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Bond cars on a budget

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The 1977 Lotus Esprit S1 (in white) featured in “The Spy Who Loved Me” is likely the second most recognizable of James Bond’s many famous cars. (Hagerty/Evan Klein)

Who among us hasn't daydreamed about being like 007, even if it only extends to ordering the occasional dry vodka martini — shaken, not stirred? Cars have been such a huge part of the Bond series, which now extends for 50 years and 23 official films. Fancy a silver Aston Martin DB5 like Bond's? Better have $750,000 or so handy. But for those of us whose Universal Exports credit card has lower limits, there's a host of Bond cars for every budget. Here are some of our favorites: 

1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 – “Diamonds are Forever” ($26,000)

The ’71-73 Mustang was arguably the most controversial of the first-generation Mustangs. Still great looking but quite a bit larger than its predecessors, as was Sean Connery in 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever.” You could argue that both Connery and the Mustang had put on a bit of a middle-age spread.

1961 Sunbeam Alpine Series II – “Dr. No” ($18,100)

The Sunbeam Alpine was said to be the only sports car available to the producers of “Dr. No” when they were shooting in Jamaica. A little softer and more luxurious than a Triumph or an MG of the day, the Alpine was stylish and well-built.

Check more stories and videos about the cars of James Bond here.

1974 AMC Hornet – “The Man with the Golden Gun” ($1,900)

AMC stepped up in a big way when “The Man with the Golden Gun” was in production with some very prominent product placement. In the famous scene, Commander Bond commandeers a new Hornet from an AMC showroom in Hong Kong. Mayhem ensues. Not many AMCs of the era survived, in part because Chrysler disposed of large numbers of spare parts after buying AMC.

1981 Alfa Romeo GTV6 – “Octopussy” ($7,300 )

Alfa Romeos are great driver’s cars, and the great stunt driver Remy Julienne put the new six-cylinder GT to good use in a chase scene from the movie “Octopussy” after Bond swipes the car and heads off the detonation of a nuclear bomb. GTV6s are among the greatest collector car bargains available now — a starter Ferrari for under five grand.

1977 Lotus Esprit S1 – “The Spy Who Loved Me” ($11,800)

After the famous Aston Martin DB5, the white Lotus Esprit is probably the sexiest and most recognized Bond car. In the movies, the Lotus was capable of transforming into a submarine and offing the helicopter henchwoman of the villain with missiles that shot out of the trunk. In real life, a bad Esprit is capable of doing villainous things to your bank account. Pay up for a good one — they’re surprisingly reasonable.

1996 BMW Z3 – “GoldenEye” ($5,400)

The little Z3 roadster was BMW’s entry into the convertible sports car world. They did it with a bang from a marketing standpoint, and inserted this little bit of advertising into Pierce Brosnan’s debut as 007. Sales of the Z3 spiked, and even today, Z3s in the James Bond colors of blue and tan bring a little bit more on the used car market.

1997 BMW 750 IL – “Tomorrow Never Dies” ($4,750)

BMW owned product placement in the Bond franchise during the early Brosnan era (strange to see a British spy driving a German car, but money talks). The Seven Series was and is the ultimate BMW executive sedan. This version was the last of the pretty ones before controversial stylist Chris Bangle remade the BMW line in his bizarre image.

1969 Mercury Cougar XR7 – “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” ($23,500)

The red Cougar (which appeared to be a 428 Cobra Jet XR7) wasn’t actually driven by Bond, but by his future wife, the exciting but unstable Tracy Di Vincenza, played by Diana Rigg. Even though Bond didn’t actually drive it, the car garnered the most screen time of any car in the movie (far more than Bond’s Aston Martin DBS), and Tracy drove it with the skill and verve of Bond himself.

1980 Lotus Esprit Turbo – “For Your Eyes Only” ($14,750)

Q, Bond, Lotus and Lotus’ customers all thought that the basic Esprit was in need of more power, and that’s precisely what the Esprit got in the form of an exhaust-driven turbocharger. It catapulted the car from a junior supercar to a real heavyweight capable of taking on the best from Italy without resorting to eight or 12 cylinders. Bond’s car was fitted with a rather extreme anti-theft/anti-tamper device — the car exploded when the villain’s henchman tried to break in.

2002 Aston Martin Vanquish – “Die Another Day” ($85,000)

The DB7 was a very nice car with a price tag that was competitive with the top-of-the-line Mercedes SL of the day. The Vanquish was Aston Martin’s return to true supercar status, so it was a natural that when Bond returned to Aston Martin after several movies in the woods with BMW the Vanquish would be his ride. While anything but cheap, through the miracle of depreciation, a car that once pushed 230 grand can now be had for about $85,000. Not bad for a true James Bond Aston Martin.

Read: James Bond's best car deserves and Encore

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