User:Opera hat/Bond Bentleys

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

For incorporation into List of James Bond vehicles#Bentley

Though the Aston Martin DB5 is forever associated with James Bond as a result of its appearances in the popular film series, in Ian Fleming's original novels Bond's own personal car was invariably a Bentley. Fleming himself drove a Bentley and was pictured sitting in one on the cover of Life magazine, 7 October 1966[1].

Bentley 4½ Litre[edit]

Bond's first Bentley was a 4½ litre with a supercharger, a type also known as the "Blower Bentley". Bond's devotion to the car is evident from its first mention in the 1953 novel Casino Royale:

Bond's car was his only personal hobby. One of the last of the 4½-litre Bentleys with the supercharger by Amherst-Villiers, he had bought it almost new in 1933 and had kept it in careful storage through the war. It was still serviced every year and, in London, a former Bentley mechanic, who worked in a garage near Bond's Chelsea flat, tended it with jealous care. Bond drove it hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure. It was a battleship-grey convertible coupé, which really did convert, and it was capable of touring at ninety with thirty miles an hour in reserve.[2]

The 4½ litre was produced from 1926 to 1930. A Roots type supercharger (or "blower") designed by Charles Amherst Villiers[3] was added to fifty adapted Bentleys for the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans[4]. In Casino Royale, Bond uses the car to pursue Le Chiffre, who has abducted Vesper Lynd[5], but crashes it when caltrops dropped by Le Chiffre cause him to lose control. It is later towed off to Rouen for repairs.[6] The Bentley is back in action by the start of Live and Let Die (1954), in which it is given an incorrect production date of 1933[7]. In Moonraker (1955), the 1930 date for the car is confirmed[8], and it is mentioned that Bond keeps a long-barrelled .45 Colt Army Special in a concealed holster below the dashboard[9]. Bond compares his battered old car with Hugo Drax's gleaming Mercedes Type 300 S, and muses on Bentley's successes on the racetrack before being "civilised" by Rolls-Royce[10]; luxury car manufacturers Rolls-Royce Limited had bought the bankrupt Bentley Motors in 1931 and thereafter Bentleys were increasingly just Rolls-Royces with a different badge. It is during a car chase in Moonraker that Drax's henchman Krebs cuts twenty five-mile rolls of newsprint free from a lorry to fall straight into the path of Bond's pursuing car, with hugely destructive results[9]. After long and faithful service, the car is finally written off, and goes "to its grave in a Maidstone garage"[11].

In the 1967 film Casino Royale, David Niven as Sir James Bond drives a Bentley 4½ litre[12], one of the few respects in which this spoof adaptation is faithful to the novel.

Bentley Mark VI[edit]

This was the car Bond bought to replace his old 4½ litre in the novel Moonraker. Bond had considered buying a new "Rolls-Bentley Convertible" with the money he won from Hugo Drax at bridge, estimating it would cost him £5,000[13], and his new 1953 Mark VI open tourer is delivered at the end of the novel. Like the old car, it is battleship-grey, and has dark blue leather upholstery[11].

"The Locomotive"[edit]

Bond's customised Bentley is first introduced in the 1961 novel Thunderball, and is described as follows:

Bond had the most selfish car in England. It was a Mark II Continental Bentley that some rich idiot had married to a telegraph pole on the Great West Road. Bond had bought the bits for £1,500 and Rolls had straightened the bend in the chassis and fitted new clockwork—the Mark IV engine with 9.5 compression. Then Bond had gone to Mulliners with £3,000, which was half his total capital, and they had sawn off the old cramped sports saloon body and had fitted a trim, rather square convertible two-seater affair, power-operated, with only two large armed bucket seats in black leather. The rest of the blunt end was all knife-edged, rather ugly, boot. The car was painted in rough, not gloss, battleship grey and the upholstery was black morocco. She went like a bird and a bomb and Bond loved her more than all the women at present in his life rolled, if that were feasible, together.[14]

Bond describes himself how he considered the Sports Saloon to be "really only [a] two-seater" with "damned little luggage-space" and got Mulliners to change his Continental into a "real two-seater with plenty of boot", admitting that the result is a "selfish car", in the short story "The Living Daylights"[15]. Other modifications Bond requested were two-inch pipes on the twin exhausts, giving a solid growl instead of "the old soft flutter of the marque" and an octagonal silver bolt on the bonnet instead of the Bentley "winged B" mascot[14]. The car was not kept in a garage but "slept out of doors in front of his flat and was required to start immediately, in all weathers, and, after that, stay on the road"[14]. Because it must be ready for locomotion at all times, Bond dubs it "The Locomotive".

