The James Bond films have always had something for the motoring enthusiast, whether it's an exciting car chase or an out-of-this-world vehicle to simply ogle at. Ladbrokes has recently shared their thoughts on the best Bond cars, and here is our take. Unlike most such lists, here we are rating the cars' performance on screen, rather than just having the cars face off in a Top Trumps handling/looks/performance kind of way... Let’s begin with the best:
#1. 1963 Aston Martin DB5
First appeared in Goldfinger, but also seen in Thunderball, Goldeneye, Casino Royale and Skyfall. (Also makes brief cameo appearances in Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough).
0-60mph in 8.1 seconds
3996 cc engine
Price Today: If you have to ask, you can’t afford one, even mouse infested barn find examples sell for nearly $500,000, so our advice is not to go shopping for one of these babies unless you have at least a million dollars burning a hole in your wallet. The very similar looking DB6 can be found slightly cheaper (around $500,000).
Pros: This car is synonymous with Bond – see one in any color, anywhere in the world, and you’ll start humming the James Bond theme. So it is no surprise that it made it onto the Ladbrokes List of Best Cars from the Bond Movies, and with good reason. It was the first of Bond’s cars to be ‘gadgetised’, was introduced to Bond by Q in one of the franchise’s most memorable scenes, and it has appeared in the most films.
Cons: Price, obviously, and it is also worth noting that while 0-60 in 8.1 seconds might have seemed eye wateringly fast in 1963, most entry level family sedans today are at least that fast.
#2 1976 Lotus Espirit S1 / 1980 Lotus Esprit Turbo
The Spy Who Loved Me / For Your Eyes Only
0-60mph in 6.8 seconds
2.0 L engine
Price Today: $8500 - $65000.
Pros: The iconic wedge design is something people either love or they hate. Personally, I love it, and think each subtle redesign of this car only made it more beautiful.
The sight of Bond’s white 1976 Esprit driving off the pier and into the sea is one of my first cinematic experiences, and let’s face it any car that can turn into a submarine at a moment's notice, just sounds so James Bond!
Cons: Build quality and reliability may vary.
#3 1981 Citroen 2CV
For Your Eyes Only
0-60mph in... Under a minute… Probably… Downhill, with the wind behind you.
Flat-2, ohv, 2v/cyl engine
Pros: Like Germany’s VW Beetle and Britain’s Mini, France’s ubiquitous 2CV went largely unchanged design wise for 40 years. While easily dismissed on most lists as one of the worst cars driven by James Bond, here’s why you should give the 2CV a second chance.
After Moonraker took James Bond into Space, the producers rightly felt that the next Bond film couldn’t possibly be any bigger, so they would have to go back to basics. Just as we are expecting another fantastic car chase with Bond in his new Lotus Turbo Esprit, it self destructs, and Roger Moore’s Bond has to use all his skill and cunning (rather than gadgetry) to evade his pursuers while driving Melina’s 2CV. The car chase is fun to watch, funny, and memorable, and the 2CV is one of the few “James Bond Cars” that just about anyone can afford – Even a dented and beaten up version can be painted yellow and made to look like the one in the movie! Given the rarity of the car in the USA today, it would make heads turn here, every bit as much as an Aston Martin…
Cons: …though not necessarily for the same reasons - some of the heads that turn may be laughing at you. Probably, even less cool in Europe where there are still probably millions of 2CVs still on the road.
Price today: $8000-$25,000 (in the US – no doubt considerably cheaper in Europe)
#4 1968 Aston Martin DBS
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
0-60mph in 7.1 seconds
4.0L DOHC straight-6 engine
Price Today: Until quite recently, the 1967-1972 DBS could be found quite cheaply (under $40,000) but prices are rising steadily. $50,000- $300,000+
While remembered (if at all) only as the James Bond car in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, another DBS can also be seen in the background (being fitted with small missiles) in the next Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, when Sean Connery’s 007 is talking to Q on the telephone.
George Lazenby’s Bond probably wished he’d stuck with the DB5 if only because, as Q explained patiently in Goldfinger: “Windscreen - Bullet Proof as are the side and rear windows…” Of course, if the rear window was bullet proof, why did the car also come with the bullet proof shield that slides up out of the trunk? Perhaps Blofeld’s guns were loaded with armour piercing rounds? In any case, no gadgets are on show in the DBS, and Bond’s wife died in it, and perhaps as a result of that it never really made the same impact on screen or in Aston Martin Sales that the DB5 and DB6 had. In 1972 the DBS V8 was given a single headlight front end and remained largely unchanged for over a decade – later appearing as both a convertible and coupe driven by Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights.
I always liked the scene in which Bond is driving the DBS along a winding Portugal road, his face hidden by shadows and cigarette smoke. However, Bond’s ability to make the tires squeal while driving on sand is also impressive.
#6 1974 AMC Hornet Hatchback
The Man With The Golden Gun
0-60mph in 12.7 seconds
5896 cc engine
Price Today: $5,000-$20,000
Pros: This car spins in the air and lands on the other side of a broken bridge, which is seriously impressive stunt work.
Cons: The scene is ruined by a silly whistling sound, and for a franchise known for showcasing luxury goods that the common man cannot afford, nothing made by AMC is going to make an everyman drool like they would for an Aston Martin or a Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini…
#6 1985 Renault 11
A View To A Kill
0-60mph in 20.2 seconds
Price Today: $2000
Pros: Of course we love the scene where this Renault taxi gets sliced in half and Bond keeps driving it. How could we not?
Cons: But when something is so blatantly impossible - after all, the missing bit contained the fuel tank - it's quite difficult to be wholly impressed. If James Bond hadn’t smashed one up, would anybody really remember the Renault 11?
#7 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
Die Another Day
0-60mph in 3.7 seconds
engine 48 valve V12
Price Today: $59,000 (used) - $220,000 (new)
Pros: It is a modern Gadget filled Aston Martin. The idea of Bond’s gadget filled car facing off against a bad guy with as many gadgets in his car was an interesting idea…
Cons: …But I don’t think it paid off. Die Another Day is Bond’s second Moonraker – with every film since For Your Eyes Only ramping up again, bigger and better, Die Another Day just goes too far. But while Moonraker is still fun to watch, the plot of this film is weak, and un-original and worst of all there are CGI effects which just don’t work too well. CGI is not what Bond is all about – it’s the fact that the filmmakers typically rely on practical effects - blowing things up for real - that makes Bond films so much fun to watch. The AMC Hornet Bridge stunt used a computer to calculate speeds and angles, but the stunt was done for real with a real man in a real car. It is no surprise that the next film, Casino Royale, was as back to basics as For Your Eyes Only.
#8 BMW Z3
0-60mph in 6.5 seconds
engine 2793 cc 12v
Price today: $8,500-$35,000
Pros: Probably a very nice and fun car to drive, and quite affordable today. Supposedly equipped with 'Stinger' missiles and other armaments in the film…
Cons: …which are never seen or used on screen. So clearly a last minute addition to the film - the car is left-hand drive since presumably no right hand drive vehicles had been built yet. Total screen time: less than two minutes. Little more than a blatant product placement Ad for BMW.
With Spectre on its way to us very soon (26th October 2015 in the UK) both car and Bond enthusiasts are eagerly waiting to see what Q-branch has added to the Aston Martin DB-10, and whether or not 007 can bring it back in once piece. Somehow, it's always more fun when he doesn't.
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