Cannonball Lambo or Bond's Lotus? Which Is Cooler?

Illustration for article titled Cannonball Lambo or Bond's Lotus? Which Is Cooler?

Each week we'll let two silver screen automotive icons face off and let you decide which stays and which one goes home, tailpipe between their legs. That's right, it's like an online Thunderdome — except without the death thing. We call it the "Star Car Shootout." Let's get ready to rumble.

Recently we told you about the Rinspeed sQuba, a vehicle which blatantly mimics 007's Lotus Esprit submarine from The Spy Who Loved Me. And while the scuba-diving Elise is pretty cool, it just doesn't compare to James Bond's original Lotus-sub when it comes to the "cool" factor. Which got us thinking: Sure, the Q-branch Esprit is one of the most famous movie cars ever, but just how cool is it? Superstar fame does not equate coolness; some people find infamy or obscurity much cooler. For instance, let's compare the Esprit to another wedge-shaped supercar that's capable of crossing a body of water: the Lamborghini Countach from the film Speed Zone. But before you make a knee-jerk decision, watch the clips below:


For those of you that don't know, Speed Zone was the third installment of the Cannonball Run series. And as you'd expect, it's terrible as an actual movie. The proper way to enjoy it is lying down on the floor in front of your TV, with assorted Hot Wheels to one side and some milk and cookies to the other. The movie is shamelessly ridiculous in all the best ways. But don't think it's a carbon copy of the first two Cannonball installments. Whereas the opening scenes of Run and Run II are identically cheesy, the opening of Speed Zone can actually stand on it's own merits. In this infamous scene, a trusty Lamborghini Countach is hotly pursued by the fuzz in their Dodge Diplomats. As opposed to the boring desert highways of the first two films; Speed Zone's chase is on windy country back roads. The Countach slides sideways on the loose dirt surface, as if it's enacting the hand-held 1:64 scale powerslides of boys everywhere. Then, to top it all off, the Lambo drives straight onto a pond and skims across the surface like a skipping stone. For me as a child, this was what ingrained the idea of what a Lamborghini or any other supercar is supposed to be: something rebellious, ridiculous, and rapid. Yes, I know some of the action shots are of a lowly Fiero-based kit rather than the genuine Italian article, but it was the '80s—people were more interested in spending money on blow than on movie props. Besides, every handsome star has a cheap lookalike stunt-double. Ok, I've said enough, just sit back and enjoy the awesome '80s soundtrack.

Most people automatically consider "James Bond" synonymous with "cool." It's easy to see why; he's got a license to kill, all the guns and gadgets the Her Majesty can afford, and he always delivers a witty punch line. And when it comes to iconic symbols that represent 007's character, Roger Moore's Lotus Esprit submarine is always near the top of the list, right up there with Sean Connery's Aston Martin DB5. Nowadays when we think of an Esprit, we imagine a very long-in-the-tooth model of late; but when The Spy That Loved Me came out, the Esprit was a fresh new model with a very modern image. So the Esprit was the perfect car to convince audiences that it could somehow transform into a fully-loaded submarine. Now, of course there was never an actual Esprit sub; just a series of different props and mock-ups. But that's all "movie magic," which is just fine. Let's pretend all those extra Q-branch goodies worked for real. Now ask yourself, are all those gadgets actually cool? or just very dorky? As you watch the chase scene, you're likely laughing. That's fine, except for you can't help but think that the people making the movie weren't making it with comedy as the primary goal. It's sort of the same feeling you get when watching the new Knight Rider: you laugh at the movie rather than with the movie.

So which do you like? The obscure b-movie hero? Or the blockbuster superstar?


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Rob Emslie

Can you please add "None of the above"? Since neither of these cars did their own stunts (come on, where on the Lotus would you put those fins? And what British sports car, much less Lotus would EVER be water tight? Also, you note that the heavy lifting in the Cannonball movie was done by a lowly Fiero stunt double.) I don't consider either to be cool.

I think the better question is "What is the coolest movie ride ever?"

BTW, does anyone know the make of the white car, driven by Tony Curtis in "The Greta Race"? In the movie, it was dubbed The Leslie".