James Bond flirted with the idea of becoming a racing driver in his early career and the first of his cars was one of the last 4½ litre Bentleys with a supercharger by Amherst Villiers. The car is one of the famous “blower” Bentleys, of which just 54 were ever produced. Developed by Sir Henry Birkin with the specific aim of winning Le Man, the addition of the huge crankshaft driven supercharger in front of the radiator enabled the car to produce 242 bhp compared to 130 bhp without.
However, after it was written off by the release of fourteen tons of newsprint from the back of a lorry James Bond appears without a car until an Aston Martin DB III is made available in Goldfinger from the service’s car pool. It should probably have been more correctly described as an Aston Martin DB Mark III, one of the DB 2/4 Mark IIIs with a new front grill based on the DB3S racing car. This had a number of extras, although not as many as the DB5 in the film and its ejector seat.
Bond obviously had a thing for Bentleys though, and purchased a 1954 Mark II Continental Bentley with the R type chassis, big six engine and 13:40 back axel ratio. Described as “the most selfish car in England”, Bond had bought the wreck of a Continental after its previous owner, “some rich idiot”, had written it off against a telegraph pole. “She went like a bird and a bomb and Bond loved her more than all the women at present in his life”. Not happy with the car as it was, he had a body commissioned to turn it into a 2 seater, had a silver bolt in place of the Bentley symbol on the bonnet and later, against the advice of Rolls-Royce, had fitted an Arnott supercharger controlled by a magnetic clutch.
They said that the crankshaft bearings wouldn’t take the extra strain and withdrew their guarantees, but when Bond gets a chance to try his new toy on the way to Royale-Les-Eaux at the beginning of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he flips up the red switch on the dash to activate the supercharger and takes the car up to 125 mph.