While Bond fever begins in earnest, you’ll need to be both rich and quick to indulge
From an early age, Iain Robertson became totally fascinated by James Bond 007 and the movie franchise has provided a superb launch-pad, not just for British carmakers but also witting Japanese, German and American auto manufacturers.
Our late summer visit to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on 21st August 1965 was a family outing like no other. My parents took me for a posh lunch at the North British Hotel, before walking the length of Princes Street to visit the toy department at Binns. Although it was an expensive model at the time (19s 6d), the gold 1/46th-scale Aston Martin DB5 was special beyond belief. Why it was gold, when the actual car in the movie was silver, resided in Corgi Toys’ determination to celebrate its connection to ‘Goldfinger’.
At the depression of three ‘buttons’, extending front bumpers and machine-guns would appear, a flip-open roof panel and strongly sprung ejector device would jet ‘Oddjob’ from the passenger seat, while the rear bulletproof shield would burst from the boot compartment. However, from the windswept bleachers on Edinburgh Castle’s parade ground, the best was yet to come…an appearance, with the Royal Marine Commandos, of James Bond’s Aston, which accelerated raucously up and down the tarmac, receiving rapturous applause.
No less than 4m examples of the miniature DB5 found homes and 56 years later the much-loved full-size car is the most famous item of movie memorabilia in the world. For what it is worth, my original mint and boxed toy has been valued as highly as £600 at the market’s peak, although it is a more realistic £250-£300 today. In fact, Aston Martin has just celebrated it again in a full-scale replica of the original Corgi box, parked alongside the Battersea Power Station development, in London. However, it is not the only one, as the gorgeous and rare Toyota 2000GT was also celebrated similarly in period. Lotus benefited from its Esprit exposure and BMW launched its Z3 model off the back of a Bond film, while several punchy Land Rover Defenders and even Jaguar prototypes have debuted in the films over the years.
To a certain extent, Land Rover has little choice but to support the film in its latest airing, the 25th production in the enduring JB007 series, ‘No Time To Die’. A total run of 300 celebratory versions of the latest Defender, in its most powerful, 520bhp form, will be released imminently. However, just 15 of them will be kept for the UK market; five Defender 90s and 10 Defender 110s. The rest will satisfy the cravings of other territories.
The sinister and stealthy Defender V8 Bond Edition features an extended Black Pack, complete with 22.0-inch diameter Gloss Black alloy wheels, SVR signature Xenon Blue front brake calipers and a ‘Defender 007’ rear badge. However, its bespoke elements extend to the practical cabin, with illuminated ‘Defender 007’ treadplates and a specially developed start-up animation for the latest Pivi Pro infotainment touchscreen, which honours Land Rover’s long-standing partnership with the James Bond 007 franchise. Each of the cars also sports unique ‘007’ puddle lamp graphics, projected onto the road surface from below the door mirrors.
It is certain to be snaffled up eagerly by the 300 potential buyers around the world, despite stated price tags of £105,395 (90) and £108,040 (110). The Defender V8 Bond Edition’s interior features laser etched detailing that it is ‘one of 300’ and also the SV Bespoke logo, as each vehicle is commissioned by the factory personalisation specialists at SV Bespoke, in the UK.
According to Finbar McFall, Land Rover’s Brand Director: “The Land Rover Defender V8 Bond Edition is an exclusive take on the most powerful production Defender that we have ever manufactured and has been inspired by the equally bespoke examples that appear on screen in ‘No Time To Die’. It represents a meeting of two great British brands and is a unique celebration of Land Rover’s 38-year association with James Bond.”
Defenders are at the heart of the action in the new movie, just as they have been in previous films, alongside a couple of Range Rover Sport SVRs. A Range Rover Classic and Land Rover Series III also appear in the film, which will be released in cinemas around the world from 30th September 2021. In all cases, the cars have been provided by Land Rover to the production team, several of them requiring additional features, such as heavy-duty suspension, more open exhausts, uprated brakes and roll-cages that are appropriate to the demands placed on them by the movie’s stunt crew.
Based on the recently launched Defender V8, the Bond Edition is powered by a 5.0-litre 520bhp supercharged petrol engine, which produces 461lbs ft of torque and drives through an eight-speed fully-automatic transmission. The short-wheelbase Defender V8 90 variant can accelerate from 0-60mph in a mere 4.9s, before reaching its maximum speed of 149mph. The car delivers enticing levels of performance and driver engagement by combining the V8 with specially developed suspension and gearbox tuning to create the fastest and most dynamically rewarding Defender yet. The 110 is only marginally slower, despite carrying a weight penalty.
‘No Time To Die’ is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and stars Daniel Craig, who has returned for his fifth and final fling in the title role as Ian Fleming’s irrepressible James Bond 007. The film will be released in UK cinemas through Universal Pictures International, although its North American debut takes place a week later on 8th October 2021, from Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) via their United Artists Releasing banner.
You can be certain that the product marketing team at Land Rover will have worked, as they have done so in the past, with several toy and model-making specialists, to release various scale versions of the movie cars, which will be retailed at ridiculously steep prices through the company’s accessories catalogue. The Defenders are unlikely to attract as much attention as the DB5. Movie memorabilia has become a veritable profit-spinner for several companies and the ability to acquire a replica of a ‘star car’ is beguiling enough for Land Rover to make 300 full-size Defenders available to its world market.