Can you imagine James Bond without cars? No car chases and no death-defying high speeds on the roads would have made for a very different franchise. Something about seeing the suave superspy behind the wheel added an element to the films that they simply couldn't do without. In fact, cars are such a quintessential part of the 007 franchise that when Daniel Craig became Bond, Aston Martin offered him access to any Aston Martin car at any time. Seeing the iconic spy go for a spin in one of their vehicles was great advertising. The film, the car company, and of course Daniel, all benefitted from that deal. In honor of the cars of 007, we've come up with a list of the twenty best cars in the James Bond Franchise (In our opinion, because let's be honest, they're all cool cars!).
20. 2011 Jaguar XJ-L in Skyfall
Skyfall was easily the most successful of the Bond movies. Ticket sales were over a billion dollars worldwide, proving that a spy from the 1950s can still be incredibly relevant today if he gets a few style upgrades. Naturally, a big part of that is the car. The 2011 Jaguar XJ-L he drives after kidnapping M is a big part of the iconic look of the film and character. Modern yet classic in all ways, James and the cars he drives have been around for more than half a century, and we won't be surprised if they're still going strong in another half-century. Of course, by then, we expect people to be part of the action through their VR headsets, but that's another story.
19. 1983 Renault 11 TXE
In 1985, Roger Moore's James Bond pursued Grace Jones through Paris in a Taxi. The car was so used and abused that when he'd finished chasing her, the car was quite literally in two pieces. It resided in a museum for many years until, in early 2019, the museum sold the pieces off. Any car that saw that kind of action deserves a spot on this list.
18. 1986 Audi 200 Quattro
Timothy Dalton drove the 1986 Audi 200 Quattro in 1987's The Living Daylights. He drove two different Quattros in the film. The first in Bratislava to help rescue General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) and get him out of the country. Later he drives the second Audi 200 Quattro, an Avant, in Tangier, Morocco.
17. 1970 Triumph Stag
For many, Sean Connery was the quintessential Bond. As cool car chase movies go, Diamonds Are Forever (1971) is packed full of great Connery Bond chases. The car he drove was the 1970 Triumph Stag. The particular model Sean drove happens to be one of a small handful of pre-production models created. It sold at auction and spent time in a museum in its original post-film condition. However, in 1998 the Bond Triumph Stag saw some upgrades. It was converted for unleaded fuel, the body got some work, and it was fitted with a new radiator.
16. La Salle Hearse
In Dr. No, this incredibly unique vehicle makes an appearance. James Bond never drives it, nor any other hearse as far as we can tell. Instead, it belongs to Three Blind Mice. In one particularly notable scene, the La Salle is forced over a cliff. In a bit of movie magic, and to save a somewhat unusual car from smashing into a thousand pieces, you can see it mysteriously change models from one shot to the next, becoming a Humber Super Snipe instead.
15. 1980 Range Rover Rapport Huntsman
This unusual convertible Range Rover Rapport Huntsman is no sporty little racecar. It's one of the more odd-looking cars to appear in the franchise, yet it certainly earns its place in 007 history. One of the secrets of this car is that it's a custom piece, so this convertible was just for the James Bond Franchise. However, lots of the Bond Range Rovers have unique histories. Some would later get stolen in real life, before ever reaching the set on Spectre.
14. 1967 2000 Toyota GT
1967's You Only Live Twice was one of our favorite Bond Films. The car he drove, a 2000 Toyota GT, was one of our favorite classic Bond-car looks. Something about the sleek, streamlined looks of the car perfectly suited James in a way we could easily see him driving today. The car is so classic that well-known car enthusiast Jay Leno has one in his collection, though not the one from the movie sadly.
13. 1957 Chevrolet Belaire
The stunning Balaire convertible in Spectre was driven by an assassin sent to kill James. The car itself is nostalgia worthy on its own. Yet, with the red interior, it looks like something a movie assassin should drive or a comic book villain. In real life, a hired killer would, however, probably choose something a little less conspicuous. It would be nice if real-world villains all had trademark villain-cars that made them so easy to identify, and even nicer if they came with the sort of background music that betrays their presence on film.
12. Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
We happen to be big fans of Aston Martins, and the V12 Vanquish is a stunning model, one of several that they used in the bond films. One of the fun facts about the Aston Martins is that, unlike many of the other vehicles that were donated to the franchise, initially AM made them buy the cars they used during filming. While they didn't mind being the car of James Bond, Aston Martin didn't want to give away their beautiful vehicles to watch them get wrecked up during filming.
11. Aston Martin DBS V12
There's no better way to say this. The Aston Martin DBS V12, as seen in Casino Royale, is a sleek, sexy beast of a car. It looks perfectly at home with the infamous agent 007 at the wheel. Daniel Craig was the lucky Bond who drove this car into the James Bond history books. Still, it was a deal with the Ford Motor Company, who was, at the time, the parent company for Aston Martin, which ultimately got the product placement in the famous movie.
