Bond film rides that define their decade

Larry Printz
Tribune News Service

Ask anyone what car fictional British secret agent James Bond drives, and the most likely response will be, “Aston Martin.” In the novels on which the films are based, however, author Ian Fleming’s secret agent preferred Bentleys.

But in the films, 007 has found himself piloting everything from a 1967 Toyota 2000 GT to a 1974 AMC Hornet; each decade found him piloting the car that defined its time.

Let’s have a look.


■1963 Aston Martin DB5

■Starred in: “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball”

■About the car: Introduced in 1963, the DB5 was derived from the DB4, introduced in 1958. It used Superleggera (super-light) aluminum construction and a 325-horsepower 4-liter six-cylinder engine. Producers had to twist the automaker’s arm just to loan them a car, as Aston couldn’t spare one because of its shaky financial position. Once the film appeared, and demand exploded, that was no longer true.

■Why it matters: Sensual, sophisticated and spirited, like the ’60s.


■1976 Lotus Esprit

■Starred in: “The Spy Who Loved Me”

■About the car: This wedge-shaped automobile, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign, was the first of many similarly shaped sports cars. Uniquely, the body boasted paint impregnated into the fiberglass body. A 2.0-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine was mounted behind the seats and ahead of the rear axle. This mid-engine layout caused problems for the film’s stunt drivers, so Lotus supplied drivers.

■Why it matters: Oddly sexy, just like the 1970s.


■1985 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante

■Starred in: “The Living Daylights”

■About the car: Despite success in the 1960s, the ’70s and ’80s found Aston Martin failing financially under a series of owners. The 1985 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante wasn’t modern, but still possessed sultry looks, a 370-hp 5.3-liter V-8 and the Aston badge. The car connected Timothy Dalton, the newest Bond, with the past. Aston, still struggling to stay afloat, welcomed the attention.

■Why it matters: Just as President Reagan alluded to past glories, so did the car.


■1995 BMW Z3

■Starred in: “GoldenEye”

■About the car: Although the Mazda Miata revived the idea of lightweight, two-seat European roadsters, the BMW Z3 was no imitation. Although it derived 140 hp from its four-cylinder engine, it delivered slot-car-like handling. It felt more like strapping on an engine than getting into a car. In every way, it felt like a modern rendition of a classic old roaster.

■Why it matters: It was the Clinton era; we were all having fun again.


■2002 Aston Martin Vanquish

■Starred in: “Die Another Day”

■About the car: Making extensive use of aluminum and carbon fiber, the V-12-powered Vanquish produced 460 hp through a six-speed manual gearbox. But it was the end of an era, being the last model made at its famous Newport Pagnell, England, factory.

■Why it matters: Just like 9/11: The end of one era, the beginning of another.

2010 and beyond

■2016 Aston Martin DB10

■Starred in: “Spectre”

■About the car: Looking to create a modern rendition of the 1963 D5 without resorting to retro design, Aston Martin distilled the essence of its design language into a pure, modern form. The car is based on the V8 Vantage, with a 4.7-liter V-8 that generates 420 hp and a top speed of 190 mph.

■Why it matters: A classic new Aston for a new type of Bond.