Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Awesome James Bond Cars 


Aston Martin V-8 Vantage

The last car we talked about, the '77 Lotus, was the only car to be supplied by Q to Roger Moore. 

The Moore-era of James Bond films, however, is littered with great car stunts, but we aren't here to talk about that.

Timothy Dalton signed on as the new Bond for Living Daylights. I gotta say, 1987 was the golden era for practical stunts, as CGI was still a few years away. 

Looking back, though, the stunts in Living Daylights just appear stupid now. Well, some are kinda cool, but they certainly aren't filmed very well.

There are, however, some extremely expensive gags in Living Daylights

One involves two stuntmen duking it out on the loading ramp of a flying British military C-130, then that same aircraft was repainted and used as a Russian cargo plane - with a 4x4 being pulled from the Hercules just before it crashes. 

If you watch closely, you can see a C-123 Provider (the Con Air plane we talked about) standing in for the Hercules.

There are also some hijacked runaway Land Rover scenes that were actually shot in three different countries. Like I said, expensive stuff.

And finally, the Q-equipped Aston Martin Vantage.

The transition from Roger Moore to Timothy Dalton was a big deal in 1987, as was the choice of car. The producers felt going back to James Bond's roots was important, and Bond's ride had always been an English-built Aston Martin.

Aston Martin - keen to re-establish their brand - stepped up to the plate with the V-8 Vantage, a very handsome Grand Tourer with terrific lines.

There was a slight problem, though.

The script called for a hardtop Vantage....that was also a convertible. And that didn't actually exist. 

No matter. Victor Guantlett, chairman of Aston Martin, had an idea.

Using movie magic - and Guantlett's extremely rare Volante convertible, they shot the opening scenes of Living Daylight's with Dalton driving the ragtop - then shot scenes in Q's workshop with the Volante being 'winterized'.

Problem solved. Sorta.

Aston Martin's V-8 Vantage was introduced in 1977 as Great Britain's very first supercar. It was capable of 170 mph, and shared the Lagonda's 5.3 liter V-8, but was equipped with racing camshaft's. 

While Bond's new car is a Series 2 1985 Vantage, the production cars remained unchanged - except for some trim levels and bigger V-8 offerings - for 12 years.

Back to Living Daylights....

Indeed, two cars were actually used during the production to represent a single vehicle, but we're not supposed to notice.

And in truth, nobody really minded. 

It had been a decade since the last Q-car...and Bond Production went balls-out with the Vantage and its capabilities...and that's what we want to see. 

You handsome man, you

Timothy Dalton takes on the whole Russian Army with his V-8 Vantage, which is equipped with HUD-aimed missiles in the front bumper to blow shit up,  lasers that can cut a baddie's car in half, and door-sill skis. 

That's right...skis.

The Bond Vantage also has a rocket booster behind the rear license plate, is completely fire-proof, bullet-proof and has the inevitable self-destruct button.

The stunts are exciting, but dumb, really. The Vantage can produce skis and tire studs at the touch of a button - and the producers should have let things go right there. 

But they didn't.

For some reason, the Vantage can magically make a tire disappear from the wheel in order to cut a hole in a frozen over lake. The baddies, naturally sink in the hole. Then the tire magically reappears. 

Really? In what universe do tires evaporate?

It doesn't matter. 

The previous Bond film, A View to Kill, had been a critical and financial failure. Living Daylights was not. The critics ate it up, and the movie raked in 191 million dollars - which is friggin' Avatar money in today's terms. 

In case you aren't aware, the Bond series - as of right now - is a 12 billion dollar franchise. But things always haven't been so rosy.

Unfortunately, the Dalton-era was the beginning of a downward spiral for the Eon production company led by Albert Broccoli (now deceased) and his daughter Barbara. 

Two years later would usher in License to Kill, and a shit-ton of lawsuits that would nearly kill the franchise - and drive Dalton away as Bond.

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