Double-0-Seven and his Renault 11: Bond's Worst Cars
James Bond will be driving another Aston Martin in his latest movie, Spectre, but it’s not always been a smooth ride for the smoothest of spies
While the new Aston Martin DB10 will provide hugely ostentatious transport for undercover spy James Bond, ensuring that the secret service man arrives at any destination in a noisy, and no doubt tyre-smoke filled, blaze of overwhelming flamboyance, there’s a chance that Bond could appear in Spectre in something altogether less lavish, if previous films are anything to go by.
Having the keys to a British Secret Service owned fleet of BMWs wouldn’t seem to bad, but the partnership between the German manufacturer and the filmmakers was purely commercial. That meant that Bond got a Z3 in GoldenEye, with Q promising an array of gadgets to wow the audience. Special ‘Stinger’ missiles were fitted, apparently, along with other armaments, but we never got to see any of them. What we did get was a two minute cruise through the Caribbean that looked suspiciously like an advert.
It got worse in Tomorrow Never Dies, where Bond did a passable impression of a photocopier maintenance agreement salesman by borrowing a Secret Service BMW 750iL. At least the gadgets worked this time, but a large grey saloon isn’t the dynamic kind of model we expect to see 007 in.
The Man With The Golden Gun briefly drove an AMC Hornet, stealing it from a local showroom before getting involved in a chase across country. The car was terrible, but is remembered for being the one that did that jump. Bond managed to cross a bridge that had inexplicably broken in the middle leaving a spiral shaped ramp, performing a corkscrew through the air as he did so. The bad guys car then turned in to an aeroplane and flew away, no doubt to ensure that nobody though Bond’s stunt was too farfetched...
Even Bond’s Aston Martin models weren’t always what we’d hoped for. The Vanquish used in Die Another Day looked the part, although some would argue that it was a bit more of a grand tourer than the outright sports car Bond should be demanding, but it was Q’s special features that tipped this one into incredulity. Rockets popping out of the car are fine, and bonnet-mounted target—seeking machine guns pass the test too. Event the self-righting mechanism for use when you accidentally land the car on its roof passed muster, but a cloaking device that renders the car invisible? That’s a step too far.
As is Bond’s use of a Ford Mondeo in Casino Royale. The film marked the return of Bond after a four year hiatus, almost certainly intended to allow us to get over the use of Pierce Brosnan in the main role, but it also marked the launch of the fourth-generation Ford Mondeo.
Ford’s marketing team clearly weren’t too bothered about having their car involved in some plot-critical drama, but instead got a few minutes of Bond driving at a relaxed pace to the golf club. It’s not clear if Bond had golf clubs in the boot, or a Britax child seat in the back and a glovebox full of old receipts, but the scene firmly positioned the Mondeo as a car to get somebody from A to B with no excitement involved at all.
All of that pales in to insignificance when you consider what Bond drove in a View to a Kill. Granted, it was a car he commandeered from a taxi driver, but that’s still no excuse for making the Renault 11 a star of the screen.
Never has a car so mundane, so distressingly average played such an important role. It’s like heading out to a Michelin starred restaurant and ordering boiled potatoes. Plain boiled potatoes, with no sauce.
Some of the motoring industries worst cars go on to get a cult following. You can’t move for motoring journalists who own an Allegro, TR7 or BX, yet nobody lusts after the Renault 11.
The car was justly destroyed within minutes of Bond driving it. It’s perhaps no coincidence that it was also the last time Roger Moore appeared as 007.
Even James Bond couldn't make it cool.