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When it came to updating 007’s signature car for Spectre, Sam Mendes knew what he wanted — and more precisely, what he didn’t want.

The filmmaker worked closely with venerable British luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin to design the sleek DB10 that Daniel Craig drives in the movie. And Mendes’ less-is-more aesthetic dictated certain innovations to V12 coupe’s sculptured look. “Astonishingly, they allowed me to do it!” Mendes says. “I saw it when it was a clay model form and I asked them to remove a lot of detailing. I wanted a very simple, classic shape. They went, ‘Okay.’”

The DB10 is showcased during a heart-pounding chase sequence through the streets of Rome in which the super spy must outrun Hinx (Dave Bautista), a hard-charging henchman for the terrorist organization SPECTRE, who’s behind the wheel of an experimental Jaguar C-X75. Filming took place around such tourist attractions as the Colosseum and the Vatican as well as a narrow footpath along the Tiber River, with the vehicles reaching break-neck speeds of up to 110 miles per hour. A total of seven DB10s were totaled — at a reported cost of some $37 million — during the production.

For the director, eliminating superfluous detail was key in contrasting the Aston-Martin’s subdued elegance to the Jaguar’s aggressive, Formula 1-esque styling. His first request: a less ostentatious grille. “I wanted a simpler line,” Mendes explains. “I wanted it to feel timeless. It’s in direct competition with a Jaguar that’s a real proper growling supercar with the gull-wing doors and all that. While the Aston Martin is a real gentleman’s car.”

Adds Spectre’s special effects coordinator Chris Corbould: “We all agree it’s the perfect car for Bond. It has a lot of history with the character. It’s viciously fast. But it retains a classy look.”

As any 007 completist can tell you, the Aston Martin DB5 has been inextricably linked with the spy since 1964’s Goldfinger. In that movie, Bond dispatches an enemy carjacker using the franchise’s most famously fantastical Q Branch modification: the ejector seat that blasts an unwanted passenger through the roof at the push of a button. (Another DB5 is also blasted to smithereens by a military helicopter in 2012’s Skyfall.)

Mendes’ design upgrades to the DB10 aside, Spectre FX specialists extensively retrofitted the cars to meet the unique demands of a James Bond car chase. “A lot of our early development of the Aston Martins and the Jags was jumping them, adjusting the suspension and shock absorbers so they don’t just fold up,” says Corbould, who ran the vehicles through 60-foot horizontal jumps during pre-production. “We built pods on top of the cars so we could have a stunt driver on the roof. So it made it look like the actors were doing the high-speed driving.”

Bautista, meanwhile, had to shake a bad case of nerves before squeezing his 6-foot-6, 289-pound frame into the driver’s seat. “I was a little bit more than afraid I was going to wreck this car,” says Bautista, who drove one of the Jaguars 100 miles per hour in a parking lot before the cameras rolled. “It’s a $7 million prototype! I was concerned: we’re going to be driving through the streets of Rome and I have to give this performance and have this look and do that. Man, I’m going to wreck this f—ing car!”

Below, a short video blog from about the super cars of Spectre:

2015 movie
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  • Sam Mendes