After 50 years and 23 films, including the forthcoming Skyfall, James Bond has driven some pretty fantastic automobiles — not to mention boats, airplanes, tanks and an alligator submarine. We've already highlighted the 10 Best James Bond Cars.
At the same time, however, there have been some stinkers. Some on this 10 Worst list are just terrible cars, period. In some cases, though, that terribleness actually served a purpose. More controversially, there are good cars on here that were inappropriately or poorly used.
In order to put together this list, though, we had to ask ourselves the question: "What is a Bond Car?" Does it need to be a featured star like the Aston Martin DB5 or Lotus Esprit? Does it simply mean that James Bond at some point had to drive it? Or is just being in a Bond film enough? We just answered yes to all of the above.
Now, you may notice that Ford is heavily represented on this list, but that's simply because of the long-standing product placement relationship between Ford Motor Company and Eon Productions, the makers of the James Bond films. The Mustang and Cougar on the Best list certainly balance things out. Having said that, the worst Bond car ever is...
1. Ford LTD — A View to a Kill
Do we really need to explain why James Bond driving a Ford LTD in A View to a Kill might be a problem? It's a Ford LTD, and unlike some other stinkers on this list, there wasn't even a good reason for it to be there — not for irony, not to perform a specific stunt. Nope, it was just horrible and James Bond was driving it. Though to be fair, it was perhaps slightly appropriate for 58-year-old Roger Moore, who looked overdue for his admittance into the Double-O section of the Shady Acres Retirement Village.
2. Aston Martin Vanquish — Die Another Day
True, the Vanquish is a classic separate of any Bond affiliation. Yes, it's an Aston Martin, which goes with 007 like shaken vodka martinis and Walther PPKs. This particular Vanquish was even packed with more gadgets and gizmos than any Bond car before it. Except that's the problem — there comes a point when you go way too far.
With its ejector seat, multiple grille-mounted missiles and automated machine guns, the Vanquish from Die Another Day was already an über-caricature of what people think a Bond car should be. Then, in one of the biggest jump-the-shark moments of this 50-year-old film series, the Vanquish went where no Bond car has gone before by including a cloaking device. (For those uninitiated to Star Trek references, that means it can disappear.) Sorry, but Romulan technology has no business in a James Bond car. The Vanquish was ultimately indicative of the over-the-top caricature of a Bond movie it was in.
3. Citroen 2CV — For Your Eyes Only
Without question, this is the worst vehicle on the list from a stock automotive perspective. The "Deux Chevaux," as it's nicknamed, was indeed a horrific car — France's answer to the VW Beetle — but that was actually the point. One of the reasons James Bond has lasted 50 years on screen is that its filmmakers have had the good sense to recognize when the series ventured too far into the realm of science fiction and brought it back down to Earth (literally, in this case) to 007's more serious, literary roots. Just see the previous entry's film and its follow-up, Casino Royale.
After blasting off into space in Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only was a grittier film about a British encoding machine and Greek smugglers. Gadgets were kept to a minimum and to drive home that point, the Lotus Esprit Turbo driven by Roger Moore's Bond is blown to bits just as you think it's about to embark on the typical car chase. Instead, he's stuck driving the Deux Chevaux owned by the crossbow-wielding Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet). Sure, it's a terrible car, but it served a purpose.
4. AMC Hornet — The Man With the Golden Gun
AMC Hornet seems to be the most frequently mentioned vehicle when it comes to the worst Bond cars. Certainly, 007 should not be driving anything made by American Motors. Yet, its placement in The Man With the Golden Gun was similar to that of the Citroen Deux Chevaux — except from a production standpoint instead of a story one.
Director Guy Hamilton came across an AMC-sponsored stunt performed at the Astrodome that involved a Javelin driving up an angled ramp, rotating 360 degrees like a football and coming down on its wheels on an oppositely angled ramp. The stunt was the first of its kind, as it was devised by a Cornell engineer using a computer to precisely calculate the needed speed and ramp angles necessary to achieve the stunt. Computers were fanciful stuff back in 1974, and since those calculations indicated a specially modified AMC Hornet would be safest, opting for a more 007-appropriate car was not possible. To explain this odd vehicle choice, Bond steals the Hornet from a Bangkok AMC dealer (those didn't actually exist) to track down the villain in what is admittedly a pretty good chase.
Perhaps that would make some rethink its place on the worst list, but then Hamilton did ruin the stunt by playing a cheeseball penny whistle over a slow-motion profile shot.
5. AMC Matador — The Man With the Golden Gun
Terrible movie, terrible cars. Why not put them back to back? True, this wasn't actually driven by Bond himself. Had it been, the AMC Matador would be the runaway No. 1 here. But even though it was actually driven by villain Francisco Scaramanga with his diminutive henchman Nick Nack riding shotgun, the Matador's wretched, butt-ugly awfulness is more than enough to place it on this or any other worst list. Let's also not forget that Scaramanga was an assassin who got $1 million per pop and lived on his own island. You'd think he could step up from a Matador.
