In memory of Sean Connery: From the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 to the 1937 Bentley Drophead Coupe, these are the seven cars made famous by the late James Bond icon

By Viju Mathew 5 November, 2020
1964 Aston Martin DB5

We look back at the vehicles that define the unique style and presence of the late Sean Connery, the first actor to play James Bond

Sean Connery and that Silver Birch Aston Martin DB5 will always be the 007 match made in heaven. But in the seven James Bond blockbusters that the Academy Award-winning actor starred in – from Dr. No in 1962 to the unofficial Never Say Never Again in 1983 – he slipped, slid and occasionally crunched an array of four-wheeled machinery. The following Bond cars were made famous by Sir Thomas Sean Connery, who died on 31 October 2020 at the age of 90.

1961 Sunbeam Alpine—Dr. No
The 1961 Sunbeam Alpine convertible was one of the first cars to be driven in the James Bond movies

It was the first Bond car in the first Bond movie. The baby blue, white-walled Sunbeam Alpine is the vehicle agent 007 rents when he lands in Jamaica on the trail of Dr. Julius No, the reclusive member of Spectre. With a budget of less than S$1 million, and no automakers eager to offer a freebie, the British-built 1961 Alpine II was borrowed from a Jamaican local. In the film, Connery is pursued by Dr. No’s henchmen – in a ’30s LaSalle hearse of all things – and escapes by driving the low-slung Sunbeam under a crane. The drop-top, gadget-free Alpine proved to be an excellent choice as it gave cinema-goers a good look at the new Bond in action.

1935 Drophead Bentley Mark IV
The 1935 Drophead Bentley Mark IV was the only Bentley driven in the entire Eon Production series

Found in the 1963 movie From Russia with Love, the 1935 Bentley Drophead 3.5 Litre Mark IV is the closest car to what Ian Fleming had Bond originally drive in the first book, Casino Royale – a 1931 Bentley 4.5 Litre. The 1935 model had a 110 horsepower, straight-six engine under the hood and was capable of 145 km/hr.

Perfect for an open-air drive in the country, the classic convertible may have scored him points with the ladies, but a Bentley would not appear on screen again with Bond until a less spry Sean Connery reprised his role in 1983 with Never Say Never Again.

1964 Aston Martin DB5
The original 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in the movie was sold by RM Sotheby’s in 2010 for S$8.6 million

The marque most associated with Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Aston Martin has had numerous models appear in a majority of the 25 official films to date – beginning with the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 in the Academy Award-winning Goldfinger. The most iconic car of the franchise, the classic two-seat coupe features an aluminium 282 horsepower, four-litre, straight-six engine – coupled with a five-speed transmission – and is able to accelerate from zero to 100 km/hr in eight seconds, reaching a top speed of 233 km/hr. Not part of the standard package, however, was its revolving license plate, bulletproof windshield, machine guns, oil-slick and smoke-screen devices, and, of course, the passenger-side ejector seat.

Two 1965 DB5s were used during filming and marked the start of Aston Martin’s long relationship with Eon Productions and Bond. The DB5 has later appeared in Thunderball, plus the non-Connery films GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Casino Royale, Skyfall, and Spectre – at least that’s the list so far.

But the car synonymous with the covert operative is now available to a few fortunate collectors. Aston Martin is currently producing 25 examples of its DB5 Goldfinger Continuation, authentic replicas complete with the tradecraft accouterments of the film version, and all for roughly US$3.6 million (S$4.87 million).

1967 Toyota 2000GT
RM Sotheby’s sold the 1967 Toyota 2000GT for S$2.1 million, making it the most expensive Asian car ever sold

A rare breed indeed, the topless 1967 Toyota 2000GT that was featured in You Only Live Twice (released the same year) was one of only two made. When filming started, it became obvious that Sean Connery was too tall for the original hardtop version intended for the film, so Toyota quickly readied the rare roadster. As it was, only 351 examples of the two-seat coupe – considered to be Japan’s first high-performance sports car – were ever produced.

Sitting in the passenger seat while the beautiful Japanese SIS agent Aki evaded villains, Bond was probably enamored of the car’s 150 horsepower, two-litre, straight-six engine and top speed of 217 km/hr – not to mention the onboard closed-circuit television, two-way radios, and voice-controlled electronics. The appeal runs in the blood; current 007 actor Daniel Craig has claimed that the 2000GT is his favourite Bond car.

1971 Mustang Mach 1
In the movie ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1971), James Bond rides in the car with Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) around Las Vegas