Bond to drive a Bentley
A Bentley T, to be specific. Vintage 1967.
Though it is little known to those who have acquaintance with James Bond only through movies, Bond was a Bentley man. He originally drove a Bentley in Ian Fleming’s very first Bond novel, Casino Royale. The Aston Martin most often associated with Bond didn’t appear until later, and is explained as an upgrade from the older Bentley, which was Bond’s personal car, described in Casino Royale as his only real “hobby.”
Now there is a new Bond book, this one authored by Sebastian Faulks, a noted Bond historian, to be published as a tribute to Fleming marking the 100th year after Fleming’s birth.
The book is not, however, set in the modern day, when Bond would have the option of a Continental GT, a vehicle befitting both his image and his station. No, the book is set historically, in 1967.
In 1967, all Bentleys were the model “T,” available as a sedan or two-door coupe with coachwork by James Young and Mulliner Park Ward, the in-house custom body builders of Rolls-Royce. Except for radiator shell, the T was identical to the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.
Though the appearance of Bond in recent years driving BMWs seemed almost disrespectful to the Empire’s automotive past, returning to the Bentley brand is very consistent with Bond’s personality.
Bond drove three Bentleys in the various novels. The first, the one in Casino Royale, was a 1930 supercharged 4 ½ liter model (the legendary “blower Bentley,” one of a mere 55 manufactured) in “battleship grey” which Bond had bought in 1933 and stored during World War II. The car met its demise in Moonraker, crushed by a load of fourteen tons of newsprint dropped from a truck. The second Bentley, also battleship grey, was a 1953 Bentley Mark VI with an open-style body which Bond purchases at the end of Moonraker as a replacement.
The third Bentley appears in Thunderball, also as Bond’s personal vehicle. In fact, this car shows Bond’s personal taste in automobiles quite plalnly. This Bentley is a Continental Mark II with an R-Type chassis which Bond purchases after the car has been wrecked by its original owner. He has it repaired and refitted with a “trim, rather square convertible two-seater affair," bodied to his specifications by the British firm Mulliner. Also painted battleship grey, the interior is black leather, and it sports larger exhausts to give it a more aggressive sound. The car reappears in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, fitted with a supercharger – against the direct advice of Rolls-Royce. Driving that car at 125 mph, Bond chases down the girl who, albeit briefly, becomes his wife.
Though the T was rather dowdy in appearance, there was one Bentley T that might be worthy of James Bond: the Pininafarina Bentley T1 Coupe Speciale. There was only one, made in 1968 and fitted with a one-off body by Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina.
Built for the Turin Motor Show the original price of the car would be the equal of $500,000 in today’s money.
Of course, for Bond, it would have to be repainted.