James Bond cars: the Timothy Dalton era

A detailed look at James Bond’s cars and other vehicles in Timothy Dalton’s two outings as 007.

The departure of Roger Moore turned the page on an era of James Bond, ushering in Timothy Dalton with a promise of change. Dalton’s Bond was a departure from the suave, smooth-talking spy we had grown accustomed to; he brought a grit and realism to the role that hadn’t been seen before.

Dalton wasn’t just a new face for Bond; he brought with him a shift in the entire series, bringing an entirely fresh interpretation of 007.

The Living Daylights

Dalton’s debut as 007 in The Living Daylights marks the return of Aston Martin to the series for the first time since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond’s company car is a V8 Vantage Volante fitted with a variety of extras, which is “winterised” by Q Branch when Bond heads to snow-covered Czechoslovakia – a hard top is added to the convertible.

In reality the car featured in scenes with the top down was a V8 Vantage owned by Aston Martin Lagonda’s then-chairman, Victor Gauntlett. Two V8 saloons with added Vantage badges were used in scenes with the winterised car, including when Bond and Kara try to outrun a number of Czech police VAZ-2106 sedans. This was exported to the West as the Lada 1600.

Airborne Land Rovers

The film opens with a bang, featuring a short-wheelbase Land Rover Series III in a thrilling pre-credits sequence. This vehicle, after manoeuvring at high speed along the Rock of Gibraltar’s narrow roads with Bond hanging on for dear life, crashes off a cliff. Bond’s parachute pulls him clear of the car before the cargo of smouldering ammunition explodes in mid-air.

Another Land Rover becomes airborne later in the film. This time it’s a Land Rover 90, which was modified to look like a Soviet off-roader. When the C-130 Hercules runs out of fuel they get in the car, which is on a cargo pallet. With the cargo door down, Bond pulls a ripcord and a parachute pulls the car clear before the plane crashes.

Milk Float

After Kodkov apparently defects to the UK he stays at an MI6 safe house in the country. Necros is sent to rescue Kodkov, infiltrating the safe house in a milk float.

These electric vehicles have long been a common sight in the UK as local dairies deliver milk door to door. This one is a Wales and Edwards Rangemaster. As he is confronted by MI6 staff Necros uses every means available to defend himself, including explosive milk bottles.

Licence to Kill

After Dalton’s inaugural outing as 007, there is no Aston Martin for Bond in Licence to Kill. In fact he barely drives a car at all in the follow up to The Living Daylights. This may well have been due to the $32 million budget, down from $40 million for the previous entry. Financial constraints certainly caused the filmmakers to opt for studios in Mexico over Pinewood.

The only car Bond drives in the film is a Lincoln Mark VII after he arrives at Leiter’s house to find Della murdered and his CIA buddy had “disagreed with something that ate him”.

Instead we find Bond on top of, then hanging on for dear life beneath, and finally behind the wheel of a tanker. He boards the tanker from a light aircraft flown by Pam Bouvier. It is one of four Kenworth W900B trucks hauling a cargo of cocaine dissolved in petrol as Sanchez flees his burning base.

At one point Bond manoeuvres the massive vehicle onto its left-side wheels, just as one of Sanchez’s men fires a Stinger missile at his tanker. It misses and hits one of the other tankers instead.

Other cars

The film opens with Bond, Leiter and Sharkey on their way to Leiter’s wedding in a white Rolls-Royce Phantom V. While en route to the church DEA agents in a Coast Guard helicopter intercept the car. They want Leiter to assist in the operation to capture drug lord Franz Sanchez.

Sanchez escapes the DEA operation in a light aircraft. Back on board the chopper, Bond – allowed along strictly as an observer – drops onto Sanchez’s plane below by winch and attaches a cable to the tail so it can be pulled out of the air. Bond and Leiter then parachute to the church below and to Della, the waiting bride. She has already arrived in a 1982 Ford Grand Marquis stretch limo.

After arriving in Isthmus City by speedboat Bond and Pam are driven to their hotel in a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II. After convincing Sanchez to hire him, Bond is taken to Sanchez’s HQ in a 4-door Maserati Biturbo 425i. Pam infiltrates the drug lord’s HQ and rescues Bond after he is recognised. She drives him to her light aircraft in a Taylor-Dunn Tee-Bird golf cart.

David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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