Redenius’ hunt for Bond vehicles began rather innocuously about 20 years ago, before Bond items fetched higher prices. Through Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, the patriarch of the film-producing family who had heard about Redenius’ memorabilia collection, Redenius learned that a Neptune submarine featured in For Your Eyes Only was for sale.
Shortly after that, Redenius and friends Mike Van Blaricum and John Cork formed the IFF, and the hunt was on. The condition of some vehicles would make Bond fans wince. Like the red 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 that raced through Las Vegas in Diamonds Are Forever, found in the backwoods near Howe, Texas. Or one of Redenius’ favorites: the über-cool 1977 Lotus submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me, discovered in a junkyard in the Bahamas — painted red and decorated with Christmas-tree lights, no less.
Some were expensive, like the 1969 Mercury Cougar convertible driven by George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Price tag: $75,000. Others were donated or bought for nominal sums.
It may seem odd that filmmakers didn’t save the vehicles, given that the Bond franchise is such a global phenomenon. But warehousing props is expensive, so it’s much cheaper for filmmakers to dispose of them — just like the 1964 Lincoln Continental that meets its demise in a junkyard in Goldfinger.
About a half dozen of the IFF’s prize autos are on loan to the National Motor Museum, at Beaulieu in England. But the barn still holds an eye-popping assortment of vehicles.
There’s the blue Renault taxi with the shorn-off roof from A View to a Kill; the Glastron speedboat that caught 110 feet worth of big air jumping over a sheriff’s squad car in Live and Let Die (you can see where the hood buckled a bit from the landing); the Q jetboat, and both the ground and flying Parahawk snowmobiles from The World Is Not Enough (Redenius occasionally takes the boat for a spin on the nearby Kankakee River); the tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) from Octopussy; an underwater tow sled from Thunderball; and the Bath-O-Sub used by 007’s nemesis, Blofeld, in Diamonds Are Forever.
In another building sits the 2000 Jaguar XK8/R from Die Another Day, featuring a trunk-mounted machine gun and orange-tipped “missiles” inside the grill.
Redenius says the IFF is pursuing about a dozen more vintage vehicles. “We usually know where things are; it’s just a matter of people not getting ridiculous on price,” he says. “Everyone thinks their vehicle is worth $4 million.”
But his real raison d’être? Converting an old car dealership in Momence into the Museum of Bond Vehicles and Espionage, which would give the vehicles a proper home, one where the public can enjoy them. Redenius hopes to raise $3 million (visit www.bondvehiclemuseum.org for details) and build the museum by spring 2013. Museum proceeds would pay for upkeep; nonprofits would receive any balance.
Until then, the vehicles remain undercover, for his eyes only.