For such a strange and obscure little car, the Bond Bug sure has been seen by a lot of eyes. Luke Skywalker’s iconic Landspeeder seen in “A New Hope” – the first movie of the world-changing sci-fi trilogy Star Wars – was built using the obscure little three-wheeler. The Bond Bug may not be a Ferrari, but they still called it a sports car.
Who knew we all wanted a Bond Bug as kids?
According to Silodrome, the Bond Bug is a three-wheeled, two-seater from the British automaker, Bond. The Bond Bug 700ES – used to create Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder – was a fairly radical design even by 1970s’ standards. Bond even sold the Bug 700ES as a “sports car.” While this may be a head-scratcher, I guess it was sporty enough to make the Landspeeder cut.
The chassis and running gear were pulled for the Star Wars Landspeeder. It seems like the Empire would be able to outrun the Bug’s white-knuckled 76 mph top-speed; alas, it got Luke where he needed to be every time.
What about the Bond Bug made its Star Wars Landspeeder worthy?
The Bond Bug looks more like a one-off fiberglass garage build than it does a real production car. However, Tom Karen of Ogle Design for the Reliant Motor Company bought Bond Cars Ltd in 1969. The company ultimately made over 2,000 examples of the sketchy but charming little three-wheelers from 1970-1974. Karen would later develop the Star Wars Landspeeder and use the Bug platform for it.
The Bug consisted of a steel chassis underneath a little fiberglass body with one front wheel and two bringing up the rear. The Bug’s relation to the Reliant Robin is clearly seen in this feature alone. The cool part is that it was classified as a motorcycle because the Bug only had three wheels, making restrictions a bit lighter.
What made the Bond Bug tick?
To promptly get Luke Skywalker to Mos Eisley, the first-generation Bugs sported a 700cc Reliant light-alloy four-cylinder engine producing 29 hp. All these mighty horses are sent to the two rear wheels through a four-speed gearbox. When the ES model came out, the Bug saw a power jump from its new 750cc engine.
The 700ES model also had improved seats, more padding over the engine hatch, an ashtray, mudflats, a front bumper, and a spare wheel.
While the original 29 hp isn’t much, the whole three-wheeled rig only weighed 898 lbs. This power-to-weight ratio made the 76-mph top speed six mph faster than Britain’s national speed limit at the time. However, we doubt that’s enough to make the “Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.”
Reliant developed a more powerful four-wheeled version of the Bond Bug later, but it was never greenlit for production.
The Bond Bug may have been silly but Luke Skywalker never drove a Lamborghini across Tatooine, did he?
The Bond Bug may have been a silly, dangerous little thing, but it will live in glory forever as the driving force behind one of Star Wars’ most iconic vehicles. The Landspeeder was and is still a beloved prop of the franchise. Toys were made in its likeness as well as real, driveable replicas. We have the little Bond Bug to thank for one of the coolest ever movie cars (although the Landspeeder isn’t exactly a car). Long live the Bond Bug.