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The vehicles that made 007 a superstar

Michael Schumacher retired with seven world championships, but 007 is up to 21 movies — with six different macho men in the role — and still going hard.

During the past quarter-century and in 21 official films, Bond has been the target of more bad guys on wheels than anyone else in cinema history, yet he has always managed to escape without a scratch.

And he has often pulled a nifty U-turn on the opposition with some sort of car trickery, from concealed machine guns on a 1960s Aston Martin to an '80s Lotus Esprit that morphed into a submarine — and even a remote-controlled BMW 7 Series in the '90s.

Now he's back for the noughties, and doing it again in the remake of Casino Royale, which opened in cinemas just before Christmas. And he's back in an Aston Martin, just like the early days.

The hype for the new 007 movie got me thinking not only about Bond's wheelwork in the latest British supercar, but also the dream car of my childhood: a scale model of the Aston Martin DB5 Bond drove in the 1960s.

It came with all the Bond gear — revolving number plates, concealed machine guns, tyre-slashers, a bulletproof rear shield and even an ejector seat.

In 1965, Corgi released its scale model of the gadget-laden DB5, and by 1968 nearly four million copies had been sold.

It remains Corgi's best-known model, and I couldn't afford it.

The release of the 21st-century Casino Royale has triggered a lot of talk about 007 and cars and movies.

The model-making machine is already rolling again, with scaled-down copies of the DBS and even re-done — but de-gadgeted — replicas of the original DB5. And this time, there was a tiny Aston in my Christmas stocking.

It's worth looking at what Bond cameos have done for car companies.

BMW experienced plenty of benefit when it signed a multi-movie deal that began with its baby Z3 convertible. The world saw the car first when it was driven on the big screen by Bond. That deal continued with the Z8 convertible and the controversially styled 7, and even a BMW motorcycle.

But then Britain bounced back for the last of Pierce Brosnan's appearances as Bond, when he slid back into an Aston and the baddies strapped into a rocket-equipped Jaguar.

This time around, Agent 007 is driving a gorgeous new DBS, and there's even a special appearance by an original DB5.

A poll has been conducted for the television series Top Gear on the most popular car chase in Bond movie history. And the winner is ... no, not the Aston. Not a Jaguar, nor the Lotus, nor even one of the BMWs.

First choice was a crazy little Citroen 2CV that suffered all sorts of punishment — including being cut in half — when it was driven by Roger Moore in the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only.


The four-wheeled co-stars:

Dr No (1962): Sunbeam Alpine, Chevrolet Bel Airconvertible

From Russia With Love (1963): Bentley Mark IV

Goldfinger (1964): Aston Martin DB5, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes 190SL, Lincoln Continental, Ford Mustang convertible, Rolls-Royce Phantom III

Thunderball (1965): Aston Martin DB5, Ford Mustang convertible, BSA Lightning motorcycle, gyrocopter

1967 You Only Live Twice: Toyota 2000 GT, BMW CS

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969): Aston Martin DBS, Mercury Cougar, Bentley S2 Continental, Rolls-Royce Corniche

Diamonds Are Forever (1971): Ford Mustang Mach 1, Triumph Stag, moon buggy

Live And Let Die (1973): double-decker London bus, Chevrolet Impala convertible, MiniMoke

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974): AMC Hornet and Matador, Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): Lotus Esprit, Wetbike concept, Ford Cortina Ghia, Mini Moke

Moonraker (1979): Bentley Mark IV, Rolls-Royce SilverWraith

For Your Eyes Only (1981): Citroen 2CV, Lotus Esprit Turbo, Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

Octopussy (1983): Mercedes-Benz 250 SE, BMW 5 Series, Alfa Romeo GTV

A View To A Kill (1985): Renault taxi, Ford LTD, Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, Chevrolet Corvette C4

The Living Daylights (1987): Aston Martin DBS and V8 Vantage, Audi 200 Quattro

Licence To Kill (1989): Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, Kenworth petrol tanker

GoldenEye (1995): BMW Z3, Aston Martin DB5, Russian tank, Ferrari 355

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): Aston Martin DB5, BMW 750iL, BMW R1200C motorcycle

The World Is Not Enough (1999): BMW Z8, Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Die Another Day (2002): Aston Martin Vanquish, Jaguar XKR, Ford Thunderbird convertible

Casino Royale (2006): Aston Martin DBS and DB5, Jaguar E-type roadster, Fiat Panda 4x4, Ford Transit, Ford Mondeo

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