james bond car

We ranked 6 James Bond car gadgets for their actual practicality

5th May, 2020

April was supposed to be the month that the newest James Bond film was due to hit our screens, but as we’re sure we don’t need to tell you, the state of Spring 2020 so far has rather put paid to that. So instead, allow us to indulge you in a bit of classic Bond reminiscence by looking back on his classic automotive gadgets, and taking them far too seriously. We settled on three categories; practicality, subtlety and overall awesomeness. Would you happily install these in your vehicle, or would you be too worried about they might end up scrapping your car?

1. Rocket propulsion

Practicality – 3
Subtlety – 5
Awesomeness – 4

We’ll start with something simple, and to be honest probably fairly easy to implement for the geniuses at Q branch. This one was first deployed by Timothy Dalton’s Bond in The Living Daylights, who uses it to ramp himself up and over a military blockade. But to be honest, most of us would find it fairly handy for beating the rush hour traffic, taking a few valuable minutes out of the school run, or shaving a few hours off cross-country Christmas visits. Steering might become a problem though, and inertia is not your friend at those speeds. Come to think of it, there are plenty of reasons that in the real world we tend to install these things on world-class dragsters, rather than Vauxhall Corsas.

2. Active camouflage

Practicality – 1
Subtlety – 5
Awesomeness – 5

In terms of showstopping gadgets, active camouflage is certainly one that gets heads turning. Or rather, it doesn’t. It made its film debut in the enjoyably ludicrous Die Another Day – a film made at the turn of the millennium, and boy don’t you just know it. With blockbusters like the Matrix and Armageddon hitting cinemas, the early 2000s was the quintessential age of over-the-top special effects, and this 2002 Bond film has them in spades. Enter the Aston Martin Vanquish, which acted as the perfect vehicle for the then-cutting-edge CGI. Bond employed his active camouflage to great effect against an arch rival in the sprawling ice-fields and frozen palace of the film’s climax.

Now the problem is that realistically, deserted wide open spaces are really the best place for it. The best thing about active camouflage is that no one can see you, and the worst thing is that no one can see you. Sure, you might occasionally be tempted to use it to zip by a speed camera, but that advantage is more than outweighed by the idea of an oblivious motorist ploughing straight into you – whether they’re changing lanes, trying to turn across you, or simply driving up the overtake lane behind you. Come to think of it, this constant and potentially lethal danger would be present in almost every conceivable environment in which you’d care to use it, so it’s probably one to keep on the back burner, short of any final showdowns with your nemesis.

3. Rear mounted gatling gun

Practicality – 3
Subtlety – 0
Awesomeness – 5

Another solid entry from Die Another Day, this one technically isn’t a Bond gadget as it’s installed on the Jaguar XKR of the aforementioned villain, Tang Ling Zao. We’ll give it a pass though, because it indisputably maxes out the awesomeness gauge. Let’s be honest, we’re sure you can think of plenty of scenarios in which you’d find it useful in everyday driving too. It’s the ultimate catharsis for road rage, and certainly nobody would dare cut you up on the M6. Or abruptly slow down to look for an address. Or park anywhere near your assigned space. In fact, we’d hedge a bet as to say everyone would be on their very best behaviour around you, all the time.

Not that you’d get that far out onto the roads in the first place. The UK has some of the strictest firearm laws in the world, so if we’ve banned handguns, it’s a surefire bet that the hulking great instrument of fiery destruction will draw a few curious glances from the law.

4. Run flat tyres

Practicality – 5
Subtlety – 5
Awesomeness – 2

They may not be much to look at, but run-flat tyres are a pretty underrated gadget of Bond’s, if you ask us. It’s a well-worn criticism of Bond movies that he tends to find just the right scenarios to deploy every one of his (often single-use) gadgets, but run-flat tyres are definitely one of the most universally useful. Even to people who aren’t super-suave super-spies. In fact, so obvious are their uses that they spent relatively little time in the realm of fiction, and you can buy them for your own car today. Equally useful whether you’re fleeing from cat-loving criminal masterminds or you’ve just hit a particularly nasty pothole on the way back from the office.

5. Ejector seat

Practicality – 2
Subtlety – 5
Awesomeness – 4

Ejector seats aren’t science fiction either, but Bond tends to use them to get rid of troublesome passengers. Case in point; he first uses it in Goldfinger to rid himself of a would-be assassin. The roof opens and the chair catapults the guy up and out. It’s a pretty neat trick. So how would you use it in real life?

Well, hopefully you wouldn’t be using to get rid of assassins, but maybe you’re a pioneering taxi driver, or a time-pressed parent, and you’re just looking for a slightly more efficient way of dropping off your passengers at your destination. Or maybe they’re side-seat driving. Maybe you just don’t like them. Whatever the case, you want them gone.

Unfortunately, there are several problems with using it in cars in real life. If you’ve watched the Goldfinger scene with that assassin, you’ll note that the seat doesn’t go with him. So assuming it’s just a human flying out the top of your car alone, then just as with the rocket boost, physics isn’t going to be kind to them. It takes quite a lot of explosive energy to make that kind of mechanism work, and it’s really tricky to build up in that kind of confined space if the chair stays where it is. Not to mention the unlikelihood of a full size adult human going neatly through that gap. They’d also need to be heavily armoured to survive the landing, and go out at an angle to avoid dropping down in the road.

Alternatively, the seat goes with them. OK, slightly easier but it’s still got to obey Newton’s Second Law of Motion. We’ve got some precedent – when fighter pilot ejects, they’re exposed to acceleration of up to 30g, for the very briefest of seconds. We won’t get too much into the science, but 1g is about the equivalent of the force of normal Earth gravity. That means if you’d like your passenger to survive, they need specialist protective equipment. And they’re still likely to suffer back problems afterwards (as 25% of ejected pilots do). Plus, you’ll need to go back and get the seat.

The other alternative involves using it as a mechanism for the driver, but if you manoeuvre your vehicle like someone who might need an ejector seat then frankly you really shouldn’t be behind the wheel anyway.

6. Self-destruct system

Practicality – 0
Subtlety – 0
Awesomeness – 5

It was clearly a late Friday afternoon at Q branch when they thought of this one. It was presented to Bond in the Living Daylights as a self-destruct system that primarily served as an anti-theft device, and technically we guess you could say that it works in that sense. Yes. It certainly is a viable anti-theft device. But it has some flaws. Do… do we need to explain the flaws? We feel pretty confident in saying that most of us tend to rely on slightly less terminal means of preventing our motors from being lifted, preferably ones that don’t send you sky-high if you knock them with your elbow or something.

We’re sure the discerning Commander Bond wasn’t too thrilled about using the self-destruct either, especially since it involved the destruction of a beautiful V8 Vantage Volante. Q was apparently unmoved by this though, since his Friday feeling vibes then manifested themselves in the form of a similar ‘gadget’ in the 1995 film Goldeneye, this time on a wonderful BMW Z3 roadster. But at least in that film, the self-destruct was never employed. In fact, none of the gadgets were used at all. Q apparently got the hint after that, since the self-destruct has never been featured on another Bond car to date.

An honourable mention goes to the submarine, which would be spectacularly helpful in skipping the long queues on the way out of Dover, but we’ve not included that here as technically it’s less of a gadget than a very specialised car (which disqualifies it from our completely arbitrary rules).

Personally here at Scrap Car Network, we’re best at scrapping cars rather than submarines – so if you own the former rather than the latter, rest assured we can help you get the very best price. All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and when you’re ready, you can find out the value of your car in as little as 10 seconds!

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