When James Bond used a Saab 900 Turbo

James Bond aka Agent 007 has been known to use many cars, with the Aston Martin DB5 being his favourite. Over the years, we saw him provided with different cars by ‘Q’ but never a Saab. In the Ian Fleming books turned to movies, the Swedish car never appeared. But in another modernised 007 series by John Gardner, Bond did drive a Saab 900.

Modernising the James Bond series
Gardner had started the series with the idea of bringing Bond into modern times as the original stories by Fleming were set in the 1950s and 1960s (and maybe 1970s). Gardner brought Bond into the 1980s, by which time the world was a different place, and Saab presented what it called ‘The Most Intelligent Car Ever Built’ (and this was long before Google Assistant was born).

Licence Renewed [1981] and Saab 900

Bond’s own property
However, from what we know, the 900 was not actually provided by ‘Q’ (so he was never told to bring it back in one piece) but was Bond’s personal property. Having found the weaponised DB5 of ‘Goldfinger’ very useful in getting rid of pursuers, he had his Saab armoured and installed many features but these were defensive and not things like machine guns in the headlights.

James Bond Aston Martin DB5
The Aston Martin DB5 modified by ‘Q’ included a smokescreen-generator but the Saab had vents which sprayed teargas.

There were vents to release tear gas around the car, strengthened bumpers for ramming, a special filter to neutralise poisonous gases, oxygen masks and also those rotating numberplates. Of course, there were compartments inside for him to keep his guns and other weapons, and a mobilephone as well as text-messaging system (it was 1981).

James Bond Saab 900 from PinterestJames Bond Saab 900 from Pinterest

When TURBO was the new thing
The car itself started off as a standard 3-door 900 launched in 1978 and Bond’s was the 1980 model which, by then, had a turbocharged engine. Turbo was something new then and Saab capitalised on its benefits which boosted output without using bigger displacement. Bond’s car had the new 5-speed transmission, and the engine was tuned to the ‘Law Enforcement specs’ that the carmaker offered in cars supplied to police forces (same as Volvo). This gave a top speed capability of around 270 km/h.

If you read the book, you will learn that the 900 (nicknamed ‘Silver Beast’) was used in some of the usual situations Bond usually finds himself in – being chased by the bad guys – and crashed. Of course, being as safe as Saab proclaimed its cars to be – plus the added safety features – Bond survived. In the next book, the car re-appeared, somehow repaired and ready for action again.

MotaAuto on Facebook

Saab capitalised on association
Toyota never really took full advantage of its 2000GT being used by Bond in ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967) though it certainly must have impressed the world to see a Japanese car like that in the 1960s. Saab, however, was delighted with the potential of greater exposure for its 900 and readily agreed to participate in promotional activities for the books.

Toyota 2000 GT [1967] with James Bond
Unlike Saab, Toyota never really capitalised on James Bond using its rare 2000 GT sportscar in ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967).
The company even built a car just like the one described in the book with all the special features, using it for promotional activities that were said to have helped boost sales for many years. Certainly, it was easier for many to own a ‘Bond Car’ than buying an Aston Martin.

Saab 900 advertisement [1982]

Saab 9000 CD [1995]
Bond liked his 900 and had many adventures with it, but in later years, he did what many people do – he changed his car. It was for another Saab – the 9000 CD of the mid-1990s – which seemed more like a sedate ‘retirement car’ for less dramatic driving.
Many ‘celebrity cars’ are often lost over time if they are not sold off to collectors. This almost happened to the Bond Saab when the company went bankrupt in 2011. There was to be an auction of all the cars in its museum to pay of the debts but the city of Trollhattan, Saab AB (a different company), and The Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Memorial Fund jointly bid  US$4.15 million and took possession of the cars and the museum. The Bond car, along with around 120 others, were retained on-site and the Saab Car Museum continues operating today in the place where Saab used to make its cars.

Saab Car Museum
Saab Car Museum in Trollhattan, Sweden.

‘Celebrity Range Rover’ inspires EV convertible by Lunaz

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Stories