Yesterday I was invited to the press launch of Bond in Motion, a new exhibition that showcases 50 vehicles in 50 years of James Bond films.
The exhibition, which opens on the 17th January 2012, is the largest of its kind staged anywhere in the world. What’s more, all of the vehicles are the originals.
Now you may be thinking that James Bond and PetrolBlog wouldn’t be the best of bed fellows and to be fair, you’d probably have a point. Indeed, when I arrived at the launch and noticed guests arriving by helicopter and a number of genuine celebrities, I began to wonder what I was doing there. Fortunately the sight of Richard Gunn’s delightful Austin Allegro helped me to feel at ease!
After half an hour of celebrity based nonsense and pleasantries, we were invited to take a look at the exhibition itself. Walking through the entrance tunnel, the first thing that greets you is a pair of Aston Martins. Rather predictably, there are a lot of Aston Martins on display and they certainly drew a healthy crowd. But this is PetrolBlog and so I’m going to concentrate on the more obscure and list my seven best 007 cars. Sadly, the Renault Fuego Turbo from A View to a Kill is not part of the exhibition. Boo.
First up is the Renault 11, another French classic from A View To A Kill. Admittedly, it’s not the entire car, because sadly, Roger Moore did his best to destroy the car through decapitation. But the 11 is a firm PetrolBlog favourite, especially in turbo guise, although we do prefer it with a roof.
Seeing the topless 11 has inspired me to do one thing though. There’s a neglected and almost dead silver Renault 11 parked up in my village. It’s been there for many, many years. I’m now determined to save what is fast becoming a rare beast and bring a little Parisian flair to the depths of Dartmoor. Complete with yellow fogs.
It’s probably fair to say that the producers of the James Bond films had something against French cars, as they seemed hellbent on destroying them. Four years prior to A View To A Kill, Roger Moore starred in For Your Eyes Only. Bond drove a Citroën 2CV and was being chased by henchman in a fleet of Peugeot 504s. Apparently four 2CVs were used during filming, although I’m sure far more 504s were killed in the name of entertainment. You can see the scene for yourself above. Two things strike me about the footage. Firstly, just how wooden and cringeworthy the scene is. Secondly, I now really, really want a Peugeot 504.
Oh, the bullet holes on the boot – they’re stickers.
I’ve always liked the BMW Z8. Yes, I know it’s not exactly a PetrolBlog car, but I just love the way it looks. And, thanks to it’s 400bhp V8 engine, it also sounds fantastic.
Sadly, the engine isn’t running on the Z8 that is part of the collection at Beaulieu, but at least it’s not cut in half, which is how it came to an end in The World Is Not Enough. If you’ll remember, the Z8 driven by Pierce Brosnan was sliced in two by a helicopter equipped with tree-cutting saws. Ouch!
Looking closely at the Z8, its battle scars are clear to see. The paint on the boot lid doesn’t match the rest of the car and is flaking off in places, plus the headlamp washer on the nearside front light is missing.
Still, at least it has a pair of surface-to-air missiles on the front wings. Just the thing if you’re finding the morning commute a little tiresome.
It’s another BMW up next and what is probably one of my favourite Bond cars of all time. For a start, it’s driven by my favourite Bond, Pierce Brosnan. But then it’s also the wonderful BMW 750iL, the only Q-supplied four-door saloon car. Legend has it that despite the 750 badges, the BMW used in Tomorrow Never Dies was in actual fact the 4.4 litre V8-engined 740iL. But whatever, it did have the capability to be driven via 007’s mobile phone, plus a set of missiles located where the ordinary driver would find a sunroof. And let’s not forget the brilliant if brutal high voltage security device that was used to deter would-be thieves. I think it should become standard fitment on all new cars as it would certainly allow us to sleep better at night knowing our cars are safe.
I wasn’t planning on featuring the Aston Martins, but then I’d forgotten about the sublime V8 Volante that featured in The Living Daylights. There’s just something so very 1980s about the V8 Volante and it’s a rather evocative sight seeing it being chased by the police across frozen ice fields. Timothy Dalton may not be many people’s favourite 007, but he did get to drive one of the coolest Bond cars ever.
The AMC Hornet featured in The Man With The Golden Gun is also on display at Beaulieu. It’s a relatively humble car, but it’s wonderfully well proportioned and I’ll admit to being smitten by the white stripes that adorn the Hornet’s bright red paintwork. It’s another Roger Moore car, this time being driven through the streets of Bangkok before performing a 360-degree mid air corkscrew jump across a river. This was apparently filmed in one take. Nice work.
I couldn’t conclude a list of my favourite Bond cars without featuring the Lotus Esprit S1. To my eyes, the original Esprit is one of Giugiaro’s finest creations. Nearly everyone of a certain age will have owned a model of 007’s Esprit in their childhood and will have spent time pretending to be Bond on their living room floor. Similarly, almost everyone will associate the white Esprit with its ability to transform into a submarine and escape its enemies under the water. But for me, it’s the sight of the Esprit being driven along the coastal roads of Sardinia that stirs my soul. It just looks so perfect and ranks alongside the ‘Miura moment’ in The Italian Job in terms of automotive point-in-time perfection. Fortunately for Roger Moore, there are no tunnels or Mafia henchman in The Spy Who Loved Me, leaving 007 to submerge into the depths of the sea before emerging on the beach, much to the amazement of the tourists on the beach.
So that’s my top seven. In total, there are 50 vehicles on display at the exhibition and those who want to get up close and personal with a James Bond Aston Martin or Jaguar will not be disappointed. Just don’t run away with the idea that you’ll see 50 cars at Bond in Motion. Instead, you’ll find boats, motorbikes, parachutes and personal aircraft. You’ll even see a cello case and a crocodile.
Writing this brief report has made me realise that despite Roger Moore being my least favourite 007, he did seem to drive the coolest cars. Who’d have thought that he’d be the most PetrolBlog of all the Bonds?
I’ll leave you with this photo of me that was captured during my formative years. I’ve let myself go a little since the photo was taken, but it was good to see it on display at Beaulieu.
The Bond in Motion exhibition opens on the 17th January 2012 and can be found inside the Beaulieu National Motor Museum in Hampshire.
Apologies for the poor quality images. It was incredibly busy and almost impossible to get a decent shot.
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