The Classic Cars That Sean Connery Made So Famous

The James Bond franchise is iconic and cherished. Bond films are some of the rare gems that transcend generations and can be enjoyed by parents, children, and grandparents alike. The first Bond actor, Sean Connery, proved adept at establishing the character and became one of the most loved actors of all time in the UK. The movies are adapted from original novels by Ian Fleming, and they capitalize on one of the most popular genres of fiction, the spy thriller.

Bond films are, above all, just fun. They don't have to be believable or accurate so long as they have action, suspense, and romance. Bond always has a girl...or two. And Bond always has toys, including cars. The car chases are plentiful and fan favorites. No Bond movie is complete without a few chase scenes featuring daring escapes and perilous feats of skill. Sean Connery built his career as Bond and went on to be one of Hollywood's favorite leading men. His character also put front and center many cars, especially those outfitted by MI6 research and development division Q Branch. Bond cars always go on to become immensely popular and iconic alongside their association with the film. As James Bond, Connery drove these cars to fame in his six films as the character.

Dr. No - Sunbeam Alpine

Sean Connery introduces the world to James Bond in 1962's Dr. No. As the inaugural film of the series, some of the things we have come to know and love about the franchise are not yet canonized, including cars with gadgets. Q doesn't make an appearance until later. However, we do get the car chase and the svelt hero making it away from the baddies in the nick of time. All it takes is quick thinking, fast reflexes, and adept driving skills along with a now-classic British sports car, the Sunbeam Alpine.

The Sunbeam is a fun and attractive car cut from the mold of the proper British roadster and fits well with the esteemed Britishness exuded by James Bond. Hemmings tells us the model in Dr. No features a 1.6-liter engine fed by a couple of Zenith downdraft carburetors that help it punch out a bit under 100 horsepower. It is not a super fast car, but its size gives it cat-like reflexes and enough zip to get out of its own way. In the film, it is even enough to help it evade a couple of baddies in a LaSalle hearse that somehow manages to end up tumbling down a hill and exploding into flames, but not before transforming into a completely different model of hearse when it leaves the roadway. Technology for cars has come a long way as it also has for film production.

From Russia With Love - Bentley 3.5 liter Drophead Coupe Park Ward

Bond's second installment brings us straight into the cold war and fille the adventures with all the perils of the Evil Empire and Russian assassins lurking everywhere, ready to pounce on our trusted MI6 agent. This film is just as action-packed as the first and comes complete with chases, but they tend to happen with other modes of transport this time. Our protagonist's own vehicle makes but a brief appearance. In his first scene of the movie, he is seen with a beautiful Bentley 3 ½ Liter Drophead Coupe Park Ward fully equipped with a car phone, a rather rare and state-of-the-art piece of kit for the time. While the car is as British as it comes, a genuine MI6 agent would scoff at the idea that they should be so lucky as to be issued a vehicle of the aristocracy.

Elsewhere in the movie can be seen some other interesting rides. Bond gets chauffeured from the Turkish airport in a stately Rolls Royce Silver Wraith. This would have been relatively new at the time, and a rather nice way to be driven away from the airport. But following close behind are a couple of villains in one of the most interesting cars of the film, A Citroen Traction Avant, the first production car ever to be offered with front-wheel-drive. As gripping as the action is in all the Bond films, they are a treasure for movie-loving car spotters everywhere.

Goldfinger - Aston Martin DB5

Sean Connery as James Bond really comes into his own with the third installment of the series, as does the movie franchise itself. Goldfinger cements the villainous group known as SPECTRE as the eternal trouble makers and Bond as the one who always saves the day and just in the nick of time. However, Goldfinger introduces another star that will become as famous as Connery, the Aston Martin DB5. This is the first time Q delivers to Bond a car fully equipped with all the spycraft a good MI6 agent could want. It has equipment for creating oil slicks, a bullet-deflecting shield, onboard machine guns, and an ejector seat. The inclusion of the quintessential British gentleman's grand tourer in the movie raised the profile of Aston Martin exponentially.

The influence of this movie and its car is hard to understate. The Bond DB5 has been immortalized in toys and models for decades since its release. But the most impressive tribute to the Bond DB5 is the decision by Aston Martin to recreate full-scale, hand-built examples of the original car equipped with all the added Q features in prop form. It has faux gun cannons up front, a smoke machine, a water spraying oil slick pump, and a console-mounted radar screen inside. It even has an opening in the roof for the ejector seat, however, the seat is firmly bolted to the car.

Thunderball - Aston Martin DB5

Thunderball was a smashing success for the James Bond franchise and, by the time of its release, it had become a cinema juggernaut. With a production budget of $9 million, the movie brought in total receipts of $141 million, according to The Numbers. Having taken on creating a super-spy vehicle with the Aston Martin in the previous film, Q opted to keep it around for 007 in Thunderball. However, for car lovers, this movie is full of fantastic classic steel.

