License to drive: Best cars from James Bond films
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To help celebrate the golden anniversary of the franchise – the first James Bond film Dr. No premiered 50 years ago – we’re revisiting our fan-crazed selections from earlier this year for what are arguably the best 007 vehicles of all time.
Note: Car nuts and 007 aficionados alike can still check out the “Bond in Motion” exhibit at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, England (about 87 miles southwest of London). This exhaustive aggregation of 50 of the most recognized 007 vehicles – including ones from the 23rd film in the series, Skyfall –runs through January 6, 2013.
Aston Martin DB5
First seen in the 1964 film Goldfinger, the venerable DB5 is arguably the car that’s inexorably associated with James Bond. A luxury grand touring car produced between 1963 and 1965 that came powered by a 282-horsepower 4.0-liter engine, the DB5 packed such then-upscale amenities as reclining seats, wool pile carpets, electric windows, chrome wire wheels, full leather upholstery and even a fire extinguisher. The DB part of the car’s name stands for David Brown, who owned Aston Martin throughout much of its post-WWII glory days.
Bond’s version featured such essential secret-agent accessories as a front-firing machine gun, passenger-ejection seat, smoke screen, oil slick dispensers, a bulletproof barrier, revolving multinational license plates and front and rear retractable ramming arms. It also came with extendable wheel hubs that could disable an adjacent vehicle by slashing its tires. The durable DB5 also saw duty in Thunderball (1965), GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and Casino Royale (2006); it was even used as the basis for the spy character Finn McMissile in the 2011 animated film Cars 2.
As seen in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, the low-slung Lotus Esprit served double duty as an on-road sports coupe and a compact submarine. Roger Moore’s 007 takes the Esprit deep below the surface to engage in a reconnaissance of the villain’s underwater facilities. As if that’s not enough, the Esprit was also handily equipped with anti-aircraft missiles, which Bond subsequently uses to blow a helicopter out of the sky. For its submerged skills the cinematic version of the vehicle earned the nickname “Wet Nellie.”