestle control of his Chevrolet Bel Air on a New York expressway completely populated by 1973 model Chevrolets.

Despite the success of the Goldfinger DB5, Connery's 007 would not be given an official set of wheels from Q again.

Indeed, it would be Roger Moore in the role 13 years later before 007 got a new, tricked-up company car.

Legend has it that Lotus found out which central London restaurant Bond producer Cubby Broccoli went to lunch in and then arranged for a prototype Esprit to be parked across the street.

Being a Roger Moore Bond film however, they couldn't just settle for a conventional car chase. Therefore in 1977, audiences for The Spy Who Loved Me were treated to an Esprit submersible complete with ink jets, limpet mines and oh-so-seventies Wolfrace alloy wheels.

By making an Esprit that didn't leak, Q-branch had succeeded where Lotus had failed.

Bond's reputation for thrashing cars in the pursuit of super villains, beautiful women or vodka martinis is well documented.

An implausible chase involving a Citroen 2CV and a brace of much more powerful Peugeot 504s in For Your Eyes Only set the tone of the raised-eyebrow Moore years.

In 1983, he uses an Alfa Romeo GTV6 to evade BMW- driving German police to prevent a nuclear explosion in a brief, but entertaining sequence, in the neither brief nor entertaining Octopussy. In 1985, a now haggard looking Moore commandeers a Renault 11 taxi to chase after a parachute gliding Grace Jones in A View to a Kill.

Moore shows off the safety features of the Renault by slicing it into three but that still didn't stop Renault using the appearance in the film to shore up interest in its new Volkswagen Golf rival.

Deadly serious Timothy Dalton got his own gadget-laden Aston Martin Vantage in his 1987 debut The Living Daylights but despite the a-ha theme, the laser tyre shredders and the undoubted allure of Myriam D'Abo, the Welshman fell flat with the critics.

That said, the critics didn't do handstands over our own Pierce Brosnan either, although the 1.9, four-cylinder BMW Z3 in Goldeneye didn't help. Indeed, the 007 for the nineties drove a string of BMWs in a highly publicised deal which saw Bond driving a 750iL and a Z8.

That said, the Z8 wasn't ready in time for The World is not Enough in 1999, so the car you see is a Dax Cobra replica with a Chevy engine and BMW panels attached. Reversed a few feet and sliced in half, the Z8's demise is a low point in arguably Brosnan's best film.

Daniel Craig, the darling of the critics and the most celebrated Bond since Connery, must be special. Not only did he perform a record-breaking barrel roll in Casino Royale and bashed his DBS off a few Alfa Romeos in Quantum of Solace, but the company that once asked Cubby Broccoli cost price for a DB5 built the DB10 specifically for Craig to drive in this year's Spectre.

So from rented Sunbeams to his own bespoke Aston, Bond's journey through cinema history wouldn't have been half as eventful if he didn't have the right car to drive along the way.

Sunday Independent

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