Bond commandeers the AMC Hornet X Hatchback from a car showroom in Bangkok, Thailand, much to the surprise of Sheriff Pepper (returning to the series after a popular debut in 1973’s Live and Let Die). The vacationing sheriff becomes an unwitting passenger as 007 drives the Hornet through the showroom window and purses the AMC Matador driven by the villain Scaramanga. The Hornet’s starring moment comes as the two AMCs exit the city and a courageous Bond jumps the car 40 feet over a Thai river, the car performing a barrel turn in mid-air, twisting through 360 degrees, before landing on a bridge on the opposite bank.
The Vehicle The early 1970s saw American Motors Corporation (AMC) bid to expand into foreign markets and the Hornet was assembled under licence across the globe. Placing the car in a Bond film was something of a coup with the filmmakers showcasing Bond behind the wheel of a 1974 Hornet X Hatchback. This model featured a 5.9-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine, offering 175bhp, and distinctive Cragar S/S wheels. It had a top speed of 130mph and went from 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds. The Hornet X Hatchback also featured distinctive styling that included rally stripes, X emblems and a three-spoke sports steering wheel.
The Production The filmmakers took several Hornets on location to Thailand and modified one car for the river-jump stunt, widening the chassis by two inches and adding centralised steering and a floor-mounted automatic transmission. Stuntman, Bumps Willert, pulled off the incredible spiral jump in one clean take on June 1 1974, even though he had never before attempted the stunt. Willert, dressed in black to disguise his form, drove the car while positioned in-between two dummies that were sitting in the driver and passenger seats. On the stunt’s completion, an amazed Roger Moore presented Willert with a glass of champagne, saying ‘You fellows really made me look good.’ Composer John Barry added a pennywhistle over the spiral jump for comedic effect, despite Cubby Broccoli’s disapproval. Barry said later that he regretted his choice and that Broccoli had been right all along.
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