10. Aston Martin DB5
Coming in at Number Ten on our list is this incredible Aston Martin DB5 that was driven in Goldfinger. The exterior details give the particular model a futuristic look even now. What makes this model so special is the gadgets. When Aston Martin built the car, they included all the working gadgets. We're not sure if the guns really shoot bullets, but they do pop out just as you see in the film. When you add that shiny silver, the car looks and drives like a bullet on wheels.
9. Ford Fairlane
Another incredible car from Die Another Day with Pierce Brosnan had to make the top ten on our list. The creme and brown convertible Ford Fairlane is a work of automotive art. Named after Henry Ford's estate, the Fairlane was a classic piece of Americana before it ever hit the set and became part of the Bond legacy. Fun Fact, Pierce Brosnan had a clause in his contract that forbade him from wearing suits in any other movie he was cast in while he played James Bond.
8. Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante
Even though many incredible Aston Martins make appearances in the Bond Franchise, this one is our final nod to the British Supercars on this list. What makes it so special? Well, it was incredibly difficult to get their hands on. The production team for 1987's The Living Daylights had to have this car for their set. Sadly, there was a year and a half long waiting list to get one, so they got clever and "sourced and bought" three used Vantage Volantes for the film, according to jamesbondfandom.com.
7. First Bimmer- BMW Z3
There's a first time for everything, and the first BMW to appear in the famed spy movie franchise was the BMW Z3. The car was considered a questionable choice at the time of filming because it was the first non-British car to grace the franchise, at least as the main cast's choices for transportation. We're not sure if other non-Brit cars were filmed in the background, though it seems likely. Fun fact- when the movie hit number one in the box office, sales of the Z3 spiked as well.
6. AMC Hornet X Hatchback (1974)
We can't be certain, you'd have to ask a 007 expert, but we're pretty sure the AMC Hornet X Hatchback in The Man With The Golden Gun is the first car we ever saw James Bond Steal. The unique role in Bond film history is the reason this particular car made our top ten. Before that, James always seemed to manage with the cars he already had, but this one he 'commandeered' with the passenger J.W. Pepper still inside, for a fantastic chase scene.
5. Bajaj RE (1983)
Also known as a TukTuk Taxi, the Bajaj RE in Octopussy is easily one of the best and worst vehicular moments in all of 007 history. While some would argue that it's the hands-down worst vehicle ever used in a Bond movie, we find the auto-rickshaw adorable and hilarious enough to give the fifth slot on our list. It is everything that James bond is not, and yet it brings it's own special flair to the scene, adding something that no typical taxi ever could. An element of humor, and completely apropos for the time and place in the film, we've always secretly wanted one of these weird little cars in our garage.
4. Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II
There's nothing about a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II that is anything short of elegant and outstanding. If you're making a list of truly spectacular cars for any reason and a Silver Cloud is an option, then it belongs in the top five. James Bond rarely, if ever, has a chauffeur in any movie. Being driven around in a 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II by Sir Godfrey Tibbett in 1985's A View to a Kill is the only time we can think of when James doesn't do the majority of his own driving save the odd cab ride. Roger Moore surely must have enjoyed kicking back and relaxing in the stunning Silver Cloud when he wasn't fighting for Queen and Country.
3. Ford Mustang Mach 1
One of the most oddly memorable and utterly un-British scenes in all of Bond-dom has to be Sean Connery and Jill St. John, driving around Las Vegas in a Ford Mustang in Diamonds are Forever. The cultural disconnect from the classic British super spies origins managed to work out well given his globe-trotting profession. Perhaps only Sean Connery could have driven such a supremely American icon into a completely British character's repertoire and pull it off with such aplomb. Of course, he's not British either given the fact that Mr. Connery is from Scotland.
2. Lotus Esprit S1 (1976)
We could easily have given the 1976 Lotus Esprit S1 the top spot. As the most well-loved and most often remembered car in the James Bond movies, it's worthy of the spot. This was the car that was not only in a high-speed auto chase, but also flew and dove into the ocean. Though it may not be the most high-performance car ever used on a 007 set, it is the car that performed the most amazing tricks in all the Bond movies.
1. The First- Sunbeam Alpine
What car could possibly top the Lotus Espirit? The answer is simple. James Bond's very first car. The Sunbeam Alpine started it all, and without this vehicle, the whole series might have gone very differently. Superspies and cars are synonymous because of the silver screen contribution of this one car. Regardless of what you consider the "Omega," it is the Alpine that will always be the "Alpha."
Action movies need high speed chases like banks need change drawers. Sure, they could function without them, but things would be a lot more complicated, and they'd move much more slowly. James Bond, in his many incarnations, has driven a plethora of fantastic cars over the decades. Whatever order you put them in, they're all exceptional. (Yes, even the Bajaj!) Which car from the 007 series is your all-time favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith