Celebrating the long-awaited release of the movie No Time to Die, what better location to display a world-class collection of Bond’s get-away machinery than a stone’s throw from Tinsel Town at the Petersen Automobile Museum. The tribute was in two parts; a spectacular exhibit, “Bond in Motion,” the first official showing in the U.S. with original vehicles from the Bond film franchise. Secondly, a “cruise-in” for car owners of marques associated with Bond’s famous vehicles like Aston Martin, Lotus, Land Rover, etc.
Regarding the museum exhibit, all displays were authentic pieces used in the films versus tributes or replicas. Some of the exhibit’s highlights include:
Submersible Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me.
1978 Glastron boat from Moonraker.
1964 Aston Martin DB5 from Golden Eye.
Aston Martin DB10 from Spectre.
“Q” Jet boat from The World is Not Enough.
1973 Glastron boat from Live and Let Die.
1971 Ford Mustang from Diamonds Are Forever.
Aston Martin V8 from The Living Daylights.
Aston Martin Vanquish from Die Another Day.
As for the Cruise-in, a relatively small but ardent group of car enthusiasts brought their British Iron to pay tribute to the decades of cars from Mr. “Shaken, not stirred.” The local Lotus club was in full force, bringing numerous Esprits, modern Eliges, and even a real 1950s model Eleven racecar. A pair of TVRs parked side by side caught my eye; not a common sight even in the rich automotive playground of Southern California. Of course, no James Bond event would be worth its tea and crumpets without some Aston Martins to remind us of Bond’s most cherished car. As for a childhood favorite, who can’t appreciate a row of Lotus Esprits to remind us of the “submarine car,” Roger Moore piloted to escape the bad guys in The Spy Who Loved Me?
Slowly wandering through Bond in Motion on the Petersen’s ground floor, you can’t help but be amazed at the collection of cars, boats, and aircraft amassed for this exhibit. Staring at the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in Golden Eye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Skyfall, Spectre, and No Time To Die, one feels a bit of sentiment, realizing what an icon the DB5 is to the 007 legend. No matter which direction you move, walking through the exhibit is a bit like getting a tour of “Q’s” toy shop. From sub-machine guns mounted on an Aston Martin Vanquish (Die Another Day) to the floating mines on the stern of the Glastron/Carlson speedboat (Moonraker), Ian Fleming’s fictional character used all of them to escape villains the world over.
From the enthusiasm of those who came to the cruise-in to the wonderment of touring the exhibit inside, it was like a personalized Bond-a-thon for everyone involved. As the exhibit’s abstract explains, all this glitter and gold resulted from Bond’s creator, writer Ian Fleming. Born in 1908 and passing in 1964, he was only alive to see a few of his fictional stories brought to film (Dr. No and From Russian with Love). His early novels starting with Casino Royale were not overnight sensations, but his luck turned on March 17, 1961, when Life magazine published U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s Top-10 book list. Included on the list was Fleming’s novel From Russia, with Love. Fleming’s popularity surged, giving him well-deserved accolades shortly before he died. Whichever your favorite Bond flick may be, here’s a toast to the cars that helped him complete his many missions. Now just be careful which button you push! The Bond in Motion exhibit closes in October 2022.