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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Bond's four-wheeled dilemma
Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan (007) and his latest set of wheels, a BMW Z8
James Bond might have to surrender the keys to his state-of-the-art German sports car in favour of a more patriotic set of wheels.

The legendary secret agent may be forced into the decision because BMW's contract with Eon Productions, the makers of the 007 films, is about to expire.
Bond creator Ian Fleming
Bond was a Bentley man, according to Ian Fleming
The deal is thought to have been worth 80m and has resulted in huge worldwide exposure for BMW's 7 series, and Z3 and Z8 models.

However, it's thought the German carmaker's decision to sell-off Rover might persuade Eon to "Buy British" when new contracts are signed for the next Bond movie.

If the current anti-BMW mood continues, pressure will mount on Eon to look for a British deal.

Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, recently called for a BMW boycott after the car giant announced it was selling off Rover.

He said: "007 is an international symbol of British patriotism and it is inconceivable that he can carry on driving round in one of those cars."

However, a spokeswoman for Eon Productions said no decisions had been made yet and wouldn't be until later this year after the video and DVD release of The World Is Not Enough.

She added: "The script for the next film has not even been written so it's far to early to comment."

Teutonic Bondage

Bond, in the shape of Pierce Brosnan, has controversially driven BMWs in his last three big screen outings - Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough.

However, 007 drove a Bentley in virtually all Ian Fleming's original books, while the films have famously championed British-made Aston Martins and a semi-aquatic Lotus Esprit.
Sean Connery
Sean Connery and his trusty Aston Martin DB5
There have also been flirtations with other marques, including Toyota, Ford, Renault and even a Citroen 2CV.

However, should Bond decide to fly the flag, his options are small in these days of global car mega mergers.

Aston Martin's latest model, the DB7 would be right up 007's street, however, the company is now owned by Ford.

He would also look the part in Jaguar's not dissimilar XK180, however the Coventry firm is now in the hands of Ford too.

The striking new Benttey Hundaudieres would please 007 aficionados, but Bentley is now owned by Volkswagen, while General Motors controls the purse-strings at Lotus.

Maybe Bond's only hope is to opt for a model from one of the UK's last remaining specialist marques, which include Bristol, Reliant and Morgan.

Graham Rye, President of the James Bond International Fan Club told News Online: "I'd like to see Bond driving an Aston Martin again.

"Bond moves around in a world far removed from most people and there's an exclusivity about Aston Martin."

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See also:

20 Mar 00 | Business
Unions vote to block Rover sale
27 Mar 00 | Wales
James Bond's tribute to 'Q'
08 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Veteran actor Charles Gray dies
24 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Bond author's passport sells for premium
19 Nov 99 | Shaken Not Stirred
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