1963 ASTON MARTIN DB5
James Bond’s bespoke British grand tourer wasn’t just suave. It was also menacing, which likely had something to do with all that supercool spyware: pop-out machine guns and tire slashers, rotating license plates, and a smoke screen and oil-slick sprayer that (temporarily) foiled the baddies in hot pursuit.
Most memorable? Its fully functional passenger-side ejector seat, activated by a button hidden on the gear-shift knob—an audience favorite despite the fact that the villain flung from it barely cleared the top of the car. In 1964, Corgi made a toy die-cast model complete with machine guns and ejector seat and a little toy bad guy to launch from it.
The DB5 went on to appear in Thunderball, Casino Royale and many other Bond films, becoming synonymous with 007. Of the two DB5s actually used in the film (two others were used for promotion), the one originally kitted out with all the gadgetry has disappeared, stolen from a Florida airplane hangar in 1997. The other, used in road scenes and later retrofitted with the spy goodies, sold at auction in 2010 for $4.6 million.
1967 SHELBY MUSTANG GT500 FASTBACK ‘ELEANOR II’
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
When it comes to leading cops on a chase, few scenes can match the climactic one in Nicolas Cage’s star vehicle Gone in 60 Seconds. Eleven cars were custom-made for the film, only three of which were driveable. One of those three, the “beauty car” Cage drove in that infamous chase (sporting a not-too-shabby 400 horsepower Ford V-B engine and its much copied “Go-Baby-Go” shifter knob), sold for $1.07 million at auction in 2013. A few years earlier, the other two fetched roughly $200,000 and $100,000 respectively. A cottage industry has emerged selling replicas.
1976 LOTUS ESPRIT
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
James Bond’s Aston Martin may have helped him defend Queen and country with an impressive collection of spy gear, but could it … swim? The 10th Bond film featured a funky disco soundtrack, a leggy Russian spy and a villain with mouthful of metal. And if that wasn’t enough, it showcased “Wet Nellie,” a futuristic, wedge-shaped Lotus best remembered for the shocking moment when it dove into the water, sprouted fins and retracted its wheels—essentially transforming into a submarine. (Reportedly, the bubbles it left in its wake were created with a cache of Alka-Seltzer tablets.) When it motored back up on the beach, it morphed back into a proper car.
The Lotus earned its spot in the 007 sports-car pantheon in a distinctly sneaky way: Lotus’s PR manager, on hearing of a new Bond film in the making, strategically parked the striking vehicle outside the office of franchise producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, hoping to catch his attention. Apparently, it worked.
Two of the three coolest cars were James Bond vehicles. Not much is cooler than cars with weapons, ejector seats and that can go underwater. The Shelby Mustang is also a favorite. I had a Mustang in high school and my uncle owned a Shelby Cobra. Gotta love those muscle cars.
Two cars that didn’t make the list that would have made mine –
- The original Batmobile from the 1960’s Batman tv series
- Stallone’s ’50 Ford Merc from Cobra