Just in case you haven’t heard, Bond is back in town! Yes, there’s a new movie out, and what better way to celebrate 007’s new outing in Spectre than to visit the Bond In Motion exhibition in London’s Covent Garden! On display are the many vehicles that have become as iconic as the Bond movies themselves. My good friend ‘Mrs Lovett’ has managed to sort out two gift tickets for me, so I drag my very own Bond girl ‘Nien Nunb’ - who is, luckily, an avid James Bond fan as well – with me to Convent Garden where we hope to fire up our anticipation for Daniel Craig’s fourth Bond outing - which we will hopefully have seen by the time this blog is completed and uploaded!
So complimentary tickets in hand, we saunter on through and the pleasant receptionist waives us through. I just about manage to resist the urge to arch my eyebrow at her Roger Moore-style. First impressions of the exhibition are very impressive. The décor is sparse but classy, and perfectly echoes the suave and sophisticated nature of James Bond himself. On the wall are several high-definition screens each playing snippets of vehicle-centric action from the entire Bond franchise.
We enter the first part of the exhibition which features some great original storyboard artwork, script pages and some clapperboards from various Bond films. Note that the 2nd unit director for The World Is Not Enough was none other than Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones stunt-double and James Bond stunt specialist Vic Armstrong!
On the wall hangs some lovely looking framed concept artwork and original storyboards of memorable Bond set pieces, including Pierce Brosnan’s powerboat barrel roll from The World Is Not Enough and Timothy Dalton’s truck stunt from Licence To Kill. And housed in a display case is a wonderful model of London’s MI6 building as seen in The World Is Not Enough. Bond films have a long tradition of utilising scale models as well as using real vehicles to showcase real stunt work, and this is exactly what makes the exhibition so unique – the chance to actually get up close and personal with these props and vehicles to scrutinise the detail is an absolute joy!
The next cabinet features a range of prop passports and documents as seen in the movies. Seeing James Bond’s own passport is very surreal! Interestingly, Daniel Craig’s Bond was born in Berlin according to his passport. That explains the blonde hair and blue eyes then!
Also on display are Bond’s passport for his Casino Royale alias ‘Arlington Beech’ and Vesper Lynd’s ‘Stephanie Broadchest’ alias. Staying with Daniel Craig’s Bond we also have his Evaluation Report from Skyfall. Medical: Fail; Physical: Fail; Psychological: Fail. Oh dear, Mr. Bond!
With the first floor done, we head to the stairway to make our way downstairs to the vehicle displays. Hanging from the ceiling is the very detailed and extremely impressive model AW101 helicopter used for the ending of Skyfall, which we see shooting up Bond’s beloved Aston Martin (more on that later) and his childhood home.
Then we arrive at the exhibition’s first vehicle, and it’s a doozy – Auric Goldfinger’s black and yellow Rolls Royce Phantom III from Goldfinger! It’s a massive beast of a machine and looks absolutely fabulous so close up. The number plate is AU1, AU of course being the periodic table symbol for gold. The car itself played an important part in Goldfinger’s storyline – Bond put a tracker in the Rolls which allowed him to follow Goldfinger to Switzerland, where he discovers that Goldfinger smuggles gold by melting it down and incorporating it into the bodywork of his Rolls. No sign of Odd Job though! A nice touch are the projected screens on the walls next to each exhibit, showing action sequences from the Bond films featuring the relevant vehicles.
Next up is the red AMC Hornett driven by Roger Moore’s Bond in The Man With The Golden Gun. This car is of course famous for the spectacular 360 degree mid-air twisting corkscrew jump across a broken bridge (complete with zany slide-whistle).
We jump forward to the Pierce Brosnan era next, and Die Another Day’s Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. Aston Martin is synonymous with James Bond, and the spy has driven many models and renditions over the years. This particular model featured all the usual gadgets from Q Branch, including ‘adaptive camouflage’ which renders the vehicle virtually invisible. It featured heavily in the film’s climatic Iceland frozen lake chase sequence with the Jaguar that is handily displayed next to it: the Jaguar XKR, the vehicle of choice for Die Another Day villain Zao, comes fitted with a gattling gun, thermal imaging capabilities, mortar bombs, rockets, missiles, and front ramming spikes as factory standard. Handy for clearing that rush hour traffic! Also on display is the Bombardier Ski-Doo MX Z-REV 800 snowmobile.
Next is the Mercury Cougar XR7 from 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This is possibly the most overlooked of all the Bond films, which featured Australian model George Lazenby in his single outing as 007. The film itself is actually pretty decent, although Lazenby’s Bond does leave a lot to be desired!
It’s not just cars that feature in the exhibition – here we have the Acrostar BD-5J Jet from Octopussy. Roger Moore’s Bond hides this mini plane in a fake horse trailer before using it to escape from an army base, in the film’s opening credits. “Fill her up, please!” We then arrive to one of my favourite Bond vehicles – the ‘Q-Boat’. In the opening sequence of The World Is Not Enough, an explosion rocks MI6’s London headquarters, and Pierce Brosnan’s 007 commandeers Q’s unfinished prototype jet boat to pursue the suspect ‘Cigar Girl’ on a thrilling chase down the Thames River. Looking like something batman would drive, this unique boat uses a powerful 5.7 V8 jet engine which sucks water in at the front and pumps it out of the back at high pressure, eliminating the need for conventional propellers. It is capable of performing remarkable high-speed manoeuvres and reaching speeds of 65mph!
