6 Ways James Bond and His Cool Cars Influence Your Driving

How many pieces of Bond technology are in your car right now?

james bond cool car technology
James Bond is known for his gadgets, and some of his best gadgets are built into his iconic cars. simonbradfield / iStock Unreleased / Getty

James Bond has a lot going for him, but without the gadgets cooked up in Q's lab, there's no way he'd ever live to Die Another Day. And out of all of Q's gadgets, some of the more coveted, and most fun, have been tucked away in Bond's many iconic cars.

Headlight-mounted rockets, hubcap mounted lasers, and ejector seats probably won't find their way onto factory showroom floors any time soon, but a surprising amount of Q's futuristic car tech has already made the jump from silver screen to your daily driver.

How many of these pieces of James Bond's spy kit are in your car right now?

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Connected Cars

James Bond mobile phone modern cell phone
Bond showed us the perils of cell phones decades before we had to deal with always being reachable. Screenshot / MGM, US AF / Gina Randall
What We Like
  • Make calls from nearly anywhere.

  • Apps are tailored for drivers.

  • Voice commands are possible.

What We Don't Like
  • Can cause distracted driving.

  • Hands free use is complicated

  • Connectivity isn't always perfect.

The Tech: Mobile Phones
The Movie: From Russia with Love (1963)

What Was in the Movie
The second release in the long-running 007 series featured the first instance of a Bond car gadget ever caught on film. Although Bond never actually drives the iconic Bentley featured in From Russia with Love, it is equipped with a car phone.

What We Have Today
While the idea of car phones dates all the way back to 1946, the first car phone service in the world wasn't available until 1971. Analog cell phone service didn't start until 1984, and Bond didn't use his cell phone to drive a car until the 1990s, but we'll get to that in a moment.

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In-Dash Navigation and Tracking

cool Bond gps navigation
Bond's take on GPS navigation and tracking came decades ahead of schedule. Screenshot / MGM
What We Like
  • Useful GPS navigation apps available.

  • Paper maps no longer needed.

  • Asking directions is a thing of the past.

What We Don't Like
  • GPS trackers not always accurate.

  • GPS tracking requires an enabled device.

The Tech: GPS Navigation
The Movie: Goldfinger (1964)

What Was in the Movie
Goldfinger featured two automotive technologies that we almost take for granted today: vehicle tracking and navigation.

While the analog navigation unit in the dashboard of Bond's Aston Martin DB5, with its green hues and manual knobs, doesn't look a whole lot like the GPS navigation units in our cars today, it was pretty forward-thinking for its time.

In conjunction with the in-dash navigation device, Bond uses a small "homer" to track Auric Goldfinger's Rolls Royce Phantom 337.

What We Have Today
In-dash GPS navigation units have become the norm with the proliferation of factory infotainment systems. For owners of older vehicles, portable GPS navigation units are available, and you can even use a smartphone for GPS.

Law enforcement and private investigators use vehicle tracking devices today in much the same way as Bond used his "homers" in 1964. You can even install a GPS tracking device on your own vehicle to keep tabs on your teen driver or to help recover your car if it gets stolen.

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High Tech Tires

James Bond run-flat self-inflating tires
The run flat tires we have today aren't designed for high speed chases, but self-inflating tires can keep you on the road. Screenshot / MGM, Carspotter2000 / CC-BY-SA-3.0, BMK / CC-BY-SA-3.0
What We Like
  • Avoid towing costs.

  • Improve driver safety.

What We Don't Like
  • Run-flat tires have distance limitations.

  • Very expensive.

  • Limited availability.

The Tech: Run-Flat Tires, Self-Inflating Tires
The Movie: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

What Was in the Movie
Run-flat tires are often cited as real world Bond tech, but 007's BMW 750iL actually had something a lot cooler: self-inflating tires. In the midst of a wild car chase in a parking garage, Bond led his pursuers over a blanket of caltrops. The tires were blown out on both vehicles, but the 750iL's automagically re-inflated themselves.

