Let’s get this out of the way first: of course the best Bond car is the Aston Martin DB5.
Just, of course. Look at Sean lounging against it. It's perfect, no... they're perfect. And if you don’t agree then, frankly, you shouldn’t be wasting the internet’s time. Around 60% of the world’s population are yet to have internet access and here you are, strolling around the web with your incorrect opinions. Shame on you. Now go on, get lost. Scram.
For the rest of us, this is about finding 007’s best not-an-Aston car. And I’m excluding other Astons that could make a strong case against the DB5 too. Including them feels a bit obvious, a bit safe, a bit Hilary. Which is tough, because the V8 Vantage in The Living Daylights carries Timothy Dalton through that film in more ways than one. Nevertheless, it’s more interesting to keep this an Astonless list.
The criteria is like most of M’s briefings: vague, assumptive and based on no real evidence whatsoever. Let’s just say we want James to have actually been in the car with additional points available for the absurd level of modifications, the difficulty / success of the stunts performed and the car’s significance to the plot.
Good, ground rules set, let’s get started. And where better to begin, than with the most unassuming one of them all.
CITROËN 2CV – For Your Eyes Only
What, you might not be asking, is MI6’s most highly trained operative doing in the car originally designed to get French farmers off their horse-drawn carts and into the 20th Century?
Well [SPOILER ALERT], it’s Q’s fault. His anti-theft device of choice on Bond's Lotus Turbo Espirit was not crowbar-proof windows or electric-shock door handles. No, for Q, the most effective way to protect your car from thieves is to just blow the damn thing up (see unfortunate henchman below).
Not to say that this isn’t effective, just that one sometimes wonders if Q Branch see dynamite as the answer to all life’s problems. Car being stolen? Got just the thing. Parking ticket? Say no more. Toothache? Easy peezy.
Anyway, his only vehicle successfully destroyed, 007 needs another getaway option. Melina Havelock, having just assassinated her parents’ murderer (and looking pretty perky, all things considered) offers up her 2CV.
Even with machine guns rattling away, James has the temerity to look at the car and raise his eyebrows, making part of you wish she’d just drive off without him. Anyway, he gets in and even lets her drive… for all of two minutes. Though in his defence, she does roll them onto its roof.
And so a chase scene unfolds that wouldn’t look out of place in a Buster Keaton film, complete with sped up footage and, of course, a car landing in a tree.
In between navigating terrain akin to a Dakar stage, the plucky deux chevaux gets bashed, bumped and bullet-holed to near oblivion but still manages to come out on top. As in, it literally comes out on top, taking to the air to bounce off the roof of the chasing Peugeot.
The scene ends with much Spanish gesticulating (cars and olive groves do not good bed fellows make) and the near decimated Citroën wobbling unsteadily off.
This is Bond not taking itself too seriously and offering up a very French soupçon of humour in the process. Where other cars have gadgets, turbos and go-faster stripes, the 2CV has a roll-back canopy roof and 29bhp, yet it still manages to charm our boots off.
In a film franchise that strains every sinew to be remarkable, this car manages to stand out by being anything but. And for that, we doff out beret in its direction.
FUN FACT: The car was fitted with a flat-4 engine from a Citroën GS which more than doubled it's power, keeping it (just) ahead of the chasing Peugeot 504s. Just don't tell Q.
PART 2 to follow soon...