I was sitting in our 2007 Aston Martin last night at work. Alone, with the lights appropriately dimmed after a long day at work. I did what anyone who slips into the leather- and wood-wrapped interior of an Aston Martin must do: I pretended to be James Bond. Albeit a slightly heavier set, disheveled James Bond with much less charm, to be honest.
Aston martin is synonymous with James Bond. The franchise has been intertwined (for the most part) for the past 50 years. Both are regal, sophisticated, dangerous and mysterious…and both wear their British heritage on their sleeves. I thought to myself: there must be other Bond cars. Lesser known cars. Unloved Bond cars. Bond can’t drive amazing cars all the time, he needs to show some respect to the taxpayers! Lets show some love to the lesser known Bond cars.
Car: 1962 Sunbeam Alpine
Movie: Dr. No
In the movie Dr. No (same name I called my dad when he would not let me do anything fun), James Bond drove this 1.6-liter 4-cylinder British sports car. Eighty horsepower, 2200 pounds of torque, top speed of 160 kmph, 0-60 mph in 13.4 seconds – respectable numbers. Small and nimble, these cars were successful race cars on both sides of the pond. Apparently, they used it because it was the only British sports car available during filming. Unfortunately, Sunbeam went through some hard times, was bought by Chrysler and saw its brand diluted to sad and offensive cars. RIP Sunbeam.
Car: 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7
Movie: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
This is what James Bond would drive if he were American. Its just as sporty as its Ford Mustang sibling, but more luxurious, mature and refined. Powered by a massive 7-litre, 8-cylinder engine, these cars were great for burnouts, loud noise and sketchy cornering. Imagine having a boat-anchor weight between your front wheels. These were built during the time where engineering a motor meant you needed to make it larger to go faster. If James Bond was American and Corvettes were scarce, this is the car he would drive. Mercury is also no longer with us because Ford went upscale and Lincoln got cheaper… paving the way for Mercury to throw in the towel.
Car: 1974 AMC Hornet
Movie: The Man With The Golden Gun
The 1970’s are widely regarded as the dark ages of the automotive industry. Oil embargo’s, recessions, 5 m.p.h bumpers, pollution control and people starting to notice shoddy quality all contributed to amazing cars getting neutered or snuffed out altogether. American Motors struck the deal with the filming company as part of a product placement program: “James Bond drives an AMC, so should you!” It really turned out to be, ”James Bond Drives an AMC, sucks to be him!” Like I said, these cars were not all bad, just a victim of current affairs. Ultimately, AMC survived another 13 years largely on the laurels of the Jeep brand. Chrysler bought them from Jeep, and folded the AMC.
Car: Citroen 2cv
Movie: For Your Eyes Only
Easily the car with the most character on this list, also my favorite. This was one of the longest production runs of any car 1948-1990. This car has existed in the same escargot form for 42 years and managed to still be relevant. The best part? The 2cv never made more than 29 horsepower. The 2cv has been used all over the world and was especially popular in Africa and South America where its solid build and comfortable handling was suited to rough roads in developing counties. Bonus marks for having a box style 2 cylinder engine that is air cooled. James Bond loves unique engines of all sizes! Citroen is still doing battle in Europe. They are doing quite well in there home market but the European economy has had its impact on everyone.
And there you have it. A brief history of the lesser-known bond cars as explained by a car enthusiast.