When Bond drove BMWs

As Skyfall hits the theatres, it’s time to look back at James Bond’s foray into Bimmerdom, when the world’s most famous spy traded his signature Aston Martin for a Z8 and other BMWs.

December 14, 2012
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Bond. James Bond.

It’s a name more strongly associated with Aston Martin than with any other marque—and indeed he’s driving Astons in Skyfall, released in November 2012—but Bond has also driven a few BMWs over the course of his career as the most famous spy in the movies.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England launched the largest exhibition of James Bond movie vehicles in the world. Entitled “Bond in Motion. 50 vehicles. 50 Years,” the exhibition included the iconic Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, the submarine Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me, the two-wheeling Ford Mustang Mach 1 from Diamonds are Forever, the aerobatic autogyro “Little Nellie” from You Only Live Twice and the phenomenal folding wing Acrostar jet from Octopussy.

It also included three BMWs driven by Pierce Brosnan as Bond, namely the remote control, Stinger missile-firing 750iL and the helicopter-jumping R1200C motorcycle from 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, plus the rocket-firing Z8 from 1999’s The World Is Not Enough.

To find out more about these BMWs and to discover how those breathtaking stunts were executed, we chatted with the man who coordinated and scripted them, the legendary Vic Armstrong, and the rider who performed them, French stunt rider extraordinaire Jean-Pierre Goy.

From 5ers in Octopussy to a Z3 in Golden Eye

The relationship between Bond and BMW goes back a bit further, actually, to 1983’s Octopussy, for which BMW supplied six 5 Series cars and a boxer motorcycle. In the film, Bond, played by Roger Moore, commandeers an Alfa Romeo GTV6 and is pursued at high speed through the outskirts of West Berlin en route to USAF Feldstadt by two green and white “Polizei” Bimmers and the motorcycle. The driving is spectacular as the four vehicles fishtail, slide and slither through heavy traffic, with near-misses aplenty. We asked what happened to those cars after filming, but BMW didn’t know.

Twelve years later, BMW got its first official placement in Golden Eye, which saw Bond himself driving a BMW for the first time. Since the Z3 hadn’t been officially launched at the time of filming, two pre-production models were used.

Introducing Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan, to the Z3, Q tells him that it has “all points radar, self-destruct system and naturally, all the usual refinements.”

“This I am particularly proud of,” Q adds. “Behind the headlights, Stinger missiles.”

Also from Issue 112

  • Bobby Rahal's 3.2 CSL Batmobile
  • M5 vs. M6 vs. Alpina B7 at Laguna Seca
  • Willisch on making of M5, M6
  • BMW's new 3-cylinder engine
  • Buyer's Guide: $25,000 BMWs
  • Peter Nam's 1 Series M Coupe
  • E3, E23, E32, E38 7 Series comparison
  • BavAuto Show&Shine
  • E3 BMW Bertone Spicup concept
  • BMW wins 3 DTM titles
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