The James Bond film series is known for its repetitive elements. There’s always some witty banter with Q about new gadgets, for example, and we all know about the excitement that surrounds each new “Bond Girl” and each film’s introduction song. Another element that’s always of great interest to fans is the “Bond Car,” which is usually at the cutting edge of the automobile industry.
Ranking the best of these cars over so many years of film is a very subjective process. There is no “best” Bond car by any exact definition (though I suppose the latest would likely offer the highest quality performance), and people’s preferences will always differ. Some, at this point, love looking back on the older Bond cars that are now considered vintage. Others love nothing more than the latest and most impressive vehicles that Daniel Craig has been whizzing around in as 007 for the last few years.
At any rate, in celebration of the release of Spectre, here’s a look back at what I’d list as the top-10 Bond cars . . .
10. Aston Martin V12 Vanquish – Die Another Day
Telegraph’s look at the best and worst Bond cars summed this one up pretty well: it was a bit of a gimmick, but it kind of worked within the context of the somewhat silly film. The V12 Vanquish is an undeniably gorgeous car, trending a little more toward luxury than sportiness, and its invisibility feature was actually a fun twist in this film (though not a real one, of course).
9. Citroen 2CV – For Your Eyes Only
This might be the most modest car Bond has ever driven, and it makes the list because it was a blast anyway. The little yellow car, reminiscent of a VW Bug, is known to Bond fans from one of the more unique chase scenes in the franchise, even if the car itself is decidedly unremarkable.
8. Sunbeam Alpine Series II – Dr. No
This sleek, blue, vintage convertible is the first car Bond ever drove, and while it’s not up to the unbeatable performance of later, Q-altered automobiles, its pure class suited the spy in his early days. It’s also got a pretty interesting story: according to 007 James, the actual car used in the film was borrowed from a Jamaican local to save money.
7. Aston Martin DB5 – Goldfinger
The DB5 has been used in a few Bond films (more on that later), but the version in 1964’s Goldfinger is iconic for its own reasons. Basically, it was the first full-fledged “Bond Car” in the sense of how we now recognise it: sleek, classy, fast, and filled to the brim with ridiculous gadgets. It was the first Bond car to make use of an ejector seat—need I say more?
6. Ford Mustang Mach 1 – Diamonds Are Forever
This one is not your typical Bond car, featuring a bit more muscle than flash, but its chase scene in Diamonds Are Forever is one of the most memorable. It might rank higher on the list just for that scene, but Mustangs have appeared prominently in a lot of films, and it really doesn’t feel exclusively like a Bond car.
5. Toyota 2000 GT – You Only Live Twice
Again, not a classic Bond car, but one of the more impressive vehicles to make it into the series. Gala Casino’s Bond car showroom reveals that there were actually a few unique cars used in the filming of You Only Live Twice, including a delightfully mafia-esque Cadillac Fleetwood 75. But it was the Toyota 2000 GT that stood out as a sleek, gorgeous, and at the time almost-futuristic car.
4. AMC Hornet – The Man With The Golden Gun
Truth be told, the AMC Hornet looks in retrospect like any other high-powered red sports car, so it blends in a little bit. But in my opinion it was the source of the most spectacular stunt move in 007 history when Bond jumped it over a fairly wide river while doing a barrel role. Even cooler: Road & Track’s look at the best Bond cars reveals that this stunt was actually performed in a single take by a stunt driver who’d never done it before!
3. BMW Z8 – The World Is Not Enough
There isn’t a particular reason I’m ranking this car so high on the list, other than that it was kind of a perfect blend of Bond car elements. The whole Brosnan Bond era feels like something of a bridge between old and new Bond styles, and the car fits right in with that description: stunningly beautiful but with vintage BMW elements that recall older times.
2. Lotus Esprit S1 – The Spy Who Loved Me
I’ve actually always found this one to be somewhat overrated. Lotus is one of those brands with an unrivaled reputation for performance whose old cars just didn’t look that cool. But it ranks high on the list because it doubled as a miniature submarine, and that’s about as Bond-like as a car can get.
1. Aston Martin DBS – Casino Royale
Vintage lovers won’t agree, but in my opinion Daniel Craig’s first Bond car is the most beautiful in the whole series. The DBS we saw in the 2006 film is something like a sportier version of the Vanquish from Die Another Day. It’s a perfect blend of sophistication and muscle to match Craig’s take on the Bond character. Also of note: Edmunds reveals that the metallic grey colour of the car is actually now called “Casino Royale.”
That’s my take on the top-10 cars from this incredible action series. Although, I’m not so sure I won’t have to craft a new list soon, given the ridiculous appeal of the new Aston Martin from Spectre!