The First Bond Car Was Actually This Monster Bentley


James Bond is almost synonymous with Aston Martin, and his newest ride, the Aston Martin DB10, is a gorgeous one-off created specifically for the movie Spectre. It calls to mind the glorious DB5 from Goldfinger, a car that is almost as iconic as 007 himself.

But before James Bond was the dashing and debonair secret agent on the silver screen, he was the tormented and brooding assassin of Ian Fleming’s novels. And in those books, he drove a Bentley. In Fleming’s first 007 novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953, Bond tooled around in a 1931 4.5 Litre Blower Bentley. It wasn’t so sleek or sexy as the Astons that Bond would come to be known for, but it was among the finest cars of its day and just the thing for getting around in all due haste with style.

Bond was, in Casino Royale, something of a car nut and his beloved Bentley was “his only personal hobby.” He bought it in 1933 and kept it in storage while serving in World War II. “Bond drove it hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure.”

Built by Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, one of the famous “Bentley Boys” who raced the cars at Le Mans, the supercharged, two-ton Blower was based on the brand’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race car. It produced 240 horsepower from a 4.4-liter inline-four motor with a four-speed unsynchronized manual transmission. The supercharger, which forced more air into the engine to generate more power (thus “Blower”) was gigantic and easily spotted at the front of the car, between the headlights. Top speed was in the 120 mph range, impressive for the era. Just 55 supercharged units of the car were produced between 1929 and 1931.

Despite the Blower’s success, Walter Owen Bentley, founder of the company, was actually quite disappointed by the car. He strongly disliked forced induction and believed there is no replacement for displacement. But he had by that point lost control of his company and was powerless to stop Birkin’s work.

So why the shift from Bentley to Aston? According to Top Gear’s 50 Years of Bond Cars special, Fleming received a letter from a fan who encouraged the author to “have the decency to fix him up with a decent bit of machinery.” The chap suggested an Aston Martin DB3. Fleming made the switch in 1959’s Goldfinger, and when the famous film was made in 1964, the producers went for the more current DB5. The rest, as they say is history.

Blower Bentleys can fetch well over a million dollars these days, with the famous DB5’s commanding quite a bit more. The DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball sold for $4 million at auction a few years ago.