You Only Live Twice: Bond’s Gray Herringbone Suit in Aki’s Toyota
Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent presumed dead
Tokyo, Summer 1966
Film: You Only Live Twice
Release Date: June 13, 1967
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Master: Eileen Sullivan
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond.
Sean Connery’s fifth film as James Bond was the first of the franchise to considerably depart from Ian Fleming’s source novel, though it retains the title, the basic plot line and characters, and the Japanese setting. In fact, while most Bond films are continent-hopping travelogues, Japan hosts the majority of the action in You Only Live Twice aside from the pre-credits sequence, set in Hong Kong where Bond is ostensibly murdered.
Of course, it’s hardly a spoiler to reveal that the assassination is a ruse to fool Bond’s enemies into thinking he is out of the picture while the agent himself lives to die another day… in fact, you could say he lived twice! Presumed dead by his enemies after his burial at sea, Bond is free to be sent to Japan to investigate a mysterious spacecraft that has seemingly landed in the Sea of Japan. Bond soon makes contact with his lovely ally Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), who drives him around Tokyo in a sporty Toyota 2000GT that had been customized by the production to accommodate Sean Connery’s height.
I had long wanted to cover this sequence as I love Bond’s tailoring, Aki’s Toyota, and the trio of drinks he imbibes with varying degrees of satisfaction, but it felt particularly appropriate to write about for a #CarWeek post this 00-7th of July given James Bond’s safe pro-masking message…
Despite his suspicions after the murder of his contact, Dikko Henderson (Charles Gray, before he was Blofeld), Bond again hops a ride with Aki, admittedly under the more desperate circumstances of escaping the gunfire encountered while following up on a lead at the corporate headquarters of Osato Chemicals. She easily lures him into an abandoned subway station, where he falls through a trap door and literally drops in to the office of the chief of the Japanese Secret Service. Upon Bond’s arrival, the debonair Tiger Tanaka (Tetsurō Tamba) cheekily comments:
I am a trifle disappointed at the ease with which I could pull you in. The one thing my honorable mother taught me long ago was never to get into a car with a strange girl, but you—I’m afraid—will get into anything with any girl!
What’d He Wear?
James Bond arrives in Tokyo wearing a gray business suit explored in comprehensive detail by Matt Spaiser for Bond Suits, required reading for 007 fans and sartorial enthusiasts in general. As with all of his suits as James Bond dating back to Dr. No through Diamonds are Forever, Connery’s suits in You Only Live Twice were tailored by the prolific Anthony Sinclair of Mayfair, creator of what would become known as the subtle and elegant “Conduit Cut”, described in detail by Bond Suits.
The suiting is a black-and-gray herringbone wool, woven in a fine gauge that looks looks like a gray self-stripe cloth for an effective and appropriate business suit, though it could be unseasonably warm-wearing for a summer evening in Tokyo where the average temperature is at least 80°F on a given day in July. (Bond’s dark blue mohair/wool suit the following day would be a more seasonally appropriate choice.)
Connery’s single-breasted suit jacket has a lower two-button stance that neatly harmonizes with the trousers by fastening at the natural waist line. Tailored with soft shoulders and roped sleeveheads, the jacket has a single vent and four-button cuffs.
In addition to the welted breast pocket without a pocket square, the jacket has straight flapped hip pockets, though the flaps are occasionally tucked into the pockets for a minimalist effect that shows only the pocket jetting; Bond evidently keeps a safecracking device in the left hip pocket which, despite its clunky size, magically fails to disrupt the lines of his jacket until he needs it in Osato’s office.
Like the other trousers tailored by Anthony Sinclair for Connery’s Bond, these double forward-pleated suit trousers almost certainly have the three-button “DAKS top” side adjusters on each side of the waistband as well as straight side pockets and legs that taper down to the bottoms finished with turn-ups (cuffs).
In keeping with Japanese customs, Bond removes his shoes outside Dikko Henderson’s rooms, entering the room in his dark navy ribbed dress socks. The subsequent events land 007 in a very uncharacteristic pair of two-toned shoes which we’ll explore shortly, but the slip-ons he left outside appear to be the same black grain leather plain-toe Venetian loafers he would wear with his blue suit the following day. Perhaps Aki kindly recovered the shoes from outside Henderson’s door?
