Bond has always had a licence to thrill when it comes to automotive technology
We like to think that nobody does it better when it comes to bringing the worlds of automotive and technology together, but admittedly, there is somebody who perhaps pulls it off with a little more style. In our defence though, he’s a work of fiction, and has hundreds of millions of pounds, not to mention a dedicated government department funding both his garage and gadgets.
We are of course talking about Bond, James Bond. You know the name, and you are almost certainly familiar with his taste in technology and great cars. Since they first appeared on screen though, more of these features are appearing in our own vehicles.
Okay, machine-guns, missiles, and oil slicks (at least deliberate ones) may still be unlikely optional extras, but other Bond-style tech is making it onto the market.
In ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ for instance, Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan, uses his phone to remotely drive his BMW 750iL, dodging bullets from the back seat as he escapes a hotel car park filled with bad guys and obstacles. Now, Jaguar Land Rover are developing a Range Rover Sport that can be controlled via a smartphone app. And although not his beloved Aston, the BMW went down as one of the greatest Bond cars ever. With a sunroof full of missiles, a rear bumper that dispensed tyre-shredding caltrops, and a security system that defied sledge hammers, it was certainly a step up from the rather underwhelming Z3 he’d been given for Goldeneye. There was even a handy cutting device that popped up from underneath the BMW badge. More to the point, it also had run-flat tyres, which again are now widely available, although self-inflation may still be pushing it.
Roger Moore’s Bond had to wait three whole films before he got a literal ‘Q’ car, but it was worth the wait. In ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, Bond takes delivery of a Lotus Esprit S1. Rather famously, the film’s director and the studio stunt drivers were initially concerned that the car couldn’t perform the tight, fast manoeuvring required for its famous clash with a helicopter along twisting Sardinian cliff-top roads. Enter Roger Becker, Lotus’s engineer and test-driver, who jumped into the driving seat, literally, to prove it could. This car’s trump card was its amphibious abilities, and now another Lotus inspired shape has taken to the sea in the form of the Rinspeed sQuba.
But perhaps the best Bond cars are still the ones that add a little more punch than current consumers demand.
The Aston Martin DB5 first appeared in ‘Goldfinger’, and has remained a stalwart of the franchise, stealing the thunder (or should that be Thunderball?) from the aforementioned BMW Z3 in ‘Goldeneye’, and appearing significantly in the more recent ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Spectre’. And although pop-up navigation systems, tracking devices, and more connected communications are certainly now available, we’re still yet to see bullet-proof screens, fog-light machine-guns, and ejector seats on contemporary Aston option lists.
Snow tyres and ski-holdalls are also widely available, but on the Aston Martin V8 Vantage from ‘The Living Daylights’, the skis are deployed from underneath the car, and the studs extend through the rubber as required. Among its weaponry is also a heads-up display, which too can be found in the modern marketplace, although usually to indicate speed rather than being a handy missile targeting device.
And of course, Bond isn’t against using cars that haven’t been provided by Q branch. Especially when it comes to American offerings. In ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, he steals an AMC Hornet straight from the dealership. The lack of gadgets didn’t stop him performing the first ever recorded astro-spiral jump on film, making it into the 1974 Guinness World Records by doing so. The Ford Mustang Mach 1 from ‘Diamonds are Forever’ was also remarkably gadget free, although we still don’t quite know how he managed to leave the alley on the opposite two wheels to the ones he went in on. It may not go down as one of the greatest Bond Cars ever, but it will go down as one of the most famous continuity errors.
So, whilst we wait to hear news confirming the next Bond, we know many of us will be waiting for the announcement that really matters…what will be the next Bond Car, what gadgets will it have, and will we ever get our hands on them?