At Beastie Folly all of the MINIs that have been in our stable have carried the “beast” name – CooperBeast, CheckBeast, ClubBeast and now SilverBeast. Before we got SilverBeast there were a few names thrown into the hat such as PeaBeast or CoupeBeast, but when he finally came these just did not seem right. A name from the past kept subliminally flashing into my mind, until staring at him, it suddenly crashed to the front of my mind – SilverBeast and instantly both Peanut and me knew that this was the right name.
Of course most of you will know already that our MINI Coupe JCW is not the first car to bear this famous name and that the original was of course a James Bond car – the 1981 Saab 900 Turbo.
John Gardner took over the 007 literary torch in 1981 after a long hiatus since Kingsley Amis’ one Bond novel “Colonel Sun”. Gardner continued the legacy by producing an astounding 14 original novels and two movie novelisations. In his first Bond novel in 1981, “Licence Renewed”, he let Bond venture away from his traditional Q-branch vehicles to a new brand – the Saab “Silver Beast”.
The SAAB 900 Turbo saw Bond depart from his earlier Bentley’s and Aston Martin’s and have his own personally modified car by the multinational “Communication Control System” and not Q-Branch.
The real life counterpart SAAB 900 Turbo was launched in 1980 and was seen at the time as a car which broke new ground, offering the public high-end performance and practicality.
SAAB’s prestige and automotive credibility were raised to levels shared by other Bond thoroughbreds – Bentley, Aston Martin and Lotus.
1981 saw the release of John Gardner’s first 007 novel “Licence Renewed”, which was published to great critical acclaim. The book introduced us to the new “Silver Beast” and its refinements, and the car went on to see action again in two more Gardner titles in 1982’s “For Special Services” and “Icebreaker” in 1983.
John Gardner has discussed his use of the SAAB 900 Turbo in his Bond novels, and why he chose the brand over 007’s previous vehicles: “The Bentley was ridiculous. In many ways so was the Aston Martin, because I regarded it as a fairly flash motor car. I had to get away from that, and I liked the Saab, it was a very safe motor car indeed.”
In 1982 a specially created SAAB was developed based on what had been written by Gardner the previous year.The car was a fully working version of its fictional cousin, including a specially developed turbo charged engine with water injection raising the power to 240 BHP from 2000cc and provided 0 – 60 MPH in less than 7 seconds.
Our MINI Coupe JCW is very proud therefore to bear the SilverBeast name and as we can see from the drawing below SilverBeast comes amply loaded for any Bond adventure, with a secret compartment for a Walther PPK, bullet resistant run flat tyres, a special hatch to facilitate the storage of large rifles, an interactive talking engine, a specially raked windscreen to deflect potential projectiles and a whole host of other features!
Saab Turbo drawing and information sourced from the James Bond 007 Museum