Five ways you can drive the same car as James Bond… on a $20k budget
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Bond cars are cool. But we don’t all want to drive a brand-new Aston Martin. Sorry, wrote that wrong: we can’t all afford to drive a brand-new Aston Martin. But no problem. Because Britain’s most famous fictional alcoholic misogynist spy has driven a huge range of vehicles in his movie history, so you can indeed drive a Bond car on a tight budget.
BMW Z3 (1995-2002)
A lot of things changed in Goldeneye (1995): a new Bond (Pierce Brosnan) and the first time a non-British car featured as hero transport.
The appearance of the Z3 was in fact the biggest product placement deal in history at the time.
But because Goldeneye was filmed so far in advance of the Z3’s actual launch, the car got less than three minutes screen time because it wasn't available for the production until late in the schedule. So no chance to see those stinger missiles and parachute braking system in action.
The other problem was that the Z3 wasn’t a very good car, which might have been why Bond almost immediately ditches it for a light plane in the movie.
But age has put the little BMW in the so-bad-it’s-good category. So enjoy – especially if you can get a 1.9-litre one in Atlanta Blue Metallic.
And next time you're choosing a compact rear-drive roadster Bond, stick with a Mazda MX-5.
Ford Mondeo (2006-12)
Fun fact: the first car Daniel Craig drives as James Bond on screen is a Ford Mondeo (in Casino Royale, 2006).
Like the BMW Z3 before it, this was a bit of product placement that had to be filmed so far in advance of the car’s launch, the vehicle featured on screen was hand-built by Ford and secretly shipped to the Bahamas where the scene takes place.
Because James Bond always goes to the Bahamas… and sometimes he needs a rental car.
Anyway, you don’t have to put up with a rattly, priceless hand-built Mondeo, because Ford mass-produced them in vast quantities after that.
For the ultimate in authenticity you’ll need the ST 2.5-litre model with the growly Volvo five-cylinder engine (it was called the XR5 in New Zealand).
Range Rover Sport (2005-13)
In Casino Royale, James Bond doesn’t so much drive a Range Rover Sport as deliberately smash one into a row of parked cars to create a diversion.
Still, a cracking moment and one important enough to get the Sport on the list of secondary Bond cars immortalised as a die cast model. So surely good enough to consider owning the real thing?
BMW 7-series E38 (1994-2001)
Delivered to Bond as a rental car by a hilariously Avis-jacketed Q in Hamburg, the Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) 7-Series got plenty of opportunity to throw its weight around in a parking garage car chase – as well as showcase its extreme security, remote driving capability (via Bond’s Sony Ericsson mobile phone) and BMW-emblem cable-cutter.
Seventeen different cars were used to film the chase scene, but you only need one to look the part. Technically it would need to be the super-luxury 750iL (or “seven hundred and fifty i-L” as Q would put it), but really any E38 in a sober colour will look the part.
Jaguar XJ (2010-19)
In Skyfall (2012), Bond slides a Jaguar XJ through central London (and clobbers a kerb at one point) as he helps M escape from Silva. They soon ditch it for an iconic Bond car, the Aston Martin DB5, as they head for Scotland.
Which is fine, but can a creaky classic really match the long-distance legs of a lightweight all-aluminium Jaguar limousine? Even if the left-rear wheel is a bit out of balance.
Wild card (and option six): Aston Martin DBS (2007-12)
Okay, this isn’t necessarily a $20k option – unless you can get a post-chase example like the one Bond totals in Casino Royale (setting a new world record for vehicle rolls – 7), or the one he pretty much totals at the start of Quantum of Solace (2008).
The takeaway is that James Bond is really hard on the DBS. So if you can afford one, try to look to after it.