Select Page The Spy Who Drove Me By PHIL PATTON

POOR Q. In one James Bond film after another, the top secret service engineer has provided whiz-bang gizmos for the cars that Agent 007 drives. The Aston Martin Vanquish in the latest, 20th, movie, “Die Another Day,” has machine guns under the hood and rockets behind the grille — nothing new in the Bond world. The film’s really novel effects are not Q’s inventions, but marketing gimmicks. Lasers and atomic ray guns are passé; brand synergy is what drives Bond these days. Advertisement Alt Text

The Bond films, of course, are the ultimate product placement for automakers. This time, Ford is the “supplier of choice,” thanks to its ownership of Aston Martin, the small British automaker that supplied the most notable of all Bond cars, the DB5 grand tourer made famous in “Goldfinger.” (A replica of that car is displayed in the International Spy Museum in Washington.)

In “Die Another Day,” which opens on Nov. 22, Pierce Brosnan drives the Vanquish, Halle Berry has a Thunderbird and there’s a Jaguar XKR for the villain, Zao (Rick Yune). Advertisements for all three cars are tied to the film, and there are cameos by other cars from the Ford Motor Company’s stable: a Range Rover, a Volvo S60 and an S80, the Ford StreetKa from Europe, a vintage Fairlane and a GT40 racecar.

Such a wealth of on-screen placements from one company hasn’t been seen since the short-lived “Viper” television series, in which the Dodge sports car was chased by cops in Chryslers, leaving scattered Jeeps and Voyager minivans in its wake.

Ford’s bonds have been downgraded on Wall Street, but Bond’s Fords are a blue-chip product placement. Estimates of the value of the deal among Ford; Eon Productions, which owns the rights to James Bond; and MGM, the studio distributing the film, have ranged from $40 million (in Variety) to $140 million (in The Daily Mail in London).

But Ford isn’t talking. “We did not pay to have the cars in the films,” said Paige Johnson, a Ford spokeswoman. “The deal is about mutually beneficial marketing.” That red-blooded males are drawn to the cars that 007 drives is a proposition road-tested by four decades of the Bond oeuvre. But Ford is going further. “We are putting a special focus on the Bond-girl persona for this film,” said Jan Valentic, vice president for global marketing at Ford.

A Ford news release asks, “What woman hasn’t dreamed of being a Bond girl?” The company needs only 700 dreamers; that’s all the limited-edition T-Bird’s it plans to sell. (The number is 007 backwards.)

The T-Bird in the film has no armament. “The only bombshell in the Thunderbird is Halle Berry,” Ms. Johnson said. The car’s coral paint, she noted, matches the coral two-piece bathing suit that Ms. Berry wears in the film. Those who buy the car can get matching Revlon cosmetics — the Limited Edition 007 Color Collection — or go for contrast with From Russia With Love Red.

Those with less active fantasy lives or more limited means can settle for one-eighteenth-scale models of the cars, which join a vast fleet of Bond toy cars offered by Corgi ( and other model makers that serve as a reminder of how many 007 cars there have been over 40 years (and 5 actors playing Bond). Here are some of them:

DR. NO (1962) Sean Connery drives an unassuming blue Sunbeam Alpine.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963) As in most of the original Ian Fleming novels, 007 shows up in a black Bentley.

GOLDFINGER (1964) Aston Martin makes its Bond-movie debut. The “silver birch” DB5 has an ejection seat (“Don’t touch that button!”) as well as devices that create smokescreens and oil slicks. Goldfinger prefers a Rolls-Royce Phantom III, and his sidekick, Odd Job, shows up in a Ford Ranchero.

THUNDERBALL (1965) The Aston Martin DB5.

CASINO ROYALE (1967) A vintage Bentley, black and supercharged.

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967) Bond gets a rare Toyota 2000GT, a limited-edition supercar converted to a convertible for this film.

ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (1969) George Lazenby and Diana Rigg leave their wedding in an Aston Martin DBS. They also traverse Swiss ski slopes in a Mercury Cougar. (The Cougar was an offbeat choice, as was Mr. Lazenby; neither made an encore.)

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971) Bond’s DB5 is in the repair shop, so he rents a Mustang Mach I to screech through Las Vegas.

LIVE AND LET DIE (1973) Roger Moore’s debut. He drives a London double-decker bus.

MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974) To chase villains in an American Motors Matador — which turns into an airplane — Bond grabs an A.M.C. Hornet. It makes a 360-degree corkscrew leap across a ruined bridge.

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) A Lotus Esprit got the role after an executive pointedly parked one in front of the producer, Albert Broccoli. The car also becomes a submarine.

MOONRAKER (1979) A moon buggy.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981) Lotus Esprit Turbo. In one sequence, Bond drives a Citroën 2CV that takes a lot of abuse but keeps on ticking.

OCTOPUSSY (1983) Bond is chased in a stolen Alfa Romeo GTV by police on the Avus speedway in Berlin. He also shows up in a VW Beetle.

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983) Sean Connery makes his curtain call with a black Bentley and a Yamaha XJ 650 Turbo motorcycle.

A VIEW TO A KILL (1985) Roger Moore again, this time in a Renault 11 taxi.

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987) Timothy Dalton, in the first of two Bond appearances, drives an Aston Martin V-8 Vantage and a V-8 Volante. The latter car has rockets and a stash of spikes that puncture pursuers’ tires.

LICENCE TO KILL (1989) Bond is mostly chauffeured in a blue Rolls, but ends up driving a Kenworth tractor-trailer full of gasoline and drugs.

GOLDENEYE (1995) The BMW Z3 roadster makes a brief appearance, upstaged by Bond (now Pierce Brosnan) in the Aston Martin DB5 revived from earlier films. It races a Ferrari 355 GTS down the Corniche highway above Monte Carlo.

TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997) The BMW 750iL can be driven remotely by an Ericsson cellphone.

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (1999) Bond’s BMW Z8 is sawed in half.