Six Classic James Bond Car Chases Re-Imagined

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 5 months ago

5 min read

  • Creative
  • Film & TV
Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger front-right-4 National Motor Museum Beaulieu

WhoCanFixMyCar have retraced some of the early 007 car chase scenes to see where James Bond would have ended up if he had been steering a real car.

In the older Bond films, instead of hitting the road to stage an actual car chase, most of these scenes were filmed in a studio, as you can see in the image below. This was because there were many places where it was practically impossible to take an entire film crew, such as Times Square.

The team at WhoCanFixMyCar thought we’d retrace some of the early 007 car chase scenes to see where Bond and his accomplices would have really ended up if he had been steering a real car! The red routes below show where the car would have ended up if the steering input was real, and the white routes show the path the car takes according to the background and wider filming shots of the scene.

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Credit: London Audio Visual


Dr. No

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When people think of the first Bond car, they think of the Aston Martin DB5. But in fact, it was the modest Sunbeam Alpine that Bond put through its paces in Dr. No. The chase begins when, after leaving the apartment of Miss Taro, an enemy spy, Bond finds himself being pursued by an assailant.

The rear projection used in this chase is not just a technical detail, but a memorable part of Bond history. It's one of the most iconic images of Sean Connery as Bond, so much so that it made its way onto the cover of some DVD versions when they were released. Connery 'controls' the car well in the scene's opening until he encounters tight curves and hairpins. Then, the exhilarating chaos begins.


Goldfinger

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We pick up the action as Bond is about to launch the ejector seat after he had famously been rather comically threatened with a life-changing laser beam injury. As Bond finds himself outside Goldfinger’s car factory, there are a lot of tight corners and long straights, making it easier for the rear projection to keep up with what is happening.

However, as the car turns left before Bond vertically dispatches of his captor, he forgets to turn left on the steering wheel in his Aston Martin DB5, knocking the rest of the car chase totally out of sync.


Thunderball

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After Bond is stranded in the middle of nowhere, he is generously picked up by a stranger on the side of the road. Unbeknownst to him, it is an agent of Spectre called Fiona Volpe. During the ride to Bond’s hotel, Volpe tries to scare him by driving at incredible speeds through the forest while they chat, testing him to see if he can hold his nerve.

The road is relatively straight, but this doesn’t stop the same old issues from appearing. During the first right-hand turn, the steering wheel remains turned even though the car is now on a straight. This means the rest of the journey is thrown off course, and in reality, they would have ended up miles away from where they wanted to go had they been driving a real car.


You Only Live Twice

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After leaving a meeting at Osato Chemicals & Engineering, where Bond was discovered to be an undercover spy and in possession of a gun, Mr. Osato orders him to be killed. Luckily, as the bad guys were about to dispatch him, Aki pulled up in the now famous convertible Toyota 2000GT and whisked him to safety.

The tracked action begins just as Aki calls Tiger, the head of the Japanese Secret Service, for assistance – the kind of assistance that involves a helicopter and a large, car-sized magnet. Overall, Aki does well to match the movements of the steering wheel with the rear projection. The only issue is that she tends to favour turning right on straight roads, which means they end up a little off course.


On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

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This is the third chase on our list where Bond isn't behind the wheel. James and his soon-to-be wife Tracy are trying to escape the clutches of Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s goons, and since they are in the Alps during ski season, things start to get a little slippery. As Tracy battles to steer the car against the snow, the chase begins to go west when they enter the icy back roads.

As they emerge, the car takes a long, sweeping right as if to show the car was going over or under the road, which doesn’t make sense as there is no bridge or tunnel. But as the vehicle turns right, Tracy turns left on the steering wheel, leaving the couple back where they started.


The Man With The Golden Gun

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By 1974, you’d be forgiven for thinking the franchise would be getting a little better at the rear projection technique, but you’d be very wrong. The Man With The Golden Gun’s car chase begins with Bond picking up Sheriff JW Pepper, a Bond cult hero, in a car showroom and chasing Francisco Scaramanga through the streets of Thailand.

We tracked the direction of the projected background and the motion of the steering wheel up to the famous corkscrew jump at the end of the scene. With the exception of the chase in Goldfinger, which went astray because of one wrong turn, this car chase is the most confusing. Bond would have travelled in a different direction should the way he was steering be believed!


Conclusion

Rear projection was used in Bond films up to License To Kill in 1989, although they had begun to master the technique as time passed. Nowadays, Bond producers use CGI to fill any gaps in the surrounding environment. It seems that out of the three car chases that James Bond was driving and the three that his female accomplices were at the wheel, Bond messes up far more. Thunderball and The Man With The Golden Gun are the worst examples.

To create the graphics above, we tracked Bond’s journey by comparing shots of the car's location to the movement of the steering wheel. Although we plotted each route as accurately as possible, this guide is only intended as a bit of fun.


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