James Bond: 50 years of cars and technology

To celebrate 50 years of James Bond movies, we have been to the “Live and let Drive” event in London where we had the chance to discuss the cars and technologies featured in the films with the Automotive Segment team of Toshiba Electronics Europe.

So what does Toshiba have in common with the automotive industry? As Peter Lieberwirth, Toshiba's Europe Head of Automotive Segment, explained: “There's a variety of products that we offer to the automotive market, they're not only for infotainment but also for safety features...Hard Disk Drive HDD, processor drives that controls the TFT display, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Pedestrian Recognition and Night Vision systems.” Most of the technologies listed have appeared on many of the cars used by 007, but let's see which have been the most innovative of the bunch.

Aston Martin DB5: a classic, one of the most iconic and beloved vehicles of the Bond franchising. In “Goldfinger” the car was equipped with different gadgets, like machine guns, radar, bullet-proof shield, oil dispenser and the unforgettable passenger ejector seat. From this point cars have been the centre focus of Q's innovative technologies and also for spectators around the world.

We also see the DB5 in “GoldenEye”, this time featuring a champagne-chiller fridge and a voicemail system. Speaking technology systems, now standard on top-range vehicles provide the driver with essential information about the car and its environment and also allow to send messages, emails and make calls.

The DB5 makes another appearance on the latest Bond movie “Skyfall”, before being destroyed for good in an epic explosion. This time the technology was so subtle that no one would have even know it existed. The Aston Martin was in fact a replica, created by a European company with a 3D printer, in order not to damage the priceless original.


Bentley Mark IV: is he car in “From Russia with Love”, which features the first in-car phone. Of course the phone was a corded model, but let's not forget that for 1963 it was a true novelty. In today's vehicles it's possible to connect our smartphones to an infotainment system via Bluetooth technology or USB.

Lotus Esprit: is the car that Bond drives into the water and turns into a submarine in “The Spy Who Loved Me”. Obviously we haven't seen this kind of innovation on the market, yet and neither we will see a self-destruction system that equips the Lotus Esprit Turbo version of “For Your Eyes Only”.

Aston Martin V8 Volante driven by Bond in “The Living Daylights” has the first screen display, with maps and which he uses to launch two missiles. Also he activates a system to improve traction whilst driving on an icy road. It is now standard to have a sat-nav system in our cars as well as ABS active safety system and electronic power steering (EPS).

BMW Z3: in "Goldeneye", didn't see much of Q's modification, a part from the standard self-destruct system and radar, but became a hit with the public. BMW 750iL: in "Tomorrow Never Dies" is not the greatest looking car of the lot, but the equipment was still top of the range. Roof mounted missiles, tear gas dispensers and cable snippers that come out from the BMW logo placed on the hood. Not your standard safety features for a quiet journey home after work!


BMW Z8: as seen in “The World Is Not Enough”. The car is equipped with sonic laser beam, to intercept conversations, rockets, fitted behind the headlights and can be controlled by a remote handset and also drive itself towards the handset itself, using sensors. Are we far from an automatically driven car? Not so much, as high-range cars have now intelligent parking assist systems, which can steer themselves into a parking space with little human input.

Aston Martin DBS: used in “Casino Royale” featured a retractable draw containing a heart defibrillator. It's not that we really need a defibrillator for our everyday purposes, but it might be useful to have Battery management technology that can secure enough power for the car's heart, the motor.

It seems the most famous fictional British spy had all the gadgetry and equipment he needed for his dangerous missions. If we may say, there are a couple of features he didn't have that would have been quite helpful: with pedestrian recognition and night vision he would have spotted the beautiful Vesper bound in the middle of the road and avoided her being kidnapped in “Casino Royale”.


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