The Bond cars. They are perhaps at least as famous as the Bond girls, more interesting than Bond’s various gadgets and more enduring than almost all of the many stunts, slugfests and harrowing escapes performed by the world’s most famous spy, James Bond 007.
For six decades, the cars have fascinated us. And now that the latest Bond saga, No Time to Die, is upon us, we once again pause to consider the delicious Aston Martin DB5, the DBS V-12 and so much more. (Daniel Craig’s final turn as 007 is winning excellent reviews, by the way.)
The producers and custodians of the Bond franchise — MGM, the Broccoli family, EON Productions and Pinewood Studios – know how to market a Bond movie, especially one whose release was delayed for 18 months as the COVID pandemic ranged across the globe. Meantime, entrepreneurs recognize that the arrival of a new Bond movie is the perfect time to write a book or open a museum exhibit that celebrates Bond-related things.
Which brings us to the latest in a long line of Bond car books. Last spring, the BBC Top Gear publication 007 Bond Cars – The Definitive History arrived, to almost no one’s surprise. British journo Jason Barlow drives us through a well-researched, film-by-film history of not just the Bond cars, but other rides featured in the 25 Bond films – from Dr. No to No Time to Die. This could very well be the ultimate fanboy car guide, a Bond car geek-out, if you will.
You will find endless details about every car ever driven by our suave, ruthless, martini-drinking womanizer. Barlow had access to a treasure trove of material – technical drawings, story boards and more — as well as interviews with long-time producer Barbara Broccoli, Daniel Craig, and special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, a veteran of 15 Bond films.
Now if you want to get up close and personal with Bond cars and other moving memorabilia, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has a new exhibit, Bond in Motion. Billed as “the largest official Bond vehicle display to date in the U.S.,” the exhibit boasts “more than 30 cars, motorcycles, boats, submarines, helicopters and even scale filming models of aircraft from an array of both classic and contemporary Bond films.” (Of course, Canadians will need to navigate COVID border restrictions to get to the Petersen.)
The exhibit is a classic case of cross promotion. The Petersen worked with EON Productions, the Ian Fleming Foundation and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) to stage the exhibition, coinciding with the newest Bond film, of course. You might be stirred by the show, but not likely shaken. In any case, the exhibition runs until October 2022. So, no hurry.
I, for one, am among the many Baby Boomers who as a youngster thrilled to those classic Astons armed with water cannons, bullet proof shields and the always amusing ejector seat first seen in Goldfinger. The DBS chase scene in Quantum of Solace stands out, too. However, Goldeneye’s little four-cylinder BMW Z3 in light blue made history as perhaps the most amusing car-casting disaster in Bond lore. (Watching the portly Joe Don Baker stuff himself into the cockpit was pure slapstick.)
In any case, with each Bond movie comes another chapter in the story of the secret agent and his cars. Surely Bond in an electric vehicle is just a movie away. But that will be for Daniel Craig’s successor to sort out.