If the topic of Bond cars is rife with Aston Martins, you can blame those tweed-bedecked British gentlemen for making such British cars. Bond fits into Astons like he does short-lived relationships, so to represent the Timothy Dalton era, we’ve opted for his cooler car, the 1986 V8 Vantage Volante from The Living Daylights. It should be noted that in Dalton’s other Bond film, License to Kill, he drove a then equally British Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, but since Q didn’t have a hand in outfitting it, we’ll stick with the Aston.
Identifying this Bond car can be something of a trick. In the early scenes of the film, Bond drives an ’86 Vantage Volante (actually owned by medieval warrior Aston Martin Chairman Victor Gauntlett). Since “Volante” is British for “Convertible,” it is a soft top. But later, during OO7’s ritual meeting with Q, the latter’s flunkies are seen fitting the car with a fixed roof. Q remarks that it’s being “winterized.” But a hardtop V8 Vantage was never built, and the two used for filming were actually non-Vantage Astons with Vantage badges.
Since the film calls for it, however, we’ll suspend disbelief for now, and apply the V8 Vantage’s specs across the board. It presented a significant performance boost over Roger Moore’s Lotus Esprit. In fact, the V8’s displacement in liters matched its 0-60 time in seconds – both were 5.3. When the 360 hp Vantage was first released in 1977, it was hailed as “Britain’s fastest supercar,” topping out at 170 mph. But after eight years, it was time for a power upgrade, and the Vantage was blessed with the 430 hp mill from the V8 Zagato, which upped the top speed to 186 mph. This was definitely a machine for Bond.
Q’s “winterization” didn’t just involve a roof. Like a proper Bond car, the Vantage was packed with gadgetry, and a few of the upgrades were perfect for Bond’s snow-bound Russian destination for the film. Ice-gripping spikes sprung from the tyres (or “tires,” to us colonials) at the push of a button, and when these failed, a pair of outrigger skis could extend from the flanks for extra grip in the white stuff. These played well with the next feature, a jet engine housed in the boot.
Like the jet, there were other modifications that would probably work in any climate. Behind the headlights hid heat-seeking missiles, with a Pontiac Aztek-like fighter jet-like heads-up display for fire control. The windows were bulletproof, and the whole body fireproof, a feature you’d probably find helpful when your clearcoat starts to wear off. A laser could fire from the front hubcaps, though this unfortunately produced one of the most nonsensical movie gags this side of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, cutting a Lada in half while miraculously leaving its occupants unharmed.
Timothy Dalton didn’t last long as James Bond, and soon Aston Martin was back out of the picture, as well. Next week’s example hails from an unlikely ally to MI6, Germany. It’s Pierce Brosnan’s BMW 750iL from Tomorrow Never Dies.