After an 18-month hiatus, No Time to Die has finally hit theaters, bringing Daniel Craig’s tenure to 007 to a close by taking on an emotional and generally action-heavy detective adventure.
But although Carey Fukunaga’s take on James Bond — the 25th film in the centuries-old franchise — shows a decidedly different side to the iconic character (no spoilers, but M is called a “darling” at one point), No. Time to Die is still full of gadgets, gags and perhaps most importantly, eye-wateringly beautiful cars.
In light of Craig’s final bow, we’ve put together a list of the best and worst Bond cars in the franchise’s 60-year history—including models from Dr. No. to No Time to Die.
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BMW Z3 (Golden Eye, 1995)
Look, Goldeneye is unquestionably Pierce Brosnan’s best film — no, it’s one of the best in the entire franchise — but his ride, a sky-high BMW Z3, is Bond’s most forgettable film ever. It was the first BMW driven by the character, allowing the 007 to maximize the brand’s famous German engineering, but ultimately the car is simply driven to an airstrip and given to another agent – a whole lot of gadgets. (Stinger missiles, radar and an ejector seat) Q so carefully highlights in an earlier scene. If anything, the BMW Z3 was just a four-wheeled product placement.
Citron 2CV (For Your Eyes Only, 1981)
The Citron 2CV, powered by Roger Moore’s Bond in For Your Eyes Only, was affectionately known as “An Umbrella on Wheels” – and it’s easy to see why. In fairness, this yellow matchbox isn’t actually his in the film — but rather his female friend, Melina Havelock — and it forms part of an impressive chase sequence through rural Spain, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it might. The most non-Bond-like of them all is the Bond car.
Aston Martin Vanquish (Die Another Day, 2002)
Easy selection, this one. Die Another Day is considered not only one of the worst Bond movies (and certainly the worst of Brosnan’s tenure) but it also has one of the weakest Bond cars ever. This Aston Martin Vanquish might have been invisible to a start, and had wheel spikes, machine guns, and a handful of heat-seeking rockets that Bond, cleverly, deployed while skating on a glacier. It’s undoubtedly a beautiful machine, but tends to be let down by studios more interested in silly toys than in maintaining the series’ penchant for automotive elegance.
Sunbeam Alpine (Dr. No. 1962)
We at Nerdshala are all in for nostalgia, but just because the Sunbeam Alpine marked the first Bond car of the lot, it’s not a good one. It was short, slow and home to some terrible rear camera shots that have failed miserably with the test of time. Sure, it manages to spin its way off a cliff and into a ball of fire in a huge chase, but Alpine didn’t appear again in later films for good reason. Those white wheels were smart, at least?
Ford Mustang Mach 1 (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
Many would claim that Bond should never have set foot in an American muscle car—the 007, of course, is neither American nor particularly muscular—but the red Ford Mustang Mach 1 Forever driven in Diamonds by Sean Connery There is no problem in itself. The problem comes from how the car is used (or rather filmed) at the end of the film’s Vegas-based chase sequence. In a desperate attempt to evade capture, Bond slams down an alley to keep the Mustang on his two right wheels, only to re-emerge on the other side while the car is balanced on its left set. The producers clearly saw the error, but made the scene worse by adding an impossible car-rotating shot to justify the mistake. Sure, none of it was the car’s fault—but it’s a big part of an irreparable gaffe nonetheless.
Toyota 2000GT Roadster (You Only Live Twice, 1967)
In any other Bond film, a Japanese car might have seemed an odd choice, but the Tokyo backdrop of You Only Live Twice proved to be a fitting playground for Sean Connery and the Toyota 2000GT roadster. Often considered the first seriously collectible Japanese car and the country’s first supercar, the Roadster hits and roars through motorways and hills while maintaining the beauty of its cream exterior to the last. Even cooler — and rarer, in a Bond movie — the car spends most of its screen time being driven by the aki of Bond’s partner, Akiko Wakabayashi.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage (The Living Daylights, 1987)
A low-rated car for a low-rated Bond, Timothy Dalton’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage in The Living Daylights is nothing short of a supermodel of a machine, and possibly the best looking brown (brown!) car ever. Its gadgets were great too, delivering 007 lasers, rockets, and skis in a way that didn’t look fake (take notes, Die Another Day) as he and cellist passenger Kara traversed snowy Slovakia. If ever we need a confirmation of the car’s enduring legacy, the V8 Vantage returns to action in No Time to Die.
Aston Martin DBS V12 (Casino Royale, 2006)
A truly modern Aston Martin fit for the 20th century, the DBS V12 quickly became the envy of every feel-good Brit when Craig’s Bond set foot inside its suede-filled interior at Casino Royale. The car also put it through its paces, saving 007’s life with its built-in defibrillator and then nearly redoing it by somersaulting seven times through the Montenegro mountains – resulting in a Guinness World Record. And that results in a production bill of about $1.2 million. A black version of DBS V12 also appears in the opening sequence of Quantum of Solace, which is arguably the best of the film – a guess why.
Lotus Esprit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
You knew it was coming. For much of The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger Moore’s Lotus Esprit S1 is a decidedly unremarkable, ugly car—until he hauls it off a bridge and turns it into a submarine, that is. The car wields wings, propellers and a roof-mounted missile that somehow manages to shoot a helicopter out of the sky, before taking spectators on a picturesque aquatic journey through the waters of Sicily. It’s the most famous, most ridiculous scene in the film — and Pinnacle Moore — but nonetheless explored in the collective consciousness of ’70s Bond.
Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger, 1964)
It had to happen, wasn’t it? Not only is the Aston Martin DB5 Bond’s most iconic car, but it’s also the character’s most popular. After first appearing in 1964’s Goldfinger, the DB5 would appear in Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dice, Casino Royale, Skyfall, Specter and – spoiler? – No time to die. Three different 007 actors have driven the car, and each looks just as good as the last. The DB5 is everything Bond is, but in car form – stylish, elegant, aggressive, quintessentially British – and has become, undeniably, the vehicle face of the franchise. Anyone who gets a 007 mantle from Craig in the future, you can be sure we’ll see them roll into an Aston Martin DB5 at some point.
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