by James Price, images by Doug Breithaupt
In 1997, Johnny Lightning created a series of cars associated with the James Bond films. The James Bond films went on hiatus between 1989 and 1995, and after this dry spell, there was renewed interest in the character. Addressing the nostalgia for older cars and James Bond films, Johnny Lightning went into the film archives and chose a number of models from Bond films dating back to 1962. The cars in the release are as follows:
Sunbeam Alpine/Tiger Mark V (Dr. No): Actually, Bond drove a rented, light blue Alpine Mark I in the film, as he is chased by a late '30's Cadillac hearse along mountain roads in Jamaica. Johnny Lightning chose to model the Mark V Tiger, a more popular car among collectors than the Alpine. Rootes Group, the British manufacturer of Sunbeam cars, created the Tiger by putting a Ford 289 ci V8 and drivetrain into an Alpine body and chassis. About t ,his time, Chrysler bought Rootes Group. Unfortunately, Chrysler did not have a V8 that would fit into the small Tiger body. Chrysler did not want to continuing producing a Ford engined car, so the Tiger was discontinued in 1967, and the Alpine a year later.
Aston Martin DB5 ("Goldfinger", 1964/"Thunderball", 1965): Bond is issued this car by the British Secret Service, and the vehicle has a number of non-standard features, including a bullet proof shield that rises from the trunk, and an ejector seat. Johnny Lightning has molded these non-working features into the casting. Unlike most of the other cars that Johnny Lightning cast for this series, this model is a bit disappointing. The body is too narrow, and this narrowness is accentuated by wheels set deep into the fenders. Later models featured wheels that were less recessed. Johnny Lightning issued a virtually identical car is used for a tie-in to the film "Goldeneye". The real "Goldfinger" cars (of which there were tw ßo made to feature in the film, and an additional two made for publicity appearances), were owned by Aston Martin and loaned to the film company, which added all the special gadgets. When the primary film car was returned to Aston Martin at the end of the sixties, and its gadgets were stripped by Aston Martin before its sale, and a future owner had replica gadgets installed.
Ford Mustang ("Goldfinger", 1964): While driving the Aston Martin described above, Bond chases this Mustang along roads in the Swiss Alps. Though many Mustangs have been created in 1/64 scale, Johnny Lightning captured the proportions of the original pony car perfectly.
Toyota 2000GT ("You Only Live Twice", 1967): In this film set almost entirely in Japan, Bond's Japanese contact drives this rare convertible 2000GT. When the film was in pre-production, both Toyota and General Motors approached the producers about featuring, respectively, a 2000GT and a Camaro in the film. The producers preferred the 2000GT, but were going to use the Camaro because it was available as a convertible. In response, Toyota proposed a 2000GT convertible, custom-built specifically for the film. Reportedly, two 2000GTs were built, but only one original is known to exist today, and is displayed at Toyota's private company museum in Tokyo. In the late nineties, a James Bond fan in England built a replica, which is displayed at a British museum featuring film and television vehicles.
1969 Mercury Cougar ("On Her Majesty's Secret Service", 1969): Bond's car in this film was an Aston-Martin DBS, which was the successor to the DB5 and the DB6. This Mercury Cougar was driven by the heroine, a French countess. So detailed is this model that it includes an oval "Country of Origin" sticker on the trunk, as seen in the film. The model is a bit stubby, and not as accurate as the Corgi model of the '69 Cougar, created at the time of the film's release.
1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 ("Di amonds Are Forever", 1971): Bond uses this car to elude police as he drives through downtown Las Vegas. The Johnny Lightning version is a nice example of the somewhat overlooked '71-'73 'Stang, with an opening hood and replica '429 Cobra Jet' powerplant. Though the model has nice details, the turn-signal indicators in the grille are round instead of rectangular, giving the model a slightly strange appearance.
Lotus Esprit ("The Spy Who Loved Me", 1977): Another "company car", Bond uses this vehicle to evade an enemy motorcycle, car, and helicopter on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. The film features the then-current S1 model, which had the much "cleaner" Giugiaro lines, though Johnny Lightning modeled the S4, which was manufactured beginning in 1988, and is the same casting for Lotus Esprit ("For Your Eyes Only", 1981): Two Lotus Esprit Turbos feature in this film. A white one which is blown up early in the movie, to be replaced by this bronze model driven in the Italian ski resort village of Cortina. Both models have been made by Johnny Lightning. Though several Lotus Esprit S1 model have been made, Johnny Lightning is the only one to have created the S4, which is now going out of production. The Johnny Lightning model, as usual, is a well-detailed representation of the car.
Aston Martin Volante ("The Living Daylights", 1987): A new Bond (Timothy Dalton), uses a new car from an old manufacturer: Aston Martin. This is another example of a car that may have been forgotten by model makers had it not been for Bond. The Johnny Lightning model is a nice example of the film car, which was depicted as having a removable hardtop roof, retractable skis to aid traction on snow, and hidden missiles, among its armory.
Aston Martin DB5 ("Goldeneye", 1995): Another new Bond (Pierce Brosnan), uses the original "Bond car", the DB5, as his personal car. The film car was not the original used in the sixties, but cars located and restored by the film makers. The difference between Johnny Lightning's Goldfinger/Thunderball car is the registration number on the license plate.
Aston Martin DB5
1964 Ford Mustang
1969 Mercury Cougar
1971 Ford Mustang
Aston Martin Volante