Petersen Automotive Museum Showcasing James Bond Vehicles
The Courier’s Fine Autos Contributor, Tim Lappen, is the Fine Autos Editor for Haute Living, Haute Time, Haute Residence and Haute Auto and a partner in a Century City law firm, where he chairs his firm’s Family Office Group and the Luxury Home Group. He can be reached at TLappen@gmail.com and his website is
I was lucky enough to have a pre-opening private preview of the newest exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum, an incredible display of over 20 screen-used vehicles from many James Bond 007 films over the past six decades. I have to say that, especially after viewing the seriously thrashed Aston Martin DBS from “Quantum of Solace” and then taking in the beauty of the Aston Martin DB10 (a model only made for the Bond film “Spectre”), the experience left me both shaken and stirred. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
First, an admission – I love the James Bond stories and started reading them not that long after Ian Fleming started creating them in the early 1950s. Bond was like Superman to me but, of course, the cars were far better. The stories were fantastical, for sure, but the special effects of the films – well, the opening credits alone were worth the price of admission.
But even with today’s computer-generated images (“CGI”), some of the best effects come from at least some of the scenes being generated IRL (in real life). And the newest Petersen exhibit shows us some pretty amazing vehicles, which mostly were created solely so that they could be used in (and often destroyed by) the making of the movie.
The Museum’s exhibit, which is being billed as “The Largest Official Bond Car Display!” is entitled “Bond In Motion.” It is the official collection of original James Bond vehicles and is produced in collaboration with EON Production and the Ian Fleming Foundation. It is scheduled to run through October 20, 2022. Museum visitors can experience the exhibit without any extra charge over and above their entrance ticket.
And what a terrific assemblage of special vehicles it is (no surprise there). Most of the cars are Aston Martins (again, not a shocker) with a smattering of others, like a few BMW cars and bikes, plus a Jaguar which was driven by the bad guy (“Zao”) in “Die Another Day,” in the incredible chase scene across a frozen lake. Luckily (especially for the audience), both Bond’s Aston and Zao’s cars had special weaponry, like rockets, a Gatling gun and more. There was one very special trick —Bond’s Aston featured a disappearing technique that allowed the car to become invisible as long as the option was enabled. Who wouldn’t want that on occasion?
A big part of what makes this exhibit so special is that each vehicle (there are also some motorcycles, boats, submersibles and those flying machines that enabled 007 to engage in all of those chases and escapes) is accompanied by a repeating loop of film in which the vehicle was seen. These terrific visual components help even those of us who were and are big fans remember how the vehicle was used in the movie. It’s a great feature and makes the exhibit really interesting.
Of course, no article about the Bond cars would be complete without a big mention of the 1964 Aston Martin DB5, which made its debut in the movie “Goldfinger.” The unprecedented gadgetry includes gun barrels which could be used after flipping down the front turn-signal indicators, a three-way revolving license place, a smokescreen generator, an oil slick creation device and a bullet shield behind the rear window. The main attraction in this car—and the feature which ushered in major trickery and cleverness in the Bond franchise —was the ejection seat which, when one flipped open the gearshift knob and hit the button, launched the passenger into the wild blue yonder.
Want to see the latest and greatest Bond vehicles? The 25th film in the James Bond franchise, “No Time To Die,” is now showing.
The Petersen Museum is right on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax Boulevards, literally across the street from the just-opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
Here are some of the many vehicles featured in this special exhibit but the show is so grand that only a part of the exhibit could be showcased here.
All photos by ted7