MI6’s most famous fictional agent can’t seem to keep away from the water - here’s our pick of the best James Bond boats and the fascinating stories behind them…
Who can forget Roger Moore’s comedic rendition of James Bond flying the Glastron speedboat in Live and Let Die? Or the gorgeous Sunseeker Sovereign 17 in Quantum of Solace, starring the British actor with the bluest eyes, Daniel Craig?
James Bond boats are a key feature of every film they appear in. Sleek, classy, powerful and smart, just like everybody’s favourite British secret agent, these vessels have at times stolen the show, even from 007 himself.
Read on to see some of the beautiful and at times wacky craft that have appeared in James Bond films over the past 60 years.
11 of the most iconic James Bond boats
Fairey Huntress and Fairey Huntsman in From Russia With Love (1963)
It all began with a young Sean Connery heading to Venice, accompanied by Tatiana Romanova, four spare fuel barrels and a flare gun. When the baddies track him down, 007’s explosive escape is as spectacular as it is predictable.
The producers clearly loved Fairey so much that they couldn’t pick just one model for Bond to drive – the exterior shots show a Huntress, but the interiors are from the Huntsman model. Meanwhile, the Venice boat chase was actually shot in Scotland.
Disco Volante in Thunderball (1965)
The fictional Disco Volante that appeared in 1965’s Thunderball had quite the starring role. Owned by villain Emilio Largo, the hydrofoil boat was purchased with SPECTRE funds to carry two nuclear weapons. It cost the global terrorist organisation £250,000, which equates to roughly £4.3million in today’s money.
The vessel is destroyed following a battle between Largo and Bond. With nobody at the helm, it runs aground and bursts into flames.
Bond production designer Sir Ken Adam stipulated that Disco Volante had to be 160ft long and capable of 50 knots. No such boat existed, so they created one that shed its aft accommodation section before rising onto hydrofoils to outrun pursuing navy ships.
Glaston GT-150 in Live and Let Die (1974)
Possibly the most famous Bond boat ever, this 135hp Glastron performed a spectacular leap over two cars and a baffled Louisiana sheriff in Bayou Des Allemands.
The helm position, normally offset to one side to allow a passenger, was centrally mounted, and underneath the boat were small black skids designed to keep the boat level on terra firma.
A grand total of 26 Glastron boats were used in the filming of Live and Let Die, 17 of which were wrecked. But it was worth it, with an iconic movie moment in the can and a new world record for the biggest boat jump – a staggering 120ft!
As an interesting post-script, Roger Moore, who learned to helm a boat specifically so that he could be filmed in the chase, clearly got a taste for boating and in retirement kept one close to his private villa in Cap d’Antibes.
Lotus Esprit S1 submarine in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
There is a more conventional motorboat in The Spy Who Loved Me (an Intermarine 40 was used to shuttle Bond out to meet the villain at his offshore lair) but the one everyone remembers is the amphibious Lotus personal submarine.
Fitted with fins, front-mounted rocket launchers, mines, a periscope, a smoke screen and a surface-to-air missile, it cost a reported $100,000 for Eon Productions to adapt the Esprit S1 roadcar into one of Bond’s most spectacular vehicles, lovingly known as Wet Nellie.
Glastron CV23HT in Moonraker (1979)
With all the ridiculousness of its extra-terrestrial finale, it’s easy to forget that Moonraker also features a fantastic Amazon boat chase.
Roger Moore’s silver Glastron Carlson CV23HT fends off Jaws’ henchmen by deploying homing missiles, and the big man himself is foiled when Bond makes a spectacular escape over the Iguazu falls. Wings pop out of the roof, allowing Bond to fly off as the baddies speed off the edge.
This hard top model was available to buy in a super-rare limited edition of just 300, but sadly they all came with that sparkly metal flake paint job.
Nabila in Never Say Never Again (1983)
Never Say Never Again put villain Maximillian Largo aboard The Flying Saucer once again. This time it was the turn of the Benetti superyacht Nabila, built for Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi and later sold to Donald Trump, to take centre stage.
At 86m long, this can lay claim to being the largest James Bond boat so far by quite some distance, and at the time of filming it held the honour of being the world’s largest private yacht.
Sunseeker Superhawk 34 in The World is Not Enough (1999)
In what is perhaps the most famous James Bond boat chase scene, a hair-raising race along the Thames provides a blockbuster opening to Pierce Brosnan’s second outing as 007.
Stealing Q’s retirement boat and bursting out of MI6, Bond jets through London (quite literally) and catches up with the mysterious assassin in the shadow of the Millenium Dome, after a highly implausible shortcut through the Docklands.
This time we prefer the villain’s choice of boat – a super-sleek Sunseeker Superhawk 34 that appears to be able to drive itself at times. Powerboat racer Sarah Donohue was the stunt double for Giulietta da Vinci in the scene and got the chance to show off her impressive helming skills.
Spirit 54 Soufrière in Casino Royale (2006)
The Bond reboot in 2006 coincided with the appearance of James Bond’s first proper sailing yacht.
British yard Spirit Yachts got the gig, providing the Spirit 54 Soufrière that 007 and Vesper Lynd sailed up the Grand Canal of Venice.
“Probably the most challenging voyage for Soufrière came during filming in Venice when we had to take the rig in and out ten times,” Spirit Yachts CEO and head designer Sean McMillan revealed in 2016. “She was the first sailing yacht to go up the Grand Canal for 300 years.”
Venice was just one stop on her exhaustive filming schedule though. Soufrière was shipped to the Bahamas, sailed to Puerto Rico and through the British Virgin Islands to Tortola Harbour, before being shipped to Croatia.
An honourable mention should also go to the Sunseeker Predator 108 that serves as Le Chiffre’s floating lair.
Sunseeker Sovereign 17 in Quantum of Solace (2008)
2008’s Quantum saw Bond go Sunseeker crazy, with a Sunseeker 37M Yacht, an XS2000 and a Superhawk 43 all featuring.
However, it was the vintage 1970 Sunseeker Sovereign 17 that stole the show, with Sunseeker founder Robert Braithwaite at the helm as 007 was skippered across a lake.
There’s further boating action when Bond steals a wooden fishing boat to escape the gun-toting villains giving chase in a RIB.
The spectacular chase scene that follows is courtesy of a secret stunt driver, who was hidden in the bow end of the indigenous vessel.
Pruva Regina in Skyfall (2012)
Pruva Yachting supplied the 56m sailing superyacht for Bond and Severine’s voyage to Silva’s Hashima island hideaway. Referred to as Chimera in the film, the schooner-rigged yacht was launched in Turkey the year before for 28-year-old Pruva vice-chairman Dogukan Boyaci.
For this reason all the scenes were actually shot off the coast of Bodrum, apart from Bond and Severine’s steamy shower encounter, which was done in a studio as the yacht’s shower wasn’t large enough. Pruva Regina, as the yacht was known in real life, has since been sold and renamed Aria I.
Spirit 46 in No Time To Die (2021)
Craig’s final outing as Bond saw him sail a Spirit yacht once more, this time while enjoying his retirement in Jamaica.
It was the Spirit 46 that was chosen for the big screen treatment, however, this wasn’t the only boat involved in the film, with a Royal Navy Destroyer playing a crucial role in the shocking finale.