Tuesday August 8, 2017
Nearly all of us are familiar with the Aston Martin DB5, the Lotus Esprit and the other cars prepared by the Q division, but this is a tribute to those often unsung four-wheeled heroes of the Bond films. So, in chronological order, we have:
Dr. No – Vauxhall Velox PA
The Jamaican location work for Dr. No took place in early 1962 and features any number of excellent British cars from Standard Ensign taxis to police Ford Consul Mk. IIs. The vehicle that really caught my eye is Professor Dent’s green Velox; dashing, tail-finned and with sufficient power from its six-cylinder engine to cope with any tasks ordered by Nehru-jacketed fiends.
From Russia With Love – Citroen Onze Normale
This remains my favourite 007 film of all time, from the brilliant supporting cast of Robert Shaw, Pedro Armendáriz, Lotte Lenya, Walter Gotell (who subsequently appeared as General Gogol) and Vladek Sheybal to the street scenes of Istanbul. This is a city of Chevrolet Styleline De Luxes, Plymouth Savoy taxis - and where the Bulgarian secret service favour 14-year-old Citroen Traction Avants…
Thunderball – Morris Minor 1000 Convertible
I am not a tremendous fan of Thunderball – the underwater sequences appear to last for months – but it is notable for that handsome Mercedes-Benz 190 Ambulance and for being the only 007 film in which Bond rides in a Morris Minor 1000 Convertible.
You Only Live Twice – Toyopet Crown De Luxe
A film that no enthusiast of Japanese cars should be without in their DVD collection - that Prince Gloria Special taxi is a machine of utter beauty - even if it is difficult to watch the scene of that magnificent 1966 Crown being dropped into the ocean without wincing. No wonder Blofeld looks so cross when he finally meets James Bond - not only are his plans to conquer the world in grave danger, he has just lost his no claims bonus.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Ford Escort De Luxe Mk. I
Still one of the most underrated Bond films and one that heavily features a recently launched Ford of Europe family saloon - product placement at its finest.
The Man with the Golden Gun – MGB Roadster Mk. II
Which Bond film features a guest appearance from an MGB? The bridge stunt with the AMC Matador inevitably dominates automotive memories of The Man with the Golden Gun but in the Hong Kong sequences Britt Ekland drivers a beige coloured Roadster. This was all excellent publicity for Abingdon, even if 007 rudely refers to the MG as an ‘inverted bedpan’.
The Spy Who Loved Me – Ford Taunus Ghia
As shark-obsessed megalomaniacs who wish to rule the world go, Karl Stromberg is a very considerate employer. After all, a lesser international supervillain would have issued his army of thugs with a Taunus 1.6L but only a Ghia fitted with optional alloy will suffice for the strong-arm types in The Spy Who Loved Me. And it even looks good when leaving the highway.
For Your Eyes Only – Peugeot 504
You can just imagine Aristotle Kristatos going through a concise list of desirable attributes for a henchman's company car - ‘dignified appearance’, ‘reliable’, ‘good handling and brakes’, ‘windows large enough for fist waving and/or gesticulating with fire arm…’ A pair of second-hand Peugeot 504s clearly fitted the bill, even if they are unable to out horsepower a Citroen 2CV6 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SPJB61Yad8
Octopussy – Austin FX4
This was a film that looked fairly antique even on its first cinematic release but any picture in which Jeremy ‘Boba Fett’ Bulloch drives an FX4 taxi cannot be entirely devoid of merit.
The Living Daylights – Lada 1500/1600
Aston Martin V8 Mk. IV versus Lada 1500 and 1600 has to be one of the most unfairly matched chases in cinematic history – especially if the former has been specially fitted with Q’s patent laser beams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx8rAniu_tQ