Films are an important tool to show off cars for any company, and for BMW, there have been some iconic models in movies, with some being more prominent than others.
As one of the biggest – if not the biggest of all – film franchises in history, James Bond has driven BMWs in the past and in the 1995 blockbuster GoldenEye, Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan, drives the first generation Z3 with Bond girl Natalya Simonova, played by Izabella Scorupco, in the passenger seat around Cuba before the final mission. As with many Bond cars, the Z3 was kitted out with the latest gadgets, including a parachute braking system, all-point radar, missiles housed behind the headlights, and the iconic ejector seat.
Brosnan returned in Tomorrow Never Dies and this film included one of the most impressive Bond cars, thanks to the amount of tech on-board. Bond was given the 750iL that included bulletproof windows, electrified door handles, tear gas, spike dispenser and missiles concealed in the roof. The most impressive feature of the lot however was the fact the car could be remote controlled from a touchpad in Bond’s phone - foretelling current BMW 7-Series technology. In the famous chase through a multi-storey car park, Bond drives the 750iL around from the back seat to remain in cover and thanks to the screen on his phone can see everything. After jumping out of the car, Bond drives it into the assailants before driving off the car park and into a rental car shop. It is an impressive scene to say the least.
BMW’s most recent appearance in the Bond franchise was in The World Is Not Enough, and to close the century, BMW provided its final car of the 20th Century, the Z8 roadster. With a modern and stylish roadster to accompany one of the most stylish film characters, the Z8 was met with an unfortunate end when a helicopter wielding a circular saw cut the car in half at a caviar factory.
As a main character, the E38 735i in 2002’s The Transporter is key to the action, with much of the early part of the film focussed on the car. One of its best moments is the chase following the bank robbery, where Frank drives superbly around the streets and ends up jumping off a bridge onto a car transporter lorry. At the hands of Jason Statham's Frank Martin, the 735i transports anything he's contracted to do - so long as he doesn't break his rules. Sadly, like Bond's cars, the Transporter's BMW meets a very explosive end indeed.
Noted for its driving sequences, the 1998 film Ronin set in Paris and Nice involved plenty of car action. With the film nearing its final act, a BMW E34 M5 took place in one of the best chases in film. With the director wanting realism from every sequence, the Paris chase involved the M5, driven by Natascha McElhone’s Deirdre, with Robert De Niro chasing behind in a Peugeot 406. The M5 dances between the traffic on both sides of the road, causing havoc as it drives around the congested city. Through tunnels and against the motorway traffic, the M5’s sporting pedigree is shown off, with the throaty 6-cylinder engine shouting Athroughout. The only way to take it down was a pot shot from Jean Reno hitting one of the tyres and caused the M5 to flip. A great car involved in a great chase, what more could you want?
We jump forward a bit with our final car on the list to 2011, with the fourth instalment of the Mission: Impossible series. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol involved one of BMW's best concept designs, the Vision EfficientDynamic from 2009, and was the precursor to the i8 electric sports car. It was involved in the final act where Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise, needed to intercept the film’s protagonist and stop the start of a nuclear war. The BMW swept in and out of the Mumbai traffic and with a special HUD with navigation screen it looked pretty cool too.
Other honourable mentions include the black and orange E24 633 CSi from Back to the Future II, the E28 5 Series from The Bourne Supremacy and Robert De Niro’s E31 850i from heist movie, The Score.