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Carmakers Race to Put Bond Inside Their Wheels

50 Years of James Bond

There’s been fierce competition among automakers over the past five decades to get James Bond behind the wheel of their vehicles — especially after manufacturers started seeing sales spike with every new adventure.

Aston Martin will provide 007’s hero car for the 11th time in November’s “Skyfall,” with Daniel Craig driving the 1964 DB5 that first appeared in “Goldfinger,” then returned for four more films.

But the British car company has found that money has sometimes meant more than tradition. (In Ian Fleming’s books, Bond drives a Bentley.)

Germany’s BMW locked down a pricey three-picture product placement pact starting with 1995’s “GoldenEye,” which helped launch its Z3 roadster.

Sales quickly took off after the film’s bow, encouraging BMW to promote its other sedans, sports cars and motorcycles through “Tomorrow Never Dies” and “The World Is Not Enough.”

For 2002’s “Die Another Day,” Ford Motor Co. ponied up a reported $35 million to steal away the deal, putting Bond back inside an Aston Martin for that film, as well as “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.” The new pact allowed the company to promote Fords and luxury brands Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover, all of which it owned at the time.

Jaguar and Land Rover are now owned by Indian carmaker Tata Motors, which realized the power of Bond’s impact on sales on the brands over the years and secured prominent placements in “Skyfall.”

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Julian Jenkins, VP, Aston Martin the Americas, says his company is delighted to James Bond continue his “love affair” with Aston Martin.

“Aston Martin is now synonymous with James Bond and undoubtedly this long-standing association has enabled us to achieve greater brand awareness globally, particularly in areas and nations where our brand is perhaps otherwise not as well known.”

Bond’s cars have become so iconic that General Motors’ senior exterior designer Nick David — a native of Wales — said at the New York Auto Show in April that the spy’s Aston Martins inspired him while designing the Chevrolet Tru 140S concept car. “Especially the ones in the films where you have guns coming out of the headlamps and all the gadgets,” he said. “I think that’s every little boy’s dream.” Bond’s original Aston Martin certainly was Harry Yeaggy’s dream to own.

The Ohio banker ponied up $4.6 million at a Sotheby’s auction, in 2010, to buy the DB5 in an auction. The car, driven by Sean Connery, still features a revolving license plate and working oil slick sprayer, nail spreader and smoke screen.

“This is the most famous car in the world. Not the best, but it is very special,” he said at the time.

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