Friday, 6 February 2015

The Cars of James Bond - Part One

And the prize for imaginative titling goes to... well, never mind all that - lets have a look at some of the cars that have made the series so memorable. From the submersible Wet Nellie in The Spy Who Loved Me to the Aston Martin DBS that made Quantum's opening sequence so memorable - so much better than the rest of the film, some might say... so here's Part One...

Dr.No; 1961 Sunbeam Alpine Series II

James Bond borrows the Alpine from the Jamaica Governor's Office for his assignment on the island. In the Novel John Strangways, the Secret Service Regional Control Officer drives a black Alpine. After Strangways' murder, Bond is horrified to be collected from Kingston Airport in the car – marking him out as being from the Secret Service. In the film, Bond drives a sky blue model (On loan from a resident of the island to keep filming costs down.)

Aimed at the lucrative American market, the famous Loewy design studios produced a sports car based on the Hillman Husky Estate car for the Rootes Group. A two seater convertible, with a hard top option, the Alpine series followed on from the Alpine Mark I and Mark III (There were no Mark II's for some reason) which were originally envisioned as rally cars. Echoing the design of the Ford Thunderbird, the little Alpine (Series II) packed a 1592cc engine with 80 brake horse-power. Fitted with the optional overdrive, the Alpine could hit just under ninety mph with impressive acceleration kept in check with Girling disc and drum brakes. The Series II benefited from reworked rear suspension.

TOP SPEED: 98.6 MPH/158.8 KMH
HORSEPOWER: 80 BHP
GADGETS: NONE
RATING: A LIVELY SPORTY CAR WELL SUITED TO EXPLORING JAMAICA, BUT NOT A GREAT 007 CAR... WE GIVE IT ONE GOLDEN BULLET;





From Russia with Love; 1935 Bentley 3½ Litre Drophead Coupe Park Ward

Bond's car makes a brief appearance in a picnic scene with early series girlfriend Sylvia Trench. The radio telephone and pager Bond uses were quite novel for the time.

A Rolls-Royce straight six engine with a high compression ratio, two SU carbs and a lively camshaft the 3½ Litre put out around 110 brake horse-power – enough for ninety mph. The Bentley had a four-speed box and the then novel synchromesh on the top gears, leaf springs and servo-assist brakes. A lightweight – for the time chassis was delivered to coachbuilders Park Ward. Founded after the First World War in Willesden, North London, Park Ward made high-standard steel bodies before being bought out and absorbed by Rolls-Royce in 1961 to become Mulliner-Park Ward.

TOP SPEED: 90 MPH/145 KMH
HORSEPOWER: 110 BHP
GADGETS: RADIO TELEPHONE
RATING: A REAL CLASSIC, BUT A MUSEUM PIECE EVEN AT THE TIME OF FILMING. BEST SUITED FOR PICNICS...


 
Goldfinger/Thunderball; Aston Martin DB5 coupe
Q-Branch has modified a DB5 for 00-Agents. Bond is issued his car by Q himself (Played, of course by the late Desmond Llewelyn.) and is lost for words when Q reveals the car has an ejector seat!.
Named for the Head of Aston Martin, David Brown, the DB5 was designed by the famed Milanese Carrozzeria Touring company. Featuring a 4 litre inline six-cylinder aluminium engine with a ZF 5-speed box the car was launched in 1963. Recliner seats, electric windows, twin tanks, a lightweight magnesium alloy body and leather-trim.


TOP SPEED: 145 MPH/230 KMH
HORSEPOWER: 282 BHP
GADGETS: (GOLDFINGER) TRACKING DEVICE, FRONT FIRING MACHINE GUNS, RETRACTABLE REAR BULLET SHIELD, EXTENDING RAMMING BUMPERS, RETRACTABLE TYRE SHREDDING DEVICE, ROTATING NUMBER PLATES-VALID ALL COUNTRIES, REAR SMOKE-SCREEN, REAR OIL-SLICK SPRAYER, PASSENGER EJECTOR SEAT (THUNDERBALL) DUAL REAR WATER CANNON. (NOT USED OR SEEN: RADIO TELEPHONE IN DRIVER DOOR/WEAPONS TRAY UNDER SEAT/RADAR BUILT INTO WING MIRROR)
RATING: WHAT ELSE COULD WE AWARD THIS ICONIC AUTOMOBILE?... THE CLASSIC 007 CAR.