Sean Connery continues wearing shirts with distinctive “cocktail cuffs”, a stylish if somewhat affected alternative to the double cuff that also provides an additional layer around the wrist but closes with buttons rather than cuff links. The shirts Turnbull & Asser made for Connery’s Bond have elegantly rounded turnback cuffs, worn rolled back over each wrist and fastened with two buttons.
Unlike the blue shirts he often wore with his gray suits in Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and Thunderball, Connery complements his herringbone suit in You Only Live Twice with a pale ecru poplin shirt, a shade warmer than white, detailed with spread collar and front placket. He does, however, press back into the service the navy grenadine silk tie, also from T&A, which had been a Connery Bond staple dating back to Dr. No.
After Dikko is murdered, Bond charges through the wall in pursuit of his assassin, eventually overtaking and killing the man. Realizing that danger may remain behind him and with no surviving leads, Bond takes a chance by adopting the henchman’s coat, hat, protective face mask, and shoes—the latter for both his disguise and since his quick escape left him in stockinged feet—and hops into the back seat of the Dodge sedan.
Though the all-black fedora and trench coat aren’t from Bond’s own wardrobe, they’re traditional and tasteful enough that they nicely complement his herringbone suit and add a noirish aura to 007’s shadowy escape.
The olive gabardine coat is styled like a classic double-breasted trench coat with its ten-button front, hook-and-eye neck latch, and waist belt accented with D-rings. Befitting the garment’s weather-resilient serviceability, this trench coat also has the prescribed storm (gun) flap on the right side and straight umbrella-style yoke across the back, and there is a hand pocket with a large slanted welt opening on each side. The raglan sleeves begin at the neck under each epaulette (shoulder strap), ending with a belted strap around each cuff.
The coat’s red-on-black plaid lining may help ID its manufacturer, as the colorway and plaid pattern don’t appear to be consistent with those used by contemporary rainwear stalwarts Aquascutum, Burberry, or London Fog.
And now… those shoes. While two-toned shoes certainly have a deserved place in the wardrobes of flashier dressers, Sean Connery’s Bond invariably partnered his tastefully tailored English suits with subtle and often elegant black dress shoes of both the laced and loafer varieties. Having been separated from his shoes in hot pursuit of Henderson’s killer, Bond quickly improvises and slips into the sporty shoes of the man he just killed. (John McClane wishes it was that easy!)
These spectator-adjacent slip-on shoes have white leather vamp and quarters, connected by black triangular elastic gussets on each side of the instep, with hard leather soles. The heels and V-shaped toe caps are black leather, the toes lacking the inward-facing center point of a traditional wingtip, instead a thin black leather stripe extends up most of the vamp from the center of the toe piece, ending over the instep.
Under Bond’s left shirt cuff, we get a glimpse of his watch, which appears to be the dress watch identified by Dell Deaton as a Gruen Precision 510 rather than any of the Rolex Submariner divers that Bond prominently wore across Connery’s first four Bond movies. According to Dell’s evidence presented on his blog, James Bond Watches, this thin 17-jewel Gruen has a 34mm gold-filled case and was worn by Connery on a 16mm-wide black textured fabric strap.
What (and What Not) to Imbibe
James Bond’s first night in Japan is a tale of three drinks, all providing varying degrees of satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) to our sophisticated agent and his very particular tastes. While all of us have differing standards and palettes, I thought it would be fun to consider a tongue-in-cheek breakdown of the libations flavoring 007’s arrival.
Drink #1: Vodka Martini
Of course! Anyone even vaguely familiar with James Bond is aware of the agent’s preference for vodka martinis, “shaken… not stirred.”
Evidently, there was a breakdown in MI6’s internal communications as the gregarious Dikko Henderson was misinformed when preparing a martini for his new friend. Russian vodka? Check. Dry vermouth? Check.
After a strong start, Dikko finishes miserably by stirring the drink and pouring it into a Collins glass, adding insult to injury when he confirms with Bond: “Oh, that’s stirred, not shaken… that was right, wasn’t it?” The disarming Dikko charms Bond into polite compliance. “Perfect… cheers,” Bond toasts.
Final Grade: C. At least Dikko used Russian vodka… and I’d be intrigued to know more about the “certain other things” that are provided with said vodka by that mysterious doorman at the Soviet embassy.
