When you pull up at a Ford dealership, you’re there for one major reason: you want to get a fantastic vehicle. But not just any fantastic vehicle – you want the one that’s going to make you look cool. For some of us, that’s a Ford F-150 Raptor; for others, that’s a Ford Explorer ST. But for James Bond, agent 007 of the British Secret Service, the coolest Ford was clearly the Ford Mustang.
The Mustang has appeared in three Bond films so far. Granted, only once was Bond himself behind the wheel, but the fact remains that the Ford Mustang is so cool that it was cast in its first Bond film before it was even officially released. And, since that went so well, it just kept coming back. Read on to learn about the three Bond Mustangs – how they stole the scene and what made them so very, very cool.
The Brand New Mustang in Goldfinger (1964)
When the Ford Mustang made its first appearance in a Bond film, it was so new that a few changes had to be made in order for it to be ready in time for filming. Originally, Tilly Masterson (played by Tania Mallet) was supposed to race James Bond and his spectacular Aston Martin DB5 through Switzerland’s Furka Pass in a Mustang Fastback. Unfortunately, the film came along faster than the Fastback, so a convertible took its place.
The key to the Mustang’s involvement came through the production designer of Goldfinger, Ken Adam. Adam managed to construct the film’s version of Fort Knox after a few flyovers, and he absolutely insisted that this new pony car be included in the film. The Mustang officially hit the market in April of that year, and the chase scene was filmed in May and June.
So what makes the Mustang so cool that it made its way into the film franchise that defined “cool?” First of all, it didn’t hurt that it was brand new in every way. As the original pony car, there simply wasn’t anything quite like the Mustang. On the outside, it was sleek, with just a little bit of punk arrogance. Two round headlights and a pushed-out grille gave it a bit of a swagger, with a long hood, air intakes in front of the rear wheels, three signature vertical taillights, and chrome. Lots and lots of chrome.
Inside the cabin, that same attitude continued, with an instrument cluster that was also two round dials. There were two bucket seats and a serious stick shift, which led to a three-speed manual gearbox. This particular Swiss Alp-climbing beauty was white, with a red leather interior. And what could possibly be cooler than a red leather interior?
The first Mustangs typically came equipped with a 101-horsepower inline-six engine that could hit 0-60 miles per hour in 14 seconds and topped out at 96 miles per hour. However, Tilly Masterson’s car sported the available 289 cubic inch V8 engine putting out 210 horsepower (it was not the optional “HiPo” version that offered 271 horsepower).
Interestingly enough, there were several Ford models that appeared in Goldfinger. These included a Country Squire, which was used as a shuttle to Goldfinger’s ranch, a Thunderbird driven by MI6’s liaison in Miami, and a Falcon Ranchero, which carted away the wreckage of Oddball’s crunched Lincoln Continental.
The Mustang Reprises Its Role in Thunderball (1965)
Since the Mustang made its debut in April of 1964, those produced between March and August 17, 1964, are referred to as 1964 ½ models. Those built after August 17 were referred to as 1965 models. Tilly Masterson drove a 1964 ½. Fiona Volpe (played by Luciana Paluzzi) drove a 1965.
The 1965 model was available with a 120-horsepower six-cylinder, a 200-horsepower V8, a 225-horsepower V8, and a 271-horsepower V8. Chances are very high that Ms. Volpe drove the latter, as her character famously zips a hitchhiking James Bond down a country road at 100 miles per hour. “You look pale, Mr. Bond,” she notices as they wind their way through the Bahamas. “I hope I don’t frighten you.”
Most likely, Bond was just experiencing Pony Car Wonder, in which you realize that the turquoise-colored convertible that picked you up is an amazing piece of machinery. Or maybe it’s the fact that there’s an agent of SPECTRE behind the wheel.
Still, the 1965 Mustang is a spectacular automobile. The front seating arrangement was offered as bucket seats or a bench, with a bench in the rear. The Pony Interior was introduced as well, adding galloping horse seat covers, pistol grip door handles, woodgrain steering wheel and accents, and a five-gauge instrument panel.
The Mustang GT was born in April 1965. Featuring an option of the two four-barrel engines, GT drivers also got disc brakes, specialized sway bars, dual exhaust, and an impressive steering ratio. All the better for flying down the backroads of Nassau, of course.
Bond Gets Behind the Wheel at Last in Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Technically speaking, the Mustang Mach 1 that graces the screen in Diamonds Are Forever belongs to Tiffany Case (played by Jill St. John), but Bond does get his moment behind the wheel for one of the first Las Vegas car chase scenes to make the silver screen. It’s not quite as explosive as Jason Bourne’s take on the matter, but then again, it was 1971. Special effects were different then.
Regardless, it’s fitting that the car that blasts past the Las Vegas Police Department and takes a two-wheel tour down an alleyway is a Mustang Mach 1. The name explains itself. Under the hood of this particular pony car is a 429 Cobra Jet V8, which was available with either a two-barrel carburetor for 320 horsepower or a four-barrel for 360 horsepower. Things had changed a lot in just a few years.
The Mach 1 Mustang was only available as a fastback with the Sportsroof. The hood was vented to allow air to get to the engine, and chrome was put everywhere it could be, including on the gas tank access and exhaust. Sports suspension was a thing at this point, and the Mach 1 had it. It was longer, it was wider, and it was not ideal for the oil crisis that was about to occur.
Still, the Mach 1 Mustang had all sorts of cool gadgets that Bond himself would approve of, such as a rear defroster, power windows, and high-back bucket seats. There was even a console, perfect for your dart-firing cuff links or x-ray sunglasses.
Will the Super Spy and Pony Car Meet Again?
While the world awaits the next installment of James Bond’s excursions to be released in theatres, it’s a great time to look back at all of the fantastic cars that have zoomed in and out of Bond’s life. Sure, it would be great to drive the DB5, but let’s not forget about the cars that regular folks can buy, like the Ford Mustang. If it’s cool enough to be driven by an agent of SPECTRE, then it’s cool enough for anyone. Of course, you didn’t need James Bond to tell you that.
Therefore, when the time comes to pick out your next vehicle, remember the connoisseur of cool himself, James Bond. While it’s highly recommended that you avoid Las Vegas car chases, and do not attempt to drive any car on two wheels, just remember: Bond had a particular fondness for his martinis shaken, not stirred, his suits cleanly pressed, and the Ford Mustang.