MI6 looks back at the cars 007 drove in the original Ian Fleming adventures...

Literary Bond Cars - Fleming Era
24th May 2004

Although James Bond will forever be associated with Aston Martin, in the books he is very much a Bentley man. The first time we meet Bond in Casino Royale, he is driving a 4½ litre Bentley and while he is to be found behind the wheel of a service owned Aston Martin in Goldfinger, he owns a total of three Bentley's in the Fleming books.

The first car we find him with is one of the last 4½ litre Bentleys with an Amherst Villiers supercharger. Built in 1930, Bond had bought the car in 1933 and kept it in storage during the Second World War. A battleship grey Convertible coupé, the Bentley had large French Marchal headlamps and an Amherst Villiers supercharger.

Although badly damaged in Casino Royale, the car was repaired in time to make an appearance in Moonraker. Its reappearance was shortlived though, as the car was smashed by the release of fourteen tons of newsprint from the back of a lorry in the same story. The 4½ litre supercharged Bentley, known as the "blower Bentley", was a car built specifically for racing and James Bond must have cursed his luck when the car was written off, as only 55 were ever made.

Above: A blower Bentley showing off the twin Marchal headlamps and Amherst Villiers supercharger.

At the end of Moonraker, Bond purchases his second Bentley, a new 1953 Mark VI with an open touring body. Again it was battleship grey with dark blue leather upholstery. After test-driving it, Bond informs the garage "She is sold on one condition. That you get her over to the ferry terminal at Calais by tomorrow evening." Quite a different car from the blower, it is not clear what happened to it as it is not referred to it in any of the subsequent books. Perhaps the car broke down on the way and didn't make Calais.

Above: A Bentley Mark VI.

In Goldfinger we find Bond in an Aston Martin at long last. Described as a battleship grey DB III, it should probably have been more correctly described as an Aston Martin DB Mark III, the third incarnation of the DB 2/4 with a new front grill based on the DB3S racing car.

Bond's car was provided by the service and fitted with a number of extras, although not as many as the DB5 in the film and its ejector seat.

James Bond's final Bentley first appears in 1961 in Thunderball. Described as "the most selfish car in England", Bond had bought the wreck of a Mark II Continental with the R-Type chassis after its previous owner, "some rich idiot", had written it off against a telegraph pole. In addition to having the chassis straightened and upgrading the engine from 4½ litres to the Mark IV 4.9 litre engine, Bond commissioned a body from Mulliners, who "had sawn off the old cramped sports saloon body and had fitted a trim, rather square convertible two-seater affair". Again the car is painted battleship grey, this time upholstered in black leather, with two-inch exhaust pipes to produce the depth of growl demanded by Bond and the nose sports a big octagonal silver bolt in place of the Bentley winged B.

Above: Aston Martin DB Mark III

In fact Ian Fleming had written to Rolls Royce's chairman, Whitney Straight, in 1957 requesting information for Bond's new car. As an owner of two Ford Thunderbirds, Fleming wrote; "I would like it to be a cross between a Continental Bentley and a Ford Thunderbird - i.e. a smallish cockpit with a long bonnet line and a large boot behind". Fleming was directed to Mulliners, who were designing such a car for a Portuguese owner, but the cost proved to be prohibitive and instead a new design was built by Henri Capron in France. With a long Thunderbird like boot, the latter design seems closer to Fleming's request than the Mulliners design.

Above: The Henri Capron designed Bentley Continental


Two years later in On Her Majesty's Secret Service we find the same Bentley with a new improvement. Against the advice of Rolls Royce, who said that the crankshaft bearings would be unable to cope with the extra strain and withdrew their guarantees, Bond had fitted an Arnott supercharger controlled by a magnetic clutch.

Bond finally gets a chance to try his new toy on the way to Royale-Les-Eaux while racing a girl headed in the same direction. Activating the supercharger by flipping up a red switch on the dash, he takes the car up to 125 mph - the engine is undamaged and the girl eventually becomes Mrs Bond. But that is another story.

Thanks to David Leigh.