With his laconic dulcet tones, expressive eyebrows and witty Bond one-liners, Moore was better known for his slightly wooden acting style more than his love of cars.
Cars, however, did play an important role of Roger Moore’s acting career, almost upstaging his on-screen performances occasionally. By way of my own tribute to Roger Moore, here are half-a-dozen cars that memorably co-starred with him on both the small and big screens;
Volvo P1800 (The Saint – 1962-69 TV series)
When filming for the popular 1960s ITV television series The Saint began in 1961, the programme’s lead character – Simon Templar, played by Roger Moore – was due to drive the then-new ‘car of the moment’, a Jaguar E-Type. Jaguar had other ideas though, and wouldn’t play ball in loaning a car for the full length of the filming of the first series of The Saint. So, step forward the Volvo Car Corporation, who was very willing to supply the then British-built (by Jensen) Volvo P1800 coupe instead.
The P1800’s leading role on our black and white TV screens in the 1960s helped immensely to establish the Volvo brand name in the UK; a market where the Swedish marque was then largely unknown, with official British imports only starting in the late 1950s, despite Volvo being founded in 1927. The P1800 adding much-needed ‘sex appeal’ to the worthy but dull Swedish make, with the white Frua-designed P1800 becoming an instant screen idle, aided by its iconic ‘match stick man’ with halo Saint logo on the car’s bonnet, and the distinctive STI 1 license plate. Five P1800s were used in total during the 1960s for the filming of The Saint, and a Volvo was also given to Roger Moore for his own use.
In the short-lived ‘The Return of The Saint’ ITV television series in 1978-79, Jaguar finally made up for its 1960s E-Type faux pas by providing the ‘new’ Saint (played by Ian Ogilvy) with a white XJ-S coupe, also registered STI 1. Hollywood also attempted to revive The Saint with the disappointing 1997 movie, reuniting the lead character (played by Val Kilma) with a Volvo, this time the contemporary C70 coupe.