The 1980s had been a strange decade for the James bond franchise. Roger Moore, perhaps the most beloved actor to portray Bond, had seen his reign end with 1985s "A View To A Kill" and was subsequently replaced with new heir apparent Timothy Dalton. The transition from Moore to Dalton happened very smoothly, there was no down time in the release schedule of movies and it seemed as though MGM wanted to keep the franchise running smoothly despite the re-casting of the lead character. Perhaps what no one behind the scenes had anticipated was the lackluster reception Dalton, and his first Bond movie "The Living Daylights", received at the box office and from audiences in general. While the popular argument is that Timothy Dalton wasn't good enough to lead the franchise or open a movie on his own, even having the Bond name behind him, the truth is a bit clearer in hindsight; the franchise and the character of James Bond needed a rest. Audience’s tastes were changing, and the once popular "super spy" style espionage/action movies were being supplanted by broad comedy and muscle bound action heroes. So, Bond as a character and a movie franchise was put into hibernation by MGM for the foreseeable future. It would be five years before Bond would resurface, updated for the 90s in every possible way: stories based off of more recently global headlines, a new actor in the title role, and of course - a compliment of the best available cars in the entire world with which to entice new fans while saving the planet.
The series resurfaced too much fanfare with 1995s "Golden Eye". Irish actor Pierce Brosnan, until this point known mostly for his role as TV sleuth "Remington Steele", had taken on the role* and in doing so had taken the responsibility of making Bond "cool" again. The film features three show stopping vehicles: A BMW Z3 roadster, Ferrari 355 GTS and of course, an Aston Martin DB 5.
The Aston martin was viewed as essential, this film was supposed to be the big, splashy, modernized debut of a new Bond for the 90s, and it was very much those things, but it also had to contain some of the more notable Bond trademarks and the use of an Aston Martin DB5 acknowledged the characters legacy nicely. The Ferrari 355 GTS is driven in the movie by Bond's nemesis, Xenia Onatopp, the sadistic bodyguard of the film's main villain. While both the Ferrari and the Aston martin are noteworthy enough to be considered the main attraction in a lesser movie, the real star here is the BMW Z3 Roadster. According to carenthusiast.com;
"The car was kept in utter secrecy. Not a photograph became published, not even from the filming sessions that were done in public.
For the filming, BMW provided two handmade pre-production models. Additionally, there were transportation costs and accompany guards, so that no photographs would get into the hands of the press prior to the official premiere of the films and the car."
For the second Bond feature of the 90s, 1997s "Tomorrow never Dies", further BMW's were employed to up the ante established in "Golden Eye". The main vehicles used by Bond in this film are both BMW in origin: A BMW 750iL, BMW Cruiser R 1200 C motorcycle, both used by Bond at various points in the film. The agreement between MGM and BMW was a smashing success thanks to the BMW Roadster being used in "Golden Eye", and both parties were interested in maintaining the relationship. While the car is used in a great sequence involving Bond remote driving it off a parking garage. The BMW motorcycle was used for a high speed pursuit with Bond and his female ally handcuffed together no less, as the pair escapes the headquarters of the film's villain by leading a chase that takes them all over Bangkok, from the crowded streets, dead end alleys and even the rooftops of various buildings. The chase culminates in the pair making a death defying leap across a crowded street by going rooftop to rooftop.
Since the franchise was rebooted halfway through the decade, there was only time to film three Bond films before the end of the decade. 1999's "The World Is Not Enough" was the final entry for the decade and it upped the action ante from the previous two Brosnan led Bond movies considerably. It is also accused by many fans as being an uninspired relapse back to the winking Roger Moore era films, but that's really open to debate.
Continuing the relationship established with "Golden Eye", MGM and BMW once again collaborated on the vehicles used in the film. This time, Bond would use a BMW Z8 Roadster, an update of the Z3 from "Golden Eye", an even more impressive vehicle than the Z3. Some of its official specifications: A 4.9L V8 S62 engine, six speed manual transmission, and the ability to reach speeds of 299 km/h.
In the film, the car is shown numerous times, until it is sliced in half (!) by a helicopter equipped with tree cutting saws. The car was produced from 2000 to 2007 and during the introduction of the car for sale; BMW promised prospective buyers that there was a stockpile of replacement parts available, 50 years’ worth to be exact. According to Wikipedia, "Due to the limited volume of Z8 production, all elements of the car were constructed or finished by hand, thereby compounding the importance of ongoing manufacturer support for the type. The price point and production process allowed BMW to offer custom options to interested buyers." You too could drive the same car Bond drives - and when you're done saving the world, you could be confident in knowing that there was a stockpile of parts to repair your spy mobile.
Part 6 of this series will conclude with the newest James Bond movies, released in the 2000s.