To put lipstick on a pig, though, the Bond filmmakers had the bright idea to turn the Matador into a flying car. Unlike the amazing on-screen transformation accomplished three years later by the Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me, the Matador's huge yellow wing assembly and jet engine are entirely attached off camera and implied through editing. Once "transformed" and ready for takeoff, it also became one of the least believable scale models in series history.
6. The Moon Buggy — Diamonds Are Forever
Before the cloaking device-equipped Vanquish in Die Another Day and the gondola car in Moonraker, the original forehead-palm, jump-the-shark vehicle was the Moon Buggy in Diamonds Are Forever. Sean Connery's Bond steals it to escape from Willard Whyte's Tectronics desert laboratory. According to famed production designer Ken Adam in the documentary Inside Diamonds Are Forever, director Guy Hamilton wanted the Moon Buggy "to look grotesque with these flailing arms." We're not sure about grotesque, but it was definitely absurd. With Connery's head popping up in the Buggy's bubble top like the disembodied head of Richard Nixon in Futurama, 007 leads a hapless squadron of early-70s land yacht security cars on a suitably absurd chase through the desert.
Perhaps in a better movie it could have presented a moment of comic relief — like the Russian tank chase in GoldenEye — but in a silly, pacing-challenged stinker like Diamonds, it was one head-slapper too many.
7. Ford Ka — Quantum of Solace
Here's another from the Unfortunate Product Placement File. Tracy di Vincenzo had a Cougar, Tiffany Case had a Mustang Mach 1 and Aki had a Toyota 2000GT. What does Camille (Olga Kurylenko) get in Quantum of Solace? A Ford Ka. We think it was supposed to be hydrogen-powered or something, but who cares? It's a tiny, gold Ford Ka with dopey body graphics. On the upside, Ford had the courtesy to crop most of it out of promotional pictures and focus on Olga instead.
8. BMW Z3 — GoldenEye
The Z3 can be a great car. This author even owns one, ostensibly because its appearance in GoldenEye inspired an impressionable 12-year-old James Bond fan. And yet the Z3 ends up on the worst list because of unfulfilled potential. It was hugely promoted and Q promises "all the usual refinements" including a parachute, a self-destruct system and stinger missiles behind the headlamps. Except it doesn't do anything but take a leisurely spin near a beach. This author can do that, albeit with the 189-horsepower inline-6 rather than Pierce Brosnan's 138-hp four-banger.
This is a painful choice, but sometimes you have to face reality.
9. Lincoln Mark VII LSC — Licence To Kill
While the Citroen 2CV was a terrible car appropriately placed in a Bond movie, the Lincoln Mark VII in Licence To Kill is the exact opposite. Indeed, the 1989 Mark VII LSC was actually a good car. It featured the contemporary Mustang's 5.0-liter V8 good for 225 hp and 300 pound-feet of torque, while boasting a firmer air suspension, performance tires and cast-aluminum wheels to drive home that it wasn't the typical Lincoln land yacht.
And yet Timothy Dalton's 007 climbing out of Lincoln's "Luxury Sport Coupe" just didn't look right. When you think of England's quintessential secret agent and cars he would drive, an '80s Lincoln coupe isn't exactly prime suspect No. 1. It was more Spenser for Hire than Her Majesty's Secret Service, more Hertz Premium Collection than Q's workshop. Then again, Licence To Kill itself was a good movie that didn't quite feel like a Bond movie. Maybe an appropriate choice after all.
10. Ford Mondeo — Casino Royale
In England, the term "Mondeo man" refers to a stereotypical, middle-class working man who drives his stereotypical, middle-class family sedan to work and back. Here in America, Sarah Palin would refer to him as Joe Sixpack. We don't think it's a stretch to say there is nothing stereotypical or middle-class about Commander James Bond. As such, this juxtaposition of car and character should be enough for a spot on this list. However, there was a reason 007 was driving the Ford Mondeo in Casino Royale and it only makes things worse.
In a series that practically invented product placement, this otherwise classic Bond film manages to pull off two simultaneously in one unnecessary scene. Daniel Craig's Bond uses the then-novel navigation functionality of his Sony Ericsson phone to guide him around the Bahamas in a brand-spanking-new Mondeo shot as if it were in a Ford commercial. It's not the placement that's the problem; it's the overt nature of it. The entire sequence, though short, shouldn't even be good enough for the DVD's deleted scenes section, yet is obviously included because of the corporate partnership. He might as well have pondered, "Have you driven a Ford lately?" Still, better than an LTD.