The 5 worst James Bond cars
The James Bond franchise has been indelibly associated with debonair cool and flashy cars. The former has definitely bled onto the latter, ever since Goldfinger introduced audiences to the iconic Aston Martin DB5 that would become a Bond trademark.
Of course, 007 hasn’t always had the luxury of piloting a classic Aston, nor has the character been insulated from the nefarious schemes of cash-hungry producers and sweetheart product placement deals. As a result, the world’s most famous secret agent has, over the years, deigned to slip behind the wheel of several less-than-stellar modes of transportation.
Here are 5 of the worst Bond cars that ever made it to the screen:
Bajaj RE (Octopussy, 1983)
You probably haven’t heard of the Bajaj RE, because there’s a strong chance you’ve never had to hail a cab in Rajasthan, India, or flee from a deposed member of the Afghan royal family. This three-wheeled trike—which has been in continuous production for decades and is colloquially known as a “tuk-tuk”—somehow became the escape vehicle of choice for Bond in the 1983 film Octopussy, where it pulled off a series of unbelievable maneuvers during an entertaining chase sequence.
Still, no matter how effective the Bajaj RE was at keeping 007 out of the hands of evildoers, it remains perhaps one of the least-powerful (we’re talking well under 10 ponies here), unstable (three wheels, high center of gravity) and dangerous (no doors, often airborne) vehicles to have appeared in a Bond film.
1996 BMW Z3 (Goldeneye, 1995)
When it became public knowledge that the mid-1990s film Goldeneye would feature James Bond driving a BMW, traditional God-Save-The-Queen types folded themselves into pretzels frothing at the mouth at the concept of the British hero piloting a vehicle built by the enemy of two past Great Wars.
More to the point, however, Goldeneye‘s four-cylinder 1996 BMW Z3 is a bore, both in the real world and within the film’s fantastical universe. Not only do we fail to see any of the car’s supposed Q-division gear in action—no missiles, no guns, just a lame parachute—but it’s barely in the movie at all.
This is perhaps a blessing, because the Z3 didn’t benefit from six-cylinder power until 1997, meaning that the roadster was motivated by the weak 138-hp, 1.9-liter four-cylinder that was standard on American models the year before. That didn’t stop Neiman Marcus from selling a James Bond Edition of the 1996 Z3 with the same uninspiring drivetrain and virtually no upgrades other than various badges and plaques to remind you that yes, Bond drove this too… sort of.
Ford Mondeo (Casino Royale, 2006)
If you were to seek out an example of middle-of-the-road European transportation, chances are you couldn’t hit it on the nose better than the Ford Mondeo. Built to a price and sold to customers more concerned with value than performance, the Mondeo is a steady hand on Ford’s tiller that has birthed a few North American cousins in its time.
“Competent but not exciting” is fine for the average driver, but it baffles the mind that James Bond would ever willingly pilot the automotive equivalent of a brown paper wrapper. And yet, in 2006’s Casino Royale, Daniel Craig makes his debut as 007 by way of a five-cylinder, 220-hp, perfectly normal Mondeo 2.5 ST. Blame the cash-grab corporate synergy that dictated Ford’s “every sedan should have a starring role in a much-hyped franchise” flick.
Honda ATC (Diamonds are Forever, 1971)
The second three-wheeling 007 faux-pas to be found on this list is the Honda All-Terrain Cycle, or ATC. Remember back when every one of your rural-dwelling buddies had a an ATV trike to goof off with on the trail, right up until the point that those ATVs started killing people on a semi-regular basis due to the inherent dangers of an ultra-short wheelbase, three-wheeled design (plus all those sweet, but deadly jumps)?
Well, we can’t blame Bond for all those accidental deaths, but we can laugh at how ridiculous it was for Sean Connery to be riding around on one of these 7-hp, one-cylinder ATCs in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever.
Oh, and by the way, those goofy, bulging tires? They’re the only real suspension this early Honda has, so you can imagine how dicey things get due to uneven inflation, or really, under any circumstances whatsoever.
AMC Hornet (The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974)
One of the coolest James Bond stunts of all time was the barrel-roll river jump from The Man With The Golden Gun. The fact that it was accomplished with such an everyday car only detracts slightly from the technical accomplishment of the leap itself.
The 1974 AMC Hornet was nothing special—a malaise-ready, EPA-neutered two-door featuring at most 175 hp from a 360-cubic-inch V-8—but like the Mondeo, its use in the film was decreed from on high by way of a sponsorship agreement with American Motors. No one’s sure how much money AMC spent to have Bond remind moviegoers just how sad the automotive industry was at that particular point in time, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Hornet alive, as the vehicle disappeared for good in 1977.