Aston Martin DB5, BMW Z8, Lotus Esprit: 10 Coolest James Bond Cars (Photos)

A new museum exhibit celebrates 50 vehicles with a license to kill, from the 1963 Aston Martin DB5 to the 1976 Lotus Esprit S1.

Everett Collection (2); Getty Images (1); beaulieu.co.uk

Everett Collection (2); Getty Images (1); beaulieu.co.uk

Given all the mayhem he has caused behind the wheel of a car, James Bond must have had a driver’s license to kill. And to commemorate a half-century of Bond movies, the Beaulieu National Motor Museum in the south of England just opened the largest exhibit of 007’s most iconic rides: 50 vehicles for 50 years. Featuring all the classic cars—including the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger and the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me“Bond in Motion” runs through December and includes the actual motorcycles, boats, and helicopters used in the films, even the crocodile submarine from Octopussy. All that’s missing is the spy who drove them.

Mary Evans / Ronald Grant-Everett Collection

1963 Aston Martin DB5

The ne plus ultra of James Bond’s automobiles, the Aston Martin DB5 was introduced in 1964’s Goldfinger, and came equipped with all the extras a spy could ask for—including rotating license plates, machine guns, a radarscope, and of course, an ejector seat. To show how far product placement in the movies has come, Aston Martin owner David Brown (the “DB” in DB5) originally asked the film’s producers to pay to use the car because he didn’t want to damage a £4,500 vehicle. Though destroyed in Goldfinger, the car lived more than once in Bond films—it most recently made a cheeky cameo in Casino Royale, when Daniel Craig’s 007 wins a 1963 Aston Martin DB5 in a poker game. The classic car also reportedly will appear in the 23rd Bond movie, Skyfall, opening in December.


1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1

In a classic chase scene from Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery’s Bond gets behind the wheel of Tiffany Case’s 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1, and the two evade police in Las Vegas—until he heads down a dead end. Thinking fast, they lean over, and then the car defies several laws of physics by driving down a narrow alley on two wheels. The iconic scene also contains a major Bond blooper—when they enter the alley, the Mustang is on its right tires, when they exit safely on Fremont Street, it’s driving on its left side.

Mary Evans / Ronald Grant-Everett Collection

1974 AMC Hornet X Hatchback

Though not nearly elegant enough to be issued to Bond by Q branch, the AMC Hornet was practical enough to steal when Roger Moore needed to chase Scaramanga through Thailand in The Man With the Golden Gun. The comical scene also features a return cameo for Southern Sheriff J.W. Pepper (from Live and Let Die), who rides shotgun with 007 for the most dramatic moment: when the car does a 360-degree mid-air corkscrew.


1999 BMW Z8

Bond is notoriously hard on his cars, but no 007 vehicle met quite as painful an end as the BMW Z8 Pierce Brosnan drove in The World Is Not Enough. It was sliced in half by a helicopter equipped with a tree-cutting saw. When the blade meets the car, Bond quips, “Q’s not going to like this.”

Everett Collection

1969 Mercury Cougar XR7

James Bond loves cars almost as much as he enjoys women, so it is fitting that the only love he marries—Diana Rigg’s Tracy Draco in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service—has a superb set of wheels. Tracy first drives the red Mercury Cougar XR7 onto a beach in Portugal before attempting suicide at the beginning of the movie, and it’s used later in the film when 007 is trying to escape Blofeld. Mr. and Mrs. Bond drive off in a different car, however, following their wedding—naively believing they have all the time in the world.

Dave Hogan / Getty Images

2002 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish

After a three-picture deal with BMW, Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond went back to an Aston Martin in 2002’s Die Another Day. And while the V12 Vanquish was equipped with some classic refinements—machine guns, rocket launchers, an ejector seat, and retractable spikes in the tires for driving on ice—it was car’s “adaptive camouflage” system that went a bit too far, even for a Bond film. The car disappears with push of a button, which is why the Vanquish’s MI6 codename is the “Vanish.”

Bentley Mark IV

In three of Ian Fleming’s novels, James Bond drove a 1933 Bentley “blower” convertible, equipped with a 4.5-liter engine and an Amherst-Villiers supercharger. (It also happened to be the very car Fleming himself drove—and posed with for the cover of Life magazine in October 1966.) But the Bentley only makes one appearance in the Bond film canon—when 007 takes Sylvia Trench on a picnic it’s in a Bentley Mark IV, a model that Fleming made up. And it’s equipped with a truly futuristic gadget for 1963: a car phone.


1937 Rolls Royce Phantom III

Strictly speaking, this is not James Bond’s car—it belonged to Auric Goldfinger—but the 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom III is one of the most beautiful vehicles ever to appear in a Bond film, and it plays an important role in the movie’s plot. The car’s bodywork is made of 18-karat gold, allowing Goldfinger to melt it down and smuggle his favorite substance across borders without suspicion.


Aston Martin DBS V12

What was intended to be a Ford GT for the opening chase scene in Quantum of Solace, evolved into an Aston Martin DBS, the same car Daniel Craig’s Bond drove in Casino Royale. It was a costly choice. Three Aston Martins—valued at $300,000 each—were destroyed during the filming of Casino Royale and six more reportedly were killed during the making of Quantum of Solace.

1976 Lotus Esprit S1

After the Aston Martin DB5, no Bond car had more imaginative modifications than the Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me. When Roger Moore’s 007 drives the Lotus off a pier while being chased, the white sports car instantly transforms into a submarine, equipped with fins, a periscope, and a surface-to-air-missile. In 2008, “Wet Nellie” sold at auction for £111,500.