By Dave Ashton
When most people are asked to name a typical James Bond vehicle, it is usually an Aston Martin DB5 or the submarine-like Lotus Esprit S1. On-screen Mr. Bond chewed through quite a few vehicles, but did you know he was also in the driving seat of a full-blown muscle car? The car in question was a 1969 Mercury Cougar Convertible XR7 from the movie ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ which is now up for auction.
Background of the James Bond Mercury Cougar
The Mercury Cougar was the ride of Contessa Tracy di Vicenzo(Bond’s only wife), played by the late Dame Diana Rigg, which you first see in the movie when the car overtakes Bond on a Portuguese road in the vicinity of Guincho Beach. The Cougar with license plate 2318 TT 75(visitor plates), is next shown outside the Hotel Palácio Estoril, after which comes the big escape later in the film from Blofeld’s bad guys in the snowy climes of Switzerland. The car can also be spotted in other parts of the movie, such as when James does the most unlikely Bond thing of proposing and in a barn of all places.
The car can be easily spotted from its bright red color scheme and Kneissl White Star skis mounted across the rear window. There were apparently three vehicles used during filming, with one of them being originally owned by a Swedish private collector, then moved onto the Ian Fleming Foundation. However, according to the Bonhams listing, the Ian Fleming Foundation (IFF) says possibly four vehicles were used during filming, with one of them being scrapped after extensive damage during the ice race scene.
All three Cougar XR7s were built on February 6, 1969 as special order vehicles, then shipped over to the UK and registered on 13th February 1969. Each car was finished in Candy Apple Red, with a matching red interior and convertible tops. Each car was no slouch in the engine department having a 428-4V Cobra Jet Ram Air V8 and fitted with a C-6 Select Shift automatic transmission.
Only 127 XR7 convertibles were ever made with 428 Cobra Jet Ram Air V8s, making the car a rarity even without the Bond associations.[embedded content]
This particular example of the three or possibly four vehicles used in the movie was acquired by the present owner on 10th June 1990. A full restoration was completed in 2020 which involved a full body and engine rebuild. The full list of parts used is documented in the history file of the vehicle.
Below are some of the details from the Marti Report, which states only three vehicles were used during filming. The car has only been driven 20 miles since the restoration process.
428-4V Cobra Jet Ram Air V-8 Engine
C-6 Select Shift Automatic Transmission
Red Paint, Ford #2008-A
Dark Red Leather Bucket Seats
3.50 Conventional Rear Axle
Color Keyed Floor Mats
Black Power Top w/Glass Backlite
F70X 14 Belted Raised White Letters Tires
Ram Air Induction
Power Front Disc Brakes Tilt-Away Steering Wheel Power Steering
Styled Steel Wheels Front Bumper Guards
Estimates for the final auction price are between $133,000 and $200,000 or €110,000-170,000.
As any muscle car fan will ‘Dr. No,’ the 428(7L) Cobra Jet was a huge engine with 335hp and produced at the height of the golden muscle car era. The Cougar was originally marketed as an upmarket pony car and with plenty of power under the hood. So it made sense for this style and performance vehicle to be included in the movie. As you can see from the shot below, what we normally envisage as a burly, rough-and-tumble muscle car fits perfectly into the high-class scene. This shows that muscle cars of the time could be luxury, elegant cruisers, standing toe to toe with anything else on the market.
photo © Eon Productions, United Artists
If you can’t quite stretch to buying the original, then there is the option of buying a 1:43 scale version of the 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7 on Ebay. There’s also a 1:64 scale version made by Johnny Lightning or a few variants made by Corgi, with a rather rare closed roof version also available at times.
Check out the Bonhams auction here.
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