When you think of James Bond’s cars you think Aston Martin, Lotus and an unfortunate foray into BMW (lets pretend that the Ford Focus farrago never happened). But what about the true Mr Bond who started life in the books, this 007 has a quite different car history.
When our favourite superspy first hit the shelves in 1953 Ian Fleming knew he needed some wheels that would reinforce his very British status and get him out of trouble in a hurry. The Blower Bentley complete with Amherst Villiers Supercharger was the obvious choice. It was obvious because these were the wheels famously driven by Mr Ian Fleming himself. This 4½ litre beast epitomised pre-war British motor racing and 007 drove one across the pages of Casino Royale, Live and Let Die and Moonraker. Bond bought the Blower in 1933 and had kept it in storage during WWII before eventually totalling it while chasing Drax’s Mercedes 300S across Kent.
The replacement was a 1953 Bentley Mark VI in battleship grey. Then, probably fed up with driving this tank of a car he fetches up in a Bentley Continental for Thunderball.
It’s not until Goldfinger that Bond finally enters into more familiar territory and borrows the MI6 motor-pool’s Aston Martin DB3 (I’m imagining that the current car pool at the Big Spy House in Vauxhall is slightly more humble). The Aston was also laden with gadgets, not yet quite as sophisticated as the silver screen versions, but it included a pistol hidden in a trick compartment under the driver’s seat, a homing device and a switch to alter the colour of the front and rear lights.
Bond then starts his search for something a bit more special. Fleming conceived a motor based on his two favourite cars – a Continental Bentley and a Ford Thunderbird. Bond took a Bentley wreck to Mulliners with £3000 in his pocket and they created a two-seater sports car. ‘Bond loved her more than all the women at present in his life rolled, if that were feasible, together.’
After Fleming’s death other authors have carried on the 007 legend. In the 80s, John Gardner brings Bond up-to-date and down-to-earth by giving him a Saab 900 Turbo (Bond as undercover architect if you will). The Saab, dubbed the ‘Silver Beast’, was modified for Bond by real-life company Communication Control Systems Ltd (not quite as memorable or as glamorous as Q but these were obviously austere times for M16). They’re good value at the moment so snap yourself up a Bond car while the going is good (only a bullet riddled 2CV is cheaper).
But it’s in William Boyd’s continuation novel, Solo, that Bond really gets his car mojo back. It’s 1969 and with his Bentley out of action, the Jensen Interceptor catches his eye. The salesman takes Bond around to the back of the Park Lane showroom and introduces him to the larger four-wheel-drive FF model. Bond was smitten.
‘Bond felt he was in a low flying plane rather than an automobile as he accelerated the Jensen…. If you needed a car to boost your ego, Bond thought, then the Jensen FF would do the job admirably.’