Keeping with the nautical theme is the Wet Bike used by Roger Moore in the absolutely brilliant The Spy Who Loved Me, and a miniature model of the Zodiac Boat as seen in Tomorrow Never Dies. Another speedboat on display is the Glastron GT-150 from Roger Moore’s first outing as Bond, Live And Let Die. The film features a thrilling boat chase through the Louisiana marshes, and the Glastron makes a record breaking 120 ft jump across a road!
Next to the Glastron is one of Bond’s rather more unconventional ‘vehicles’ – the ‘Crocodile Submarine’ that Roger Moore used in Octopussy. This is one vehicle that definitely would not find its way into a Daniel Craig Bond movie that’s for sure – or least we all hope not! Displayed directly opposite is the very cool looking Bath-O-Sub from Sean Connery’s final official Bond outing Diamonds Are Forever. This aquatic vehicle was used by mega-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld and features the famous SPECTRE logo on the front. The vehicle is beautifully lit with a shimmery water effect giving the illusion of it being submerged underwater.
Then we come to arguably the most iconic Bond vehicle of them all (besides Sean Connery’s DB5 of course) – the Lotus Esprit S1 ‘Wet Nellie’, driven by Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. It’s a sleek and sexy machine, looking like something that Apple would design for 007 to drive. In the movie, Bond is engaged in a high speed chase through the twisting roads of Sardinia, and plunges his Lotus into the sea to escape a pursuing helicopter. The Espirit then transforms into a submarine and ‘Wet Nellie’ saves the day! It’s a smashing sequence and perfectly captures the essence of a James Bond film. Moore also drove a Lotus Esprit Turbo in For Your Eyes Only but that car wasn’t half as fun as this white classic.
I then hop about mad with excitement as I realise what I see right before my very eyes. I’m standing in the presence of James Bond royalty. Yes, it’s the magnificent Aston Martin DB5. Bow down in respect! The DB5 made its first appearance in Goldfinger in 1964, where it was driven by Connery. It truly is a silver classic of timeless beauty. And we all know the gadgets – oil spray, bullet proof shield, radar screen, revolving number plates, tire slashers, and of course the famous ejector seat with control button in the gear stick. Sean Connery also drove the DB5 in Thunderball before it found its way into the hands of Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. My favourite appearance, though has to be in Casino Royale, in which we see how current Bond Daniel Craig acquired the car – he wins it during a poker game in the Bahamas, of course!
The DB5 received its final farewell on Bond’s 50th anniversary in Skyfall, where we see 007 drive M to his childhood home in Scotland before it gets blown to smithereens by helicopter fire. Damn! Luckily, that particular car was in fact a highly detailed model replica created by a 3D printer!
We then have Daniel Craig’s more modern take on the DB5 – the Aston Martin DBS. There are two versions on display here, and both look absolutely spectacular. First is the badly damaged dark grey DBS Bond is driving in the opening chase sequence of Quantum Of Solace. In the film, the car is almost completely wrecked after being chased and shot at by villains in Alfa Romeo 159 cars. The heavy scratching along the side of the car and bullet holes in the windscreen all look stunning when viewed so close.
Next to it sits the silver-grey DBS that Bond drives in Casino Royale, which he wrecks in spectacular fashion as he chases villain Le Chiffre who’s made off with Bond girl Vespa Lynd. When Bond swerves to avoid running over Vesper, the car barrel rolls seven times – the stunt broke the record for most cannon-assisted barrel rolls! This was also the car that contained Bond’s emergency defibrillator which he uses on himself when Le Chiffre poisons him. The car still looks very nice despite the damage!
Tying in with Casino Royale is the tuxedo Daniel Craig wears in the movie, complete with blood after he kills a baddie with his bare hands. “You changed your shirt, Mr. Bond,” observes Le Chiffre during their high stakes game of poker. “I hope our little game isn’t causing you to perspire.”
Back to an American muscle car again, this time it’s the beautiful red Ford Mustang Mach 1 driven by Sean Connery’s Bond through Las Vegas in Diamonds Are Forever. The car is famous for Bond’s stunt of driving the Mustang on two wheels through a narrow alleyway. It’s also one of the more famous movie mistakes, as the car comes riding out on the opposite two wheels! A shot was added showing Bond inside the car as it changes to the other side, but there’s no explanation of how exactly this would have happened! In a nod to the stunt, the exhibition has displayed the Mustang on two wheels and have projected lights from the Las Vegas strip onto the body. It all looks very cool!