What We Have Today
Run-flat tires are a real thing that you can find today as original equipment on some cars. Most notably, BMW continues to have a certain affinity for the tech. You can also buy run-flat tires for your own car if you want a little Bond in your life.

Self-inflating tires are harder to come by, but this is another one of Q's gadgets you can actually get in your own car. Central Tire Inflation (CITS) is available from the factory on Hummers, but you can also install an aftermarket kit yourself.

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Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

James Bond heads-up display Navdy
Titanium armor didn't save Bond's car from the buzz saws, but a heads-up display may save you from an accident. Screenshot / MGM, Navdy
What We Like
  • Convenient.

  • Becoming more common in newer cars.

  • HUD mobile apps now available.

What We Don't Like
  • Not as visible as in the movies.

  • Limited functionality.

  • Daylight use can be difficult.

The Tech: Heads-up Displays
The Movie: The World is Not Enough (1999)

What Was in the Movie
John Cleese's R informs Bond that his newest car includes "titanium armor, a multitasking heads-up display and six beverage cup holders" before most of us knew what an advanced driver assistance system was.

It isn't clear how much good the armor did, considering the end that the Bond's BMW Z8 came to at the hands of a flying-buzz-saw contraption, but heads-up displays are as useful as they are cool.

What We Have Today
While heads-up displays were already around in planes in when The World is Not Enough landed in 1999, it took two decades for automakers to catch up.

Today, you can find heads-up displays as factory equipment from every major automaker, and you can even install your own from an aftermarket source like the Navdy unit seen above.

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Vehicle Automation

James Bond remote control car
Self-driving cars aren't science fiction any more, but remotely controlling your car through a high speed chase is still out of reach. Screenshot / MGM, Land Rover
What We Like
  • Convenient.

  • Allows for multitasking.

  • May improve driver safety.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited availability.

  • Undeveloped technology.

  • Expensive.

The Tech: Remote Control Driving
The Movie: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

What Was in the Movie
One of the killer features of the 750iL featured in Tomorrow Never Dies is that it can be fully controlled by an Ericsson phone. Bond makes full use of this by ducking down in the back seat to avoid gunfire, before he dives free of the car and sends it careening out of a multi-story parking garage and into an Avis.

With all the grief rental agencies give you about returning a car without a full tank of gas, we'd hate to see the bill they sent MI-6.

What We Have Today
While the reality of remote control driving isn't quite as bombastic as Bond's portrayal, it is actually a real thing.

Automatic parking allows cars to park themselves, without any driver input, and Land Rover has actually developed a prototype app that allows for remote driving.

Don't go getting into any high speed chases, though. The app is limited to speeds under 4 mph.

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Honorable Mention: Flying Cars

James Bond flying car aeromobil 3.0
Maybe AMC would have gone the distance if they'd brought Scaramanga's flying Matador to market. Screenshot / MGM / Aeromobil
What We Like
  • Faster travel times.

  • Rapidly approaching consumer technology.

  • Reduced odds of collisions.

What We Don't Like
  • Not available on consumer market.

  • Undeveloped technology.

The Tech: Flying Car
The Movie: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

What Was in the Movie
In The Man with the Golden Gun, villain Francisco Scaramanga drives his AMC into a barn, bolts on wings and an engine, and escapes into the sky. Quite the handy escape, and the envy of gridlocked motorists the world over.

What We Have Today
While the reality of FAA regulations will likely stop most of us from ever owning a flying car, real prototypes actually do exist.

For instance, the Aeromobil 3.0 is a two passenger flying car aimed at "wealthy supercar buyers and flight enthusiasts," according to CEO Juraj Vaculik. Out of reach for most of us, but still very much a real thing.

Reality departs from Bond here in that flying cars are more like planes designed for limited road use than cars that can also fly.

Most flying car designs have literally been light sport aircraft with folding wings, headlights, brake lights, and turn signals to make them street legal.