Mixology-minded critics often take expert with Mr. Bond’s signature martini order, and their rationale was succinctly summarized by Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) in an episode of The West Wing: “Shaken, not stirred, will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.” The late Dikko would have no doubt found President Bartlet to be a welcome drinking companion.
Drink #2: Siamese Vodka
If Bond thought having to guzzle Henderson’s “stirred, not shaken” vodka martini was torture, his bad night just got plenty worse when he attempts to recover himself following a brutal fight with a swallow of vodka… only to learn that it’s Siamese vodka!
What kind of monster is this Osato that he even keeps this rotgut in his office bar? If we didn’t know he was a villain before, it’s all but assured now.
Final Grade: F. Bond probably wishes he had lost the fight… his grimace suggests that the victor’s spoils were considerably spoiled.
I knew I couldn’t be the first to question whether or not Bond’s aversion to Thai vodka was grounded in any reality, and a quick search led me to this question posed on the Straight Dope message board in 2013, where the prevailing opinion seems to be that, while the country’s whiskey, rum, and moonshine (lao khao) are well-known, there has not been a major concentrated effort for any Thai companies to attempt mass production of local vodka. I’ve rationalized Bond’s comment in my mind to suggest that he grabbed a bottle expecting vodka and took an unexpected swig of lao khao.
Drink #3: Sake
The third time was the charm, once Bond was safely ensconced in Tiger Tanaka’s headquarters and offered sake, the national beverage of Japan. Bond enthusiastically accepts the sake, and indicates his approval via admiration for it being served at the correct temperature of 98.4°F. This knowledge—which some may interpret as reverse snobbery—endears him to Tiger, who comments that Bond is “exceptionally cultivated… for a European.”
Though the Japanese name for sake, nihonshu, translates to “Japanese wine”, the process to create this fermented wine beverage is closer to brewing beer. I’ve also read that the correct temperature for serving is slightly higher than Bond comments, ranging between 100°F and 104°F.
Final Grade: A. Bond approves and appreciates being served a regionally appropriate libation.
Once again, Bond is armed with his signature Walther PPK. The PPK does not make an appearance in the source novel by Ian Fleming, which keeps its specific firearms references unique to a police corporal’s Nambu Type 14 pistol and a “small automatic” carried by SPECTRE operative Kono.
Bond’s notoriety had evidently included his sidearm of choice by the events of You Only Live Twice as Osato identifies the agent by the recognizable profile of his Walther PPK as seen by his office X-ray device. He draws and fires it multiple times over the first two days in Japan, first to allay his suspicions of Dikko Henderson and again when doing battle with Osato’s henchmen first outside the corporate headquarters and again at the docks.
The Walther PPK was introduced in 1930 as a smaller evolution of the Walther PP introduced the year earlier by German weapons manufacturer Carl Walther GmbH. Like its predecessor, the PPK was primarily chambered in .32 ACP (7.65x17mm Browning SR) or .380 ACP (9×17 mm Short), though it took one less round of each for a total magazine capacity of seven and six, respectively. James Bond’s PPK was established in the books and the first films to be the .32-caliber PPK.
Although You Only Live Twice is considered quintessential classic 007 for its oft-referenced (and parodied) elements, this fifth installment in EON Productions’ official series also breaks from the established Bond formula in several ways: we never see James Bond in a tuxedo, all action is set primarily in one country, and—most relevant to this particular section—it marks the first time we never see Bond operating a car on screen.
When not operating Little Nellie to navigate Japanese airspace, Bond rides shotgun in Aki’s sleek white 1967 Toyota 2000GT sports car, converted into a convertible to accommodate Sean Connery’s height.
The Toyota 2000GT demonstrated the talents and capabilities of the Japanese automotive industry to the rest of the world. The concept began in the mid-1960s when Yamaha, its A550X design ultimately rejected by Nissan, took its prototype to Toyota, who accepted but on the condition that it be redesigned internally with Yamaha to build. Forging ahead with the direction “Do whatever necessary to not only produce the Toyota 2000GT, but make it one of the—or perhaps even the—greatest car in the world” as outlined in the official design brief, Toyota industrial designer Satoru Nozaki took cues from successful European sports cars like the Jaguar E-Type, Lotus Elan, and Porsche with his sleek, smooth, and low grand tourer. Perhaps in anticipation of the international demand, the 2000GT was designed with retracting headlights to meet California’s headlight height regulations.
