Bonding with the wheels

Fictional spy James Bond has always been known for driving exotic, expensive and stylish cars. A selection of these beauties is now on view in London through the year

By: | Updated: March 21, 2016 12:33 PM

LAST YEAR marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Ian Fleming, the English author, journalist and naval intelligence officer best known for his James Bond series of spy novels. Incidentally, he had just lived long enough to see the first film in the Bond franchise release.

Even though Fleming had twice been a ‘Victor ludorum’ sports champion at Eton, he became a heavy drinker and smoker who died on August 12, 1964, from a heart attack at the age of just 56 years. It was just a month before the release of the third Bond film Goldfinger, which quickly followed Dr No (1962) and From Russia With Love (1964).

Today, fans are kept waiting longer for each new film. When Daniel Craig’s fourth 007 adventure Spectre is released on October 23, it will already be three years since Skyfall—and nine years since his debut with Casino Royale, based on Fleming’s first book, which he began writing at his famous Jamaican house, Goldeneye, on February 17, 1952.

The good news is that if you are the kind of person who always has the Bond bug, there’s a way of filling in the time, especially if you are in or happen to visit London this year. The London Film Museum has an exhibition called Bond In Motion, featuring some of the cars from the movies, including a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II from A View To A Kill.

Many are a tribute to the brilliance of Midland motor engineering skills at Jaguar and Aston Martin—the brand which will be providing a brand-new, limited-edition DB10 for Spectre.

A 2002, 155-mph 370-bhp eight-cylinder Jaguar XKR from Die Another Day features a rear mounted Gatling gun, door-mounted missiles, mortars in boot, rockets in fascia grille and extendable spears on the front bumper. What’s not to like? Die Another Day also featured an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, as well as a Bombardier MX Rev Ski-Doo.

The submarine Lotus is among the largest collection of cars and associated memorabilia from the 007 films ever assembled for an exhibition at the London Film Museum in the UK. There’s also the Rolls Royce Phantom III, with which the titular villain smuggled his ore in Goldfinger; Little Nellie, the kit-built autogyro (it’s not a helicopter) from You Only Live Twice; and the Mercury Cougar XR7 driven by Diana Rigg’s Tracy Vicenzo in On Her Majesty Secret Service.

And, of course, there is Bond’s Aston Martin DB5—not the original from Goldfinger in 1964—complete with machine guns, bullet shield and rotating number plates, which was sold for £2.6 million to Cincinnati car collector Harry Yeaggy in 2010. It’s the one driven by Pierce Brosnan, as a signal that the franchise was back and boldly rebooted after a six-year hiatus, in 1995’s GoldenEye.

The Mustang and the Tuk-Tuk are also part of the London Film Museum’s exhibition, which offers a chance to get up close and personal with some of the fantastic cars that have been a part of the Bond movies.

The exhibition is not limited to cars. Among the other items are the Acrostar BD-5J Jet from Octopussy, the Bath-o-Sub from Diamonds Are Forever, the Bell Textron Jetpack from Die Another Day and the Q Boat from The World Is Not Enough.

There will also be, among other things, a couple of Ken Adam conceptual sketches of the outlandish vehicles conceived for Moonraker, as well as a tanker chase sequence story board from Licence to Kill.

The London Film Museum will also display a whole host of other memorabilia from the Bond franchise, including miniature models, action sequence boards, vehicle concept art and props from all of the Bond films. One highlight of the exhibit will be a 1/3 scale model of Agusta Westland’s AW101 helicopter used while filming 2012’s Skyfall.

The popular exhibition is set to expand in 2015, with vehicles used in the making of Spectre—the latest Bond film—due to be added to the display sometime later this year.

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