Top Gear’s Richard Hammond on the Bond cars that send him to 00 heaven…

"Bond's Aston Martin showed us how the car itself could be another character in the story"




All of us owe the Aston Martin DB5 a debt of thanks: it’s the car that invented the very concept of Bond cars as we know them now. It was the Aston that showed us how the car itself could be another character in the story, could bring its own tricks and its own glamour to the big screen. It’s an indescribably beautiful thing, yes, but it was so much more than a pretty face. When Q told Bond the barest few details about the gadgets he’d crammed into his new sports car, little could he have known that he was opening the gates to a thousand imitators and a million schoolboys’ (and girls’) dreams of an ejector seat in the family Avenger, or spinning blades sprouting from their Anglia’s rusty hubs.


We all have a favourite Bond car. And it’s pretty much a generational thing. For me, it’s the Lotus Esprit. When Roger Moore drove it off a pier and into the sea in The Spy Who Loved Me with nothing more than a raised eyebrow and a dry quip to save him and his glamorous passenger from certain death, I knew that the next few weeks in the school playground would be spent pretending the wooden bench was the sleek, other-worldy wedge of the Lotus, sprouting fins and propellers, and that our hurled pencils were the torpedoes springing out of the back.

TOYOTA 2000 GT 1967

It’s hard to love the Toyota on the grounds of its movie performance: it drove about a bit and Bond used its onboard telly to watch a helicopter drop a car in the sea. Driving it while making our show, I was dazzled by how petite and jewel-like it feels up close. The one in You Only Live Twice was a convertible; a version that didn’t even exist at that point. When it turned up on set, Sean Connery couldn’t fit in the little coupé, so they contacted Toyota who, in just a fortnight, redesigned and engineered the car as a drop top.


50 Years of Bond Cars: A Top Gear Special is on tonight at 9:00pm on BBC2