The new James Bond movie, “No Time To Die,” has hit the theatres. This means that cool cars are as big as the glamorous Hollywood actors. Aston Martin is the star of the film, but there’s also action that involves Jaguars Land Rovers and Toyota, as well as supporting roles from Maserati, Toyota, and Land Rovers.
These cars are ancillary characters and provide much of the action in this action movie. They are also a great source of publicity for their companies.
“They get so much screen time, and they (the automakers) get their brand in front of the camera, and likewise we get some really smart, cool vehicles from them,” Neil Layton, the film’s action vehicle supervisor-coordinator, told Motor Authority.
The movie features four different Aston Martins, with Bond’s 1960s DB5, which is one of the most beautiful cars ever made. Multiple chase scenes feature the DB5 and it gets quite beat up. You can rest assured that no real DB5 was hurt in the making this movie.
Layton revealed that 10 DB5s were used for the movie, along with two real cars and eight replicas. Layton worked at Prodrive, a British racing shop, as a support driver for Subaru’s rally team. He also worked in the prototype department at Aston Martin. This gave him the insight to how to make cars that perform.
Auto Action Developments, Layton’s company worked with Aston Martin in producing the eight replicas. Although the teams only had six months to construct the cars, they were able to benefit from their familiarity.
Layton stated that it was a natural integration, where he could actually go back in and speak the same language. Layton was also able to modify the cars to make the movie possible during the building process. This included the speed equipment that made the cars perform and the gear that helped in filming. The cars were constructed around a custom spaceframe chassis and covered with carbon-fiber bodies. Layton claimed that they used inline-6-cylinder engines with more power than 380 horsepower, but he would not confirm this. It sounds very similar to the BMW 382-hp turbo inline-6 B58 3.0-liter turbo from the Z4 or Toyota Supra.
Each stunt car was equipped with a racing pedalbox, a hydraulic handbrake and a quick steering rack.
Layton observed, “We had lots of fun shaking these cars down and testing their capabilities.”
The Gemini system, which allows remote control via electric motors or actuators, was one of the many features Layton’s team included in the cars. Layton stated that stunt drivers can remotely control the cars from as far away as 500m. Auto Action Developments created the system with British firm Shiftec using Shiftec’s controllers, modules and controllers.
The control system was copied directly from gaming consoles and provided force feedback for steering and brakes. Layton’s team was able to program the brake pressures and steering ratios according to the specific needs of the stunts.
The cars could be remotely operated by operators using a variety of techniques. Operators could remotely drive the cars using a camera mounted on the head-tracking device. Operators could see what a driver sitting in the DB5’s seat would see if they looked right or left. These operators can use VR goggles, line-of-sight from a support vehicle, or drive from a spot on a cherry picker that is above the star car. This allows a movie stunt coordinator to crash a car remotely, without placing anyone at risk.
Two DB5s were used as pod cars. Each boss in the roof connects to an external cage where a driver can sit and use all controls to drive from the roof. These controls can be operated either via a column that runs through the A-pillar, or through a fluid transfer pump.
In a memorable scene, the DB5 stars as James Bond. Daniel Craig plays James Bond and kills the bad guys with machine guns. Craig’s stunt driver Mark Higgins (a famed rally driver) performed the stunt and Layton’s team dialed the car to make it happen almost instantly. To get the car spinning, Layton used a hydraulic handbrake to turn the left front wheel.
Craig was able to do the stunt too, Layton stated, but it wasn’t his job.
To be truthful, he did his fair bit (of driving). Before filming, we practice and test with Daniel. Layton stated that Daniel can drive and can drift. He can also J-turn and donuts. But he has more to offer than cool driving. We let him do what he does best and then Mark (the stunt coordinator) and Lee (the mechanic) continued to work on our vehicles. They put on a great show.
The filming was successful for all DB5s.
Bond’s DB5 is also shown. Bond and Madeleine Swan are seen driving a 1974 Vantage V8. Bond also has a DBS Superleggera coupe, which she chooses to drive. Bond is then chased by a pair Jaguar XFs through Matera, Italy. Layton’s team adjusted the tire pressures, damper settings and ride heights to make the cars more capable of handling cobblestone streets and losing or gaining traction. To give stunt drivers more control, they also added handbrakes and roll cages to the cars. Jaguar supplied six Jaguar XFs to the film.
Jaguar’s partner Land Rover also gets lots of screen time. Bond drives a vintage Land Rover Series III and then he chases Land Rover off-road cars in a two-part car chase. Two Range Rover SVRs chase Bond and Madeleine along a shoreline in a Toyota Land Cruiser, which is an early 2000s Toyota Land Cruiser. Layton stated that six SVRs were used for the filming. Two of them died in flipover accidents trying to catch Bond.
Land Rover released a video showing how the crew captured part of the chase with a Ford F-150 camera truck equipped with a boom attached to its roof. The crew also performs stunts using ramps that send SVRs flying. Stunt drivers are dressed in helmets and racing suits and the vehicles have roll cages to protect them. Morrison stated that the SVRs are ideal chase cars because of their power and handling. Layton also noted that all stunts were true.
The chase moves on to forests and fields where Land Rover Defenders follow Bond. Layton stated that the film got eight Defenders off the lines for use in filming. The film features the Defenders running through a river, climbing steep hills, and flying through the air in multiple jumps. Layton was very kind to Jessica Hawkins (w Series racer and stunt driver) who performed many Defender stunts and served the role of Sedoux’s substitute. Bond outsmarts each Defender driver, forcing them to crash in different ways. Bond eventually uses the Defender he crashed to defeat his evil henchman.
Cars play an important role in character development.
October 8th, “No Time To Die” will be in theaters. It’s a great movie to watch with your car enthusiast.