Bond girls drive all the best cars
As Skyfall fever rages, the boys are all talking about Bond cars, lusting over the Aston with the ejector seat or wondering about how they made that Lotus drive underwater in the days before CGI. But I reckon some of the best cars were driven by the Bond girls.
In Goldfinger (1964), Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet) roars around the serpentine bends of the Furka Pass in a Ford Mustang Convertible, when that iconic pony car had only just been released. Unfortunately she drives like a maniac, hoots at Bond and harries his gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5 for no good reason at all. If I’d had a scythe on my wheels I’d have burst her tyre too.
Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), looks like a Japanese Audrey Hepburn in You Only Live Twice (1967). She swoops in to rescue Bond in a chic Toyota 2000 GT roadster and as the bad guys give chase, she calmly gets on the radio to request ‘the usual reception’ (a helicopter and a large electro-magnet). The Toyota was only ever sold as a coupe - unless you count the Corgi version – two cars had their lids snipped specially off for the film.
Another skillful Bond-lady driver was Diana Rigg, having followed her fellow leather-clad, karate-chopping Avengers’ star Honor Blackman to the Bond franchise in 1969. Such a shame she got landed with warty George Lazenby for rather than yummy Sean Connery for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It’s a great film, but could have been so much better.
As the troubled Tracy di Vicenzo, the lovely Di drives a real Yankee muscle car, a 1969 Mercury Cougar and, like Aki, she rescues Bond and whisks him away for a serious car chase to escape pursuing SPECTRE agents. This involves veering off the road, mixing it with rally cars and driving on ice – and Diana did a great deal of the driving herself.
Roger Moore’s Bond was a bit of a MCP when it came to lady drivers. In The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) he was very snippy with poor old Agent Goodnight (Britt Ekland) as she picked him up at the airport in her MGB Roadster (painted a very period vomit colour).
He raises his famous eyebrow as Any Amasova (Barbara Bach) struggles with the gears of a van that’s being eaten by a comedy character with metal teeth in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). In For Your Eyes Only (1981) his “I think I’d better drive” to Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) as he takes over her 2CV should have earned him a swift stiletto in the backside.
Pierce Brosnan made a suave Bond, pity his scripts were so dire. They gave him the classic Aston to drive in Golden Eye (1995), while the nasty Xenie Onotopp (Famke Jansson) drove a Ferrari 355. Of course she’s driving like a maniac, but somehow his 1960s’ DB5 manages to catch her 1990s’ Italian stallion.
There’s never been a better driving double-act than the motorbike sequence in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Bond (still Pierce) and Chinese agent Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) managed to dodge a helicopter while handcuffed together and operating one set of controls each. It’s even quite sexy, as she has to cuddle him tight to stay on.
For Die Another Day (2002) Halle Berry’s character Jinx is seen with a new-style Ford Thunderbird, but only long enough to justify Ford releasing a 007 special edition. The film car was all coral pink, while the road car had a contrasting white roof. It’s a colour scheme that would only work in America.
So we come to back Skyfall, or skyfaw as Adele would have it, to rhyme with ‘as we crumbaw’. Spoiler alert! Eve (Naomie Harris) hurtles around in a Land Rover Defender 110 Double Cab Pick Up. Her character is clearly a fine driver, but there’s still time for some sarky remarks from Bond about her loss of wing mirrors (“You weren’t using it”, “or that one”) Then he calmly leans over to yank the steering wheel. Shooting him was a bit harsh, though.