There is some ambiguity as to precisely which models were used to make up "the Locomotive". The name "Mark II" has never been used. The Bentley Continental name was first used in 1952 for a variation on the Bentley R Type, and was the most expensive production car in the world at the time. This identification is confirmed in the 1963 novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service, when the car is described as "the old Continental Bentley—the ‘R’ type chassis with the big 6 engine and a 13:40 back-axle ratio—that he had now been driving for three years"[16]. The name "Mark IV" has never been used either, but this number could logically refer to the predecessor of the Mark V: this model is more commonly known as the Bentley 4¼ Litre and was produced from 1936 to 1939. If the 4¼ Litre is the "Mark IV" Fleming refers to, this would mean that Bond had a twenty-year-old engine put in his five-year-old car (and did the 4¼ engine have a 9.5:1 compression ratio?). Alternatively, "Mark IV" could simply be a misprint for "Mark VI".

Another modification mentioned in On Her Majesty's Secret Service is an Arnott supercharger controlled by a magnetic clutch operated by a red switch on the dashboard[16]. These superchargers were made by a company called Carburettors Ltd of Grange Road, London NW10[17] and were named after Arnott Garages[18]. The supercharger was fitted by Bond's "pet expert" at the Secret Service car pool against the advice of Rolls-Royce, who feared that the engine would not be able to take the strain and withdrew all their guarantees when Bond went ahead anyway. Bond used the supercharger to take the Locomotive up to 125 miles per hour for the first time when racing the future Mrs Bond, Countess "Tracy" di Vicenzo, along the N1 towards Royale-les-Eaux. Though Bond makes up ground on the straight as a result, the Locomotive's live axle is unfavourably compared to the de Dion axle on Tracy's Lancia Flaminia Zagato Spyder when cornering through the villages, and this, added to Tracy's superior driving, ensures she wins the race[16].

Other Bentleys[edit]

The SPECTRE minion Count Lippe is mentioned driving a mauve Bentley of unspecified model in Thunderball (1961)[19]. The 1963 film of From Russia with Love shows Bond's car as a Bentley 3½ Litre[20], fitted with a car phone by which Headquarters can contact him. In the 1983 film Never Say Never Again, Bond drives a 1937 Bentley 4¼ Litre[21].

Summary[edit]

Novel Vehicle Owner
Casino Royale Bentley 4½ Litre James Bond
Live and Let Die James Bond
Moonraker James Bond
Bentley Mark VI James Bond
Thunderball unspecified Bentley Count Lippe
customised Bentley R Type Continental James Bond
"The Living Daylights" James Bond
On Her Majesty's Secret Service James Bond
James Bond: The Authorised Biography of 007 Bentley 4½ Litre Marthe de Brandt, James Bond
Role of Honour Bentley Mulsanne Turbo James Bond
Double or Die Bentley 4½ Litre James Bond
Film Vehicle Owner
From Russia with Love Bentley 3½ Litre James Bond
Casino Royale Bentley 4½ Litre Sir James Bond
Never Say Never Again Bentley 4¼ Litre James Bond

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.2neatmagazines.com/covers/1966cover/1966-Oct-7.jpg
  2. ^ Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, Ch. 5
  3. ^ http://www.classicdriver.com/uk/magazine/popup_print.asp?print=true&lPageID=3200&id=10593
  4. ^ http://www.hartlandsecure.co.uk/brooklands/shop/item.asp?itemid=18
  5. ^ Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, Ch. 10
  6. ^ Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, Ch. 22
  7. ^ Ian Fleming, Live and Let Die, Ch. 2
  8. ^ Ian Fleming, Moonraker, Ch. 1
  9. ^ a b Ian Fleming, Moonraker, Ch. 20
  10. ^ Ian Fleming, Moonraker, Ch. 18
  11. ^ a b Ian Fleming, Moonraker, Ch. 25
  12. ^ http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_36785-Bentley-41-2-Litre-Blower-Special.html
  13. ^ Ian Fleming, Moonraker, Ch. 8
  14. ^ a b c Ian Fleming, Thunderball, Ch. 7
  15. ^ Ian Fleming, short story "The Living Daylights", collected in Octopussy and The Living Daylights
  16. ^ a b c Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Ch. 2
  17. ^ http://www.mgcars.org.uk/mgtd/mgtd_accessories_superchargers.htm
  18. ^ http://www.almar.easynet.be/Arnott.htm
  19. ^ Ian Fleming, Thunderball, Ch.2
  20. ^ http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_2973-Bentley-31-2-Litre.html
  21. ^ http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_76164-Bentley-41-4-Litre-B129JY-1937.html