You Only Live Twice; Toyota 2000GT
Bond's Japanese girl Aki works for the Japanese Secret Service and drives a specially-modified 2000GT fitted with communications equipment including a two-way Sony video circuit. Never officially offered as a convertible, two 'topless' models were made for the film. Two reasons are likely for this; visibility of the actors and Sean Connery being too tall for the hardtop version. A tonneau cover was fitted to hint at a (non-existent) folding roof.
Designed mainly by Yamaha, Toyota's 2000GT is widely considered the first Japanese supercar. Front engine, a two-seater with rear-wheel drive the car was a revelation. The image of Japan as producing stuffy, boring and functional cars was shattered by the GT's launch in 1965. Production models were made from 1967 with a straight six 2 litre, a double overhead cam and triple Solex double-carrel carbs. A five-speed box was offered with a limited-slip diff and no less than three drives to choose from to offer varying performance. Power disc brakes provided the stopping power.



TOP SPEED: 135 MPH/217 KMH
HORSEPOWER: (EST) 145 BHP
GADGETS: AUDIO/VIDEO COMMUNICATIONS SUITE
RATING: A SPORTY AND ELEGANT CAR, THE PERFECT CHOICE FOR THE SIXTIES SPY ON ASSIGNMENT IN THE EXOTIC EAST. MORE GADGETS WOULD HAVE SEEN A HIGHER RATING FROM US...




On Her Majesty's Secret Service; 1968 Aston Martin DBS Vantage


Bond's car is seen at the start and end of the film. The car is fitted with a take-down sniper rifle in the glovebox. Although not explicitly shown to be a Q-Branch car, a 1969 model is seen briefly in the Q-Branch workshop in Diamonds are Forever.
GKXBG MODIFIED IMAGE FROM ORIGINAL PHOTO COPYRIGHT TOM BRADNOCK
William Towns' design progresses from the earlier DB models, with a 4 litre straight six engine, double overhead cam and a five-speed box. Two cars were used for the film, with experimental engines that make it hard to determine performance. The claim to be a Vantage model is hotly debated amongst 007 fans, with the consensus here being it is not a true Vantage, but a modified DBS.

TOP SPEED: (EST) 150 MPH/241 KMH
HORSEPOWER: (EST) 325 BHP
GADGETS: GLOVEBOX FITTED FOR TAKE-DOWN SNIPER RIFLE
RATING: A MUCH UNDER-RATED CLASSIC, THE DBS WAS A PERFECT BLEND OF AMERICAN STYLING AND BRITISH ELEGANCE. AGAIN, THE LACK OF GADGETS MEANS A LOWER SCORE THAN SUCH A LOOKER DESERVES...




Diamonds are Forever; 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1
Driven by Tiffany Case, the vivid red Mustang is most probably meant to be a rental car. Up to five of these cars were used for filming, with a lively debate and ongoing search for original 'screen used' cars. One is in Australia, one in the famous Dezer collection and a third (a stunt car currently missing its drivetrain) in the Bond in Motion exhibit currently in London. The infamous two-wheels stunt is film lore; the car enters the alley on one pair of wheels, only to exit on the other. (This stunt was filmed in the World's biggest alleyway; starting at Universal Studios and ending in Las Vegas – it was re-shot due to the large crowds and even camera flashes going off that ruined the original take.)
Powered by a five-litre Ford Windsor V-8 302 with a three-speed Borg-Warner T-150 gearbox, the Mach 1 Mustang's 15.5 mpg fuel consumption made it one of the last pre-oil crisis muscle cars. Rather than being a unique vehicle, the Mach 1 was an otherwise standard Ford Mustang Fastback with a performance package and options ranging from air scoops to eight track cassette players.
TOP SPEED: 117 MPH/188 KMH
HORSEPOWER: 210 BHP
GADGETS: NONE
RATING: AN UGLY BRUTE, THE MACH 1 IS SEVENTIES-STYLE MUSCLE, BUT NO MATCH FOR SOME OF THE OTHER 007 CARS...


AGREE?, DISAGREE? - WHY NOT ADD YOUR COMMENT ON THE CARS OF BOND. 
For a fascinating in-depth examination of the Diamonds are Forever Mustangs, try this link;

http://www.isomustangs.org/Articles/TabId/122/ArtMID/483/ArticleID/43/WANTED-1971-Mach-1-Used-In-Diamonds-Are-Forever-part-2.aspx

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