Ever since Ian Fleming created James Bond - the world’s most iconic spy - in his original novels, the character has always been closely associated with the Côte d'Azur. Juan-Les-Pins was where Bond went to regain his strength, only to complain that it was becoming too much of a tourist destination for his tastes. But it is in the films above all that the Côte d'Azur and its tortuously winding roads became the ideal backdrop for his chases at the wheel of his fabulous cars.
The roads between Calvi and Mougins, for example, were the setting for “Never Dream of Dying” (2001), and Villefranche-Sur-Mer was where Largo, the number two of Spectre, kept his yacht moored in 1983’s “Never Say Never Again”. The road from here to Èze was used in several of the films, including “GoldenEye”, as were the three “Corniche” cliffs between Nice and Monte Carlo.
007 has used many different vehicles to get around on land, on water and in the air. A series of motoring gems, interspersed with much more ordinary cars, have become an integral part of the British secret agent’s mythical aura. This began in 1962, when the car sent to the airport to collect Bond in “Licence to Kill” was a Chevrolet Bel Air.
While in “From Russia with Love” we meet the luxury British Bentley Continental, which was also Bond’s personal car in the original novels. “Goldfinger” (1964) and “Thunderball” (1965) see the arrival on the scene of the Aston Martin DB5 (to reappear 47 years later in “Skyfall”), fully equipped with front and rear machine guns, smoke screen, oil spreader, three-pronged nail spreader, bullet-proof rear shield, passenger ejector seat, armoured bodywork and interchangeable rotating number plates. The car also had optional extras not revealed in the film, including a telephone in the door and radar in the rear-view mirror. In 2006 the car was sold at auction for 2,090,000 dollars; and the purchase price in 1970? The modern equivalent of around 7,000 euros. Even this belongs to the magical cult of 007.
Other Aston Martins – which made a record number of appearances – also included a V12 Vanquish in “Die Another Day” (2002) and a DBS V12, with diamond keys, in “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace”. The Aston Martin driven in 1987’s “The Living Daylights”, on the other hand, was a V8 Vantage equipped with removable skis, a rocket engine, radio scanner, bullet-proof glass, missiles hidden behind the fog lights, information projected inside the windscreen, laser beams in the hubcaps, tyres with removable riveting and a self-destruct device with timer.
And who can forget the most spectacular car jump ever of an AMC Hornet Hatchback in “The Man with the Golden Gun” (which the stuntman had to perform twice, on the insistence of the director), or the Toyota 2000GT Special Cabriolet, the Japanese Secret Service car driven by Bond-Girl Aki in “You Only Live Twice”.
Italian cars have also been featured, like the Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6 used by 007 in “Octopussy” to pursue Gogol's men. Audi 200 Turbos, a series of BMWs and Jaguars, used in the films running from 1987 to 1999, preceded an assortment of Alfa Romeo 159s, Range Rover Sports and Volvos used by the spy’s enemies to chase him down. The film “Spectre” then saw the return of an ultra-special Aston Martin DB10 (several of which were specially made for the movie), used by Bond in the scenes filmed in Rome, and a DB5 coupé, which he drives alongside Madeleine in the final scene in London.
While James Bond, in the world’s most famous spy series, has shown off this array of incredible cars - all in dream locations and dressed impeccably in clothes by fashion houses such as Brioni and Tom Ford - his style has always remained the same: that of the consummate gentleman. Because whatever he wears and whatever car he drives, Bond always exudes self-control and assurance.