James Bond getaway car gets new lease on life

For a former James Bond car, it`s a chance to live twice.

Tokyo: For a former James Bond car, it`s a chance to live twice.

Japanese engineers put a new spin on an old classic car for a recent auto show, remodeling a Toyota 2000GT with solar panels and high-tech gadgets to make it 100 percent electric and solar-powered.

Heralded as Japan`s first sports car when it came out in 1967, the vehicle was used in the James Bond movie "You Only Live Twice," released that same year, as a getaway car for the intrepid Bond, played by Sean Connery.

But the new eco-friendly version comes with a catch -- it takes nearly two weeks for the vehicle to power up completely.

"The engineer`s dream for this car is that the battery`s efficiency improves to the point that we could charge the car as we drive, and be able to drive without being limited by the need to stop," said Naohiko Saito, project manager at Toyota Motor Corp.

The Achilles` heel of electric cars for many sports car enthusiasts is the lack of horsepower, with many aficionados longing for the powerful revving sound of a speed machine.

But the new version 2000GT comes with a playful solution -- a push of the accelerator brings a variety of sound effects, including meowing cats, clucking chickens and the sound of spaceships.

"My personal favorite is the sound of horses` hooves running," said Saito. "I can imagine that if this car approaches a regular vehicle, the passengers will be surprised to hear the sounds coming from it."

Only 337 models of the original automobile, designed by Toyota in collaboration with Yamaha, were made. It is considered a milestone in Japanese automotive history.

There are no plans to mass produce the current vehicle, produced under the title "Crazy Car Project," but designers say it will race in electric vehicle competitions later this year.

Bureau Report