One of the defining aspects of Bond films is that year after year, film after film, there are certain Bond hallmarks that we know we can rely on. There are always going to be girls, there are always going to be gadgets, his martinis come “shaken, not stirred” and it’s not simply “James Bond,” it’s “Bond, James Bond.” Another standby are 007’s modes of transportation, which range from the latest and sleekest in British automotive design— customized for Bond’s intrepid lifestyle, of course—to other various craft that we as viewers can only dream of getting behind the wheel of.
In celebration of Bond’s 50th anniversary, we picked the 10 coolest vehicles Bond has chased and been chased in over the years.
When Scaramanga is on the run in The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond is forced to steal an AMC Hornet from a dealership to stay on his trail. When he comes across a broken bridge in the midst of his pursuit, he’s left no other choice but to gun it, resulting in a stunning corkscrew jump that, of course, lands with grace.
An invisible car? Even that’s too ridiculous for Bond, right? Never were the bounds of physics stretched further, however, than during Pierce Brosnan’s four-film tenure as 007. The rationale behind the Vanquish’s ability to vanish was that microscopic cameras covering the car could project the images filmed from the car’s opposite side, rendering it invisible. Works for me! And though it seems unreal, the idea of an invisible car is more plausible than you might think.
Over the years, Bond’s cars have been able to pull off just about every feat imaginable, including the ability to sprout side skies and slalom across a snowy plane. Bond’s rocket-boosted Aston Martin snow coupe was one of the only takeaways from the mostly forgettable The Living Daylights.
A mini-boat disguised as a crocodile? Bond will go to whatever lengths necessary to get the job done. In Octopussy he crams himself inside the croc to reach the title character’s palace undetected. And if he needs a better view? The crocs mouth opens up so Roger Moore can pop his head out for a better look.
This car is involved in the series’ very first chase. Bond is paying a social visit to Miss Taro, the fetching government secretary, which requires a scenic drive around a hillside along the Jamaican coast. Little does he know, but Miss Taro is also working for Dr. No and has purposely lured Bond to visit her. A car full of henchmen lie in wait, and chase Bond down the mountain before eventually careening over the edge of a cliff and tumbling to a fiery demise. When Bond arrives at the house unscathed and unperturbed, Miss Taro can barely conceal her shock.
Bond is prepared for anything and everything that could possible come his way. When a leisuerly gondola ride down a Venice canal turns deadly, Bond is fortunate to have his gondola custom-rigged with not only a motor, but hovercraft capabilities, in case he needs to hop out of the water to escape his pursuers.
After Bond and Natalya are captured by the Russian police, they make a daring escape through the national archives. Natalya is recaptured, while Bond commandeers a tank, taking it on a destructive spree through the streets of St. Petersburg in pursuit of Ourumov. Once he realizes the tank is unstoppable and fires off a canon round, Pierce Brosnon cracks an amused smile, proving that even under duress, Bond always knows how to have a little fun.
This isn’t a normal Lotus we’re talking about here, of course. Bond’s custom Esprit S1 in The Spy Who Loved Me has pop-out fins and rudders that allow it to cruise around underwater like a submarine—perfectly convenient if the villain you happen to be pursuing operates out of an underwater base called Atlantis or if you’re being chased off a dock by a helicopter.
To investigate the supposed location of a ship that highjacked a U.S. spacecraft, Bond employs the use of a collapsable mini-helicopter, the Wallis WA-116 Series 1 gyroplane, also known as “Little Nellie.” His initial fly-over fruitless, as he only comes across a seemingly placid volcano. He realizes there must be more than meets the eye, however, when a small fleet of mini-copters attack him, resulting in one of Bond’s only air battles. Gyroplanes like the one Bond uses actually exist in real life, but fortunately Bond’s was equipped with a machine gun, rocket launcher and flame thrower, allowing him to best his pursuers. Bond later investigates the volcano by foot and discovers that it is, in fact, the SPECTRE base he had been looking for.
The Aston Martin DB5 is Bond’s signature car, appearing equipped with various gadgetry in several films. Its first appearance, however, was in 1964’s Goldfinger. Its features included tire-slashing hubcaps, a retractable bullet-proof shield in the rear, an ejectable passenger seat, machine guns in the headlights and an oil slick deployer—most of which came in handy for 007 throughout one of the series’ most classic films.