The timeless secret agent James Bond has had quite a spy car repertoire. Since the magical introduction of Sean Connery and a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 in the movie Goldfinger, Bond has been behind the wheel of some unique cars. He has driven everything from BMWs to Triumph motorcycles to a Mach 1 Mustang. However, James Bond drove a car you probably didn’t know about: a Saab 900 Turbo.
James Bond drove a Saab 900 Turbo, codename ‘Silver Beast’
According to Jalopnik, Ian Fleming’s international man of mystery once drove a Saab 900 Turbo. While Bond didn’t drive the Saab in a proper 007 film, he piloted the quirky car in the John Gardener novels. According to the Gardener storylines, the Saab 900 Turbo was the spy’s personal car, which he had outfitted to his liking.
Silver Beast came with an appropriate complement of Q-branch gadgets
James Bond elected to have his own car modified with gadgets in the Gardener storyline. However, unlike heat-seeking munitions or ejector seats like Q-branch would opt for, the Saab was a lot more subtle. First, the Silver Beast featured a Saab law enforcement spec engine which reportedly allowed the car to hit 170 mph. Additionally, the Silver Beast sported a digital heads-up display, text messaging capabilities, and a phone. Those features sound commonplace, but in 1981, that was cutting-edge technology.
Furthermore, the spy car featured storage for a multitude of weapons, armor plating, and run-flat tires. Even with all of the modifications, the Swedish three-door maintained a balance of refinement and subtle style. So clearly, the Saab was a mount fit for the world’s greatest secret agent.
Saab 900 Turbo was a pretty good choice for James Bond
The Saab 900 Turbo is a unique car with distinctive styling. The Swedish hot hatchback sports a handsome angular front fascia that rises before dropping to a sloping rear end. Also, the Saab features an oddly oriented 2.0L four-cylinder turbocharged engine, making it a respectable performer. Although the FWD setup of the car typically produced understeer, the 900 Turbo made up for it with timeless styling.
According to Jalopnik, had studio executives not made deals with other manufacturers, Bond likely would have driven the Saab in a movie. Although the spy drove Aston Martins and Lotus’ in the films, the Saab probably would have fit in. After all, Bond has driven everything from concept supercars to a Ford Mondeo.
The Saab 900 Turbo has more than one title on its resume
A Saab in a Bond film would have been cool, considering Hollywood seems to like the quirky little car. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi recently chose the 900 Turbo to star in his Academy Award-winning film Drive My Car. The film is about loss and healing, where the protagonists develop a supportive relationship while driving the little red Saab. Further, Hamaguchi’s story initially called for a non-descript yellow convertible, but he chose the Saab for the movie. That was a wise choice, given the cool, dynamic looks of the car.