Bond, James Bond, returns soon to silver screens in North America (Nov. 9), though the new Bond film Skyfall has already had its Royal Albert Hall debut in England.
I have not seen the movie, but I will. I remain a Bond fan, as well as a Bond car fan and, yes, a Bond girl fan, as well.
Those who have seen Skyfall, including William Bradley of the Huffington Post, report that the latest Bond film villain, Raoul Silva (Oscar-winner Javier Bardem), is a delicious mixture of taunts and cruelty. Daniel Craig may be the best Bond ever – better even that the inestimable Sean Connery – but it's the villains, the women and the cars that have made Bond films so utterly memorable. Taunts? As Bradley writes, Silva digs at Bond in the best Goldfinger tradition in this latest Bond extravaganza: "England, the Empire, MI6 ... You're living in a ruin. It's over. Finished. What are you doing clinging to this notion of nation?"
So that's the villain in the 23rd Bond film directed by Sam Mendes of American Beauty fame. Bond girls? GQ magazine has put the latest Bond femme fatale, Sévérine, (played by French model/actress Bérénice Marlohe), on its "Lust List." GQ's take: "we like her shaken, not stirred."
This brings us to the cars, the most famous of which is the 1963 Aston Martin DB5 from 1964's Goldfinger and 1965's Thunderball. The DB5 is back. Britain's Top Gear has some tidy footage. The DB5 was a stunning hit in the movie, so much so that as The New York Times has reported, the car sold at auction to Ohio businessman Harry Yeaggy for $4.6-million (U.S.) in 2010 – along with Goldfinger's 1937 Phantom III Rolls-Royce.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Skfall begins with a classic chase. Bond and another agent drive a Land Rover in pursuit of an Audi A5, before moving on to motorcycles, rooftops, a train and even earth-moving machinery. All in that one opening sequence. Eventually, Bond takes the DB5 out of mothballs, machine guns, ejection seat and all. I can't wait to see all this, though the Journal does warn collectors of a bad end for that DB5.
Naturally, Bond fever had me thinking about the best Bond cars of all time. James Riswick of edmunds.com has done all of us a favour by putting together a list of the top 10 Bond cars of the past 50 years. Riswick has also included behind-the-scenes tidbits that will tantalize and titillate Bond fans and gearheads alike. Here's Riswick's list. Do you Bond fans agree?
1. Aston Martin DB5 – Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall. Sean Connery drove a Sunbeam Alpine in Dr. No, notes Riswick, but he graduated to a DB5 very quickly. "The overwhelming publicity generated for Aston Martin by Goldfinger is a major reason such placement deals exist today," writes Riswick.
2. Lotus Esprit S1 – The Spy Who Loved Me. The Lotus does the obligatory chase scene and also does duty as a submarine, too. Riswick offers some wonderful insights into the chase scene featuring the Esprit, too.
3. Aston Martin V8 Vantage – The Living Daylights. Almost no one liked Timothy Dalton as James Bond, but the V8 Vantage held its own with a 5.3-litre, 370-horsepower V-8. Check out the mountain chase scene; the winter conditions feature prominently.
4. BMW 750iL – Tomorrow Never Dies. Pierce Brosnan was the Bond driving BMW's V-12-powered flagship sedan. Brosnan steers the car via remote control from the back seat during a memorable chase filmed in a parkade.
5. Mercury Cougar XR-7 – On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Bond girl Diana Rigg played Tracy di Vincenzo, the daughter of a Mafia-like figure and she drove an XR-7 in ways that had Bond (played by the lamentable George Lazenby) gazing on with a mixture of lust and admiration.
6. Lotus Esprit Turbo – For Your Eyes Only. The red sports car with gold wheels, notes Riswick, is just so cool.
7. Toyota 2000GT Roadster – You Only Live Twice. James Bond (Connery) doesn't drive this one; Japanese agent Aki does. She comes to a sad end, but not because of the car. As for the car, Riswick notes that Toyota didn't actually sell a 2000GT roadster at the time. The story behind the solution is all about the magic of movies.
8. Ford Mustang Mach 1 – Diamonds Are Forever . Bond in a Mustang? Yes, and right beside him is the delicious Tiffany Case (Jill St. John). The car belongs to Case and was powered by a 7.0-litre 375-hp Cobra Jet V-8. Riswick also highlights a famous continuity error in the film, one involving this very Mustang. You Bond aficionados know what I'm talking about.
9. BMW Z8 – The World Is Not Enough. The Z8 here was styled by then-BMW designer Henrik Fisker. Fisker went on to work on the Aston Martin DB9 and now heads up electric car company Fisker Automotive. The BMW is a stunner that sadly comes to a bad end in the movie.
10. Aston Martin DBS – Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Daniel Craig's Bond crashes this Aston while trying to rescue Vesper Lynd (played by the stunning Eva Green). Watching the DBS roll and roll and roll and roll some more, tumbling and bouncing across a damp road and into the grass – it made me cringe.