If there’s one thing that defines a James Bond film, it’s what car he drives. Being the suave and sophisticated man he is, you’ll always find 007 driving a car that typifies the high-end models of the era in which it was released. In the mid-to-late 1980s the role of Bond was played by Timothy Dalton; though his two efforts averaged the lowest box office out of all actors to have donned the tuxedo (even George Lazenby fared better in his one appearance) it’s Dalton’s appearances as Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill that most closely resemble the brooding, intense Bond of today that film audiences have flocked to see.
With those vastly underrated performances in mind, let’s take a look at those other landmarks of movie history; Bond’s cars from 1987-1989.
Aston Martin V8 Volante The Living Daylights was the first Bond film since 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to feature an Aston Martin. Having souped up Roger Moore’s ride with a Lotus Esprit – although the submersible version wasn’t on general sale – the classic British manufacturers returned with the V8 in 1987. There is some confusion within the film, however; although Bond appears to be driving the same car throughout the film, in later scenes after some modification from Q the original V8 Volante car is “winterised” to be driven in colder conditions. However, although the licence plate remains the same, the original car has in fact been switched for a V8 Saloon! To further the confusion, it seems that a third car was used in stunt sequences, although this is a different make entirely.
Added Bond gadgets include skis, a missile launcher and lasers; however sadly for car enthusiasts it also comes with a self-destruct system which Bond used when the car got snowed in. When intact though it’s a beautiful piece of machinery. Kenworth Truck Not exactly the high-rolling vehicle that Bond fans come to expect when they see the latest releases, but the Kenworth model 900B has its own impact on Bond history. When the baddie escapes with a tanker full of drug-laced gasoline off which to make a fortune, Bond is hot on his tail – resulting in a fair few stunts that an ordinary Kenworth wouldn’t be capable of due to its sheer mass. Three different trucks were modified to be able to pull off these tricks – the one being ‘driven’ by Bond Girl Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) was actually being steered by a crewman from behind the cab, while a second and third were fitted with hydraulics that rendered them capable of popping a memorably vicious wheelie and even driving upright on two side wheels only.
One of the trucks is currently under the care of the Ian Fleming Foundation; this along with a number of other memorable Bond cars is on exhibition here in the UK to celebrate 50 years of 007.