Latest Bond movie was a dream come true for Jaguar Land Rover’s head of division
Being involved in making a James Bond movie might be many people’s idea of a dream come true.
That was certainly the case for David Fairbairn, head of special projects at Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division, though playing a part in the latest Bond blockbuster Spectre proved far from plain sailing.
Jaguar Land Rover supplied Defender and Range Rover Sport models, as well as a Jaguar CX-75 driven by Bond villain Hinx in one of the movie’s most memorable car chases.
The specially-built Land Rover models were created by the SVO division in Whitley, Coventry, while the Jaguar CX-75 represented a joint effort between SVO and Oxfordshire-based motor racing specialist Williams.
The car maker’s involvement represented a massive undertaking and one where Mr Fairbairn admitted that at times it was a case of “heart ruling head”.
Mr Fairbairn, who is originally from Derry, also told how even the firm’s CEO Ralf Speth got involved in the project.
“This is the first movie I have worked on and they say if you do a James Bond movie you can do any other movie – because of all the stunts and the sheer magnitude of it,” said Mr Fairbairn.
“We had 24 bespoke vehicles for the Bond movie – they would be the ones you see on screen.
“There were ten Defenders, seven Range Rover Sport SVRs and seven CX-75s.
“We supplied 70 in total for the cast and crew.”
Becoming involved at the outset was reminiscent of the top secret world depicted in the Bond films themselves, as Mr Fairbairn explained.
“There’s processes you go through,” he said. “They are very cautious to not let you know the storyline – for obvious reasons. They just say you are the villain.”
The whole experience certainly proved an eye-opener for Mr Fairbairn and the other Jaguar Land Rover staff who got involved.
For each car with a role in the film the producers required seven vehicles, a combination of impeccably prepared ‘hero’ vehicles for static shots and specially-tuned stunt vehicles for the action sequences – and at most times there were around 400 people working on set.
“We’d be chasing after Aston Martins and aeroplanes and would do a scene over and over again,” said Mr Fairbairn.
“A car might get smashed up and they would want to do it again with another car. They will try it again and again until they are happy.
“We sent out a team of technicians and a workshop and worked 24/7 for six weeks in Austria and six weeks in Rome.
“There were 15 shipping containers filled up with various cars.
“The logistics of it was of a different magnitude to anything I have ever experienced.”
He added: “For one Defender they would ask for seven bonnets, seven rear doors, seven sets of front doors and seven sets of wheels.
“It seems very extreme but they do go through them.
“There was one scene where we were chasing an aeroplane – let me tell you we went through a lot of parts in that scene. We sent out additional parts – tailgates – as they got damaged even more.”
The ‘heart ruling head’ element came into play with the Jaguar CX-75.
Initially launched as an electric supercar concept, Jaguar later decided not to put the car into production but the limited number they did have presented a serious problem for a prospective Bond role.
The producers wanted a Jaguar supercar to chase James Bond’s Aston Martin but Mr Fairbairn said they didn’t make one.
“That is the bit where my heart ruled my head,” he said. “I said we do the Jaguar CX-75.
“They said we need seven – I said we have only got four. They said you will have to make us another three – like it is the most normal request we have ever had. That is the James Bond way.
“The team said ‘what have you done but all credit to them, they pulled out all the stops.
“It was purely heart ruling head. I went back to our CEO and talked to him about it. I said look, do we want to do this?
“He was absolutely behind us and said we have got not two but three great British brands, we have to support this it would be criminal not to. That level of support allows doors to be opened.
“We delivered it and I think they were as surprised as we were.
“I don’t think it has dawned on me yet – we have worked on a James Bond film.
“It shows what a team we have got and what we can do when we put our mind to it.”
* The Jaguar Land Rover vehicles involved in Spectre are touring the world as part of the Bond in Motion exhibition and the Jaguar CX-75 will be making a special appearance at Autosport International taking place at the NEC in Solihull from January 14-17.