Two miniature models from The World Is Not Enough – the helicopter with buzz-saw rig, and Bond’s BMW Z8 - indicates that we’re arriving into Pierce Brosnan’s BMW-heavy territory now. Up first is the BMW Z8 as seen in The World Is Not Enough. It’s loaded with all the usual Q refinements, of course – titanium plating and armour, ground-to-air missiles, a key chain that can control the car remotely, and as John Cleese’s R points out, cup holders. The car wasn’t used in the film much, and is probably only memorable for being cut in half by a helicopter wielding a massive buzz-saw.
Next to it sits the dimly-lit BMW 750iL used by Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies. In the film, Bond is dodging bullets in a multi-storey car park while operating the BMW from the backseat lying down, using his mobile phone which doubles as a remote control. He then takes a dive off the car park and crash lands into an Avis car rental office. The exhibition handily has the miniature model of this incident on display.
If I was excited to see the Aston Martin DB5 earlier, it was nothing compared to how I feel when I see what is on display next – it’s the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Series III as used by Timothy Dalton’s 007 in 1987’s The Living Daylights! Not only is Dalton my favourite Bond, but Daylights is also my favourite Bond film of them all! I dance around madly while Nien Numb slowly edges away, pretending to be a stranger. Dalton’s tenure as Bond was arguably way ahead of its time, bringing a much harder-edged 007 to the screen. Both of Dalton’s films were more gritty, more darker, and more violent than any Bond film before them, and clearly audiences were not ready for such a serious portrayal of Bond, for the Brosnan era slipped back into mild campiness and over-blown villain masterplans. Thankfully, Daniel Craig has picked up from where Dalton left off. Anyway, back to the car. The V8 looks absolutely stunning, and the exhibition has it displayed with its skis deployed, as seen in the film when Bond’s tyres are shot out on a frozen lake. The V8 has a whole host of other Q modifications of course, including missiles, a laser, rocket boosters, tire spikes, a HUD, and self-destruct mode.
Also displayed behind the V8 is Bond Girl Kara Milovy’s ‘Cello Case Sled’ and Cello. In the film, Bond sets his V8 to self-destruct and the duo escape on Kara’s cello case, with Bond using the cello as an oar to steer their ‘sled’ down the mountainside. Not surprisingly, the cello suffers some damage – for which 007 apologises, naturally.
I then have to smirk when I see which vehicle is on display next. It’s ‘Little Nellie’ – the Wallis WA-116 Agile Series 1 Gyroplane! ‘Little Nellie’ was the build-it-yourself gyroplane flown by Sean Connery’s Bond in You Only Live Twice. As cool as it looks, it would be hard to take a modern-day Bond seriously if he took to the skies in this unusual aircraft!
Okay, this area of the exhibition clearly seems to be for the ‘comedy’ vehicles. We’ve just had ‘Little Nellie’ and now we have the yellow Citroen 2CV – well the back half of it, anyway – as driven by Roger Moore’s Bond in For Your Eyes Only. This is followed by the Indian Tuk-Tuk Taxi Roger Moore uses in Octopussy – well I’d hardly describe this one as a Bond vehicle per se, but he does use it during a car chase I suppose, so it’s in!
The final car on display is possibly the most boring looking Bond car and definitely my least favourite – the Renault 11 used by Roger Moore’s Bond in A View To A Kill as he chases villain May Day after she parachutes off the Eiffel Tower. In the film, Bond lobs the entire roof off when he drives under a barrier, and it is this version of the vehicle on display. Further on in the chase, the car ends up being cut in half and yet Bond can still drive it – it looks ridiculous but at least the scene is (more or less) played for laughs.
And so onto the last exhibits: Bond’s motorbikes. They’ve saved the two wheelers for last, and the collection is rather impressive. On display are the two Honda CFR250R bikes used in the opening Istanbul sequence of Skyfall: the modified ‘dirty orange’ bike as used by Daniel Craig’s Bond, and the Turkish Police bike used by Henchman Patrice.
Next to the Skyfall bikes sits the very impressive BWM R 1200 C Cruiser motorcycle from Tomorrow Never Dies. The BMW featured in an exhilarating chase sequence as Pierce Brosnan’s Bond rides the bike through the streets of Saigon while handcuffed to Chinese secret agent Wai Lin. In a breath-taking stunt, Bond jumps the bike from one rooftop onto another and over the whirling blades of a pursuing helicopter. Also on show is the Montesa Cota 4RT used by Daniel Craig’s Bond in Quantum Of Solace, and the Caviga 600 W16 used by Pierce Brosnan in the pre-title sequence of GoldenEye.
And so that’s your lot! A pretty impressive collection I must say! Satisfied with our photographs of the wonders we’ve just witnessed, we stop by the 007 bar for a quick refresher – shaken, not stirred of course. (And in true Casino Royale style, Nien Nunb doesn’t look like she gives a damn!). We then duck into the obligatory gift shop and peruse the wares. I opt for a nice fridge magnet as memento of my Bond in Motion experience, as well as a nifty looking pen. Okay, so it doesn’t self-destruct upon numerous clicks, but you must admit, embezzled with the 007 logo it looks pretty damn neat!
So that’s a wrap folks. Bond In Motion was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and an absolute must-see for any Bond fan! Look out for my review of new Bond film ‘SPECTRE’ very soon. As always, James Bond will return…