A brief look at the Internet Movie Car Database –- yes, that exists -– Thunderball captures on film many cars including such highlights as the 007 DB5, 1965 Ford Country Squire Wagon, 65 Mustang, Ford Consul, Ford Zephyr, Lincoln Continental Executive, a soviet Volga M-22, a Triumph Herald 1200, and also a 1965 BSA Lightning motorcycle with aero fairing and optional rocket launchers installed. The highlight of the car chases involves a 1957 Ford Fairline 500 Skyliner that would be a coveted ride at any car show in mid-America. IT is also one of the better chase scenes where the Fairlane gives the Aston a real challenge up until a mysterious femme fatale creeps up on her modified BSA motorcycle and blasts the Ford from behind with her onboard rocket launcher. But for American steel, it doesn't get much better than the Fairlane, considering one unusually rare optioned car sold recently at Sotheby's for $176,000, a rather high auction result for 1950s American cars.

You only live twice - Toyota 2000 GT

You Only Live Twice serves up all the best elements of a classic spy thriller. It is packed with spacecraft, agents of espionage, international arms smuggling, and ninjas, the best action film trope of all. However, as glorious as all the comically bad marksmanship and grand explosions are, for some, nothing in this film can beat the glorious Toyota 2000 GT, driven by Japanese secret service agent Aki.

In this film, Bond finds himself in Japan attempting to uncover a plot involving a hijacked spacecraft. During his journey, an assassination is ordered on him as he leaves an office complex and is then pursued by Japanese assassins. Coming to his rescue just in time is Aki in a specially equipped Toyota 2000 GT convertible. This car is arguably the best Toyota ever created and it is a shame that it was such a limited production run, because that means few of its fans will ever see it, much less drive it.

The 2000 GT is a fastback car, but the car seen in the film is a spider. Two cars were cut down and turned into convertibles specifically for Bond and Aki, and remain the only droptop versions. Today, the 2000 GT is a highly valued treasure and the chance to buy one does not happen often. Jalopnik reported that one had hit the virtual auction block on Bring A Trailer recently with a detailed rundown of the car's highlights and history. The final winning bid on the car was $850K, so entry into the 2000 GT club is not cheap.

Diamonds are Forever - Ford Mustang Mach I

One of the benefits of being a member of the British intelligence service is traveling all over the globe in search of trouble. There is no better place to find trouble than sin city itself — Las Vegas, Nevada. In Diamonds Are Forever, agent 007 finds himself in the middle of a diamond smuggling operation spanning the globe from South Africa to Amsterdam and then on to Vegas. Of course, the diamonds are not ultimately being procured to make jewelry, they are part of a more sinister plot by SPECTRE to create a space-based laser weapon. Despite the ridiculous nature of SPECTRE's villainous attempt to wreak havoc on the world's governments, Bond wreaks havoc on the streets of Las Vegas in an attempt to flee from the henchmen sent to eliminate the threat that is 007 in one of the best examples of an American muscle car.

Bond films tend to lean on the more prominent European marques for the cars of the hero and villains alike. But with the action taking place stateside, a true-blue American muscle car is appropriate. In this case, Street Muscle Magazine outlines the details of the car, noting that it took producers up to five cars to get all the shots they wanted. Of the five, at least one was outfitted with the massive 429 cu. in. Cobra Jet V8, which would have delivered superior speed to most other cars on the road at the time and it easily outperforms the lumbering giant Ford Custom police cruisers of the best chase scene in the film.

Bonus: Never Say Never Again - Yamaha Seca 650 Turbo

This last one is a bonus for a couple of reasons. First is that this time Q has given Bond a specially outfitted version of the Yamaha SECA 650 Turbo motorcycle with which to go after the baddies. The other reason is the fact that this last James Bond film done by Sean Connery was filmed twelve years after Connery had last played Bond and several films had been made with Roger Moore in the lead role. There are several reasons why this film came about but what is more interesting is the turbo-powered motorcycle.

Rare is the production motorcycle offered with a turbo, but in the early eighties, a few Japanese manufacturers tried it. One of them was Yamaha, which made the Seca 650 Turbo and it was used as the basis for a well-equipped secret agent bike modified by Q Branch. While the Yamaha's only factory-equipped secret weapon is the turbo, Bond's bike is fitted with special tire guards and a rocket booster but still isn't enough for him to catch up with the villain in the mid-engined Renault R5, driven by SPECTRE agent Fatima Blush.

The Seca turbo was not long for this world. According to How Stuff Works, the bikes promised more than they delivered and ultimately did not sell well enough to keep them around. Regardless, they are great for anyone who likes bikes with classic 1980s aesthetic and a modest budget as they are not particularly collectible and fairly cheap, unlike the Renault R5 that can go for more than $100K for the right model.