After an enthusiastic reception when unveiled at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, the Toyota 2000GT entered its limited production run of only 351 total cars manufactured under contract by Yamaha between 1967 and 1970.
During this brief but iconic production timeline, the aluminum-bodied 2000GT would undergo few cosmetic or mechanical changes. The standard engine was a longitudinally mounted 1988 cc straight-six similar to what was offered in the Toyota Crown sedan, mated to a five-speed all-synchromesh manual transmission (though an automatic transmission would become an option for the last few 2000GTs.) Yamaha coupled three 2-barrel Mikuni-Solex carburetors to a new DOHC head, boosting power output to 148 horsepower for a more performance-oriented engine that launched the car from 0 to 60 mph in less than ten seconds and an ultimate top speed nearing 140 mph.
In addition to the 233 cars made under the MF-10 chassis code described above, Toyota produced a run of 109 MF-10L cars with left-side steering for the North American market. A much rarer variant with only nine produced was the MF-12L, built with the larger 2253 cc (2.3 L) two-valve Toyota 2M-B SOHC engine that offered higher torque but a lower power output.
Though initial sales were low, the Toyota 2000GT was enthusiastically received by the global automotive community and remains a much-sought collector’s car, for its prominent role in the James Bond series as well as its attractive styling, pleasant ride experience and reliability, and significance as arguably the first true Japanese supercar.
1967 Toyota 2000GT
Body Style: 2-door convertible (customized from fastback coupe)
Layout: front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive (FMR)
Engine: 1988 cc (2.0 L) Toyota 3M DOHC I6 with three Mikuni-Solex 40 PHH 2-barrel carburetors
Power: 148 bhp (110 kW; 150 PS) @ 6600 RPM
Torque: 129 lb·ft (175 N·m) @ 5000 RPM
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Wheelbase: 91.3 inches (2320 mm)
Length: 164.4 inches (4175 mm)
Width: 63 inches (1600 mm)
Height: 45.7 inches (1160 mm)
Toyota wisely jumped at the opportunity to provide two 2000GT cars to be featured in You Only Live Twice, undoubtedly aware of the positive visibility that would come from starring in a James Bond movie… though some buyers may have been disappointed to learn that Aki’s convertible seen so prominently on screen didn’t really exist.
The strapping Sean Connery’s 6’2″ height meant some adjustments would need to be made for the star to comfortably fit in the 2000GT’s cockpit, even if he wouldn’t be behind the wheel. To retain the smooth fastback lines of the original design, a targa top semi-convertible approach was considered until it was realized that Connery’s head sticking through this roof would look more asinine than aspirational. The entire roof was eventually lopped off, creating an effective roadster with a faux tonneau cover where the convertible roof would be stowed (had it existed.)
Whether or not the experience is remembered fondly by Connery, another James Bond has voiced his enthusiasm for the 2000GT; in fact, Daniel Craig stated in the Top Gear “50 Years of Bond Cars” special in 2012 that the You Only Live Twice Toyota remains his favorite car from the Bond canon.
You can read more about the Toyota 2000GT in these pieces I sourced for the above information:
- “A Brief History of the Toyota 2000GT – Everything You Need to Know” by Jon Branch (Silodrome)
- “Toyota 2000GT” (Wikipedia)
- “Toyota 2000GT Roadster – You Only Live Twice” (Supercar Nostalgia)
How to Get the Look
Sean Connery’s 007 arrives in Japan dressed tastefully and professionally in his herringbone suit and characteristic “cocktail cuff” shirt and grenadine tie, though the warm-wearing herringbone wool may have been best reserved for a cooler climate than Tokyo in July.
- Black-and-gray herringbone wool “Conduit Cut” tailored business suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, spaced 4-button cuffs, and long single vent
- Double forward-pleated trousers with 3-button “Daks top” side adjusters, side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Pale ecru poplin dress shirt with spread collar, front placket, and 2-button turnback/”cocktail” cuffs
- Navy blue grenadine silk tie
- Black grain leather plain-toe Venetian loafers
- Dark navy ribbed dress socks
- Gruen Precision 510 dress watch with 34mm yellow gold case on black textured strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
A few comments on the drinks:
First, President Bartlet is being very snooty about being wrong! As Dave Arnold found during his research for Liquid Intelligence (the most important book for anyone serious about precision in cocktails), all standard ice used in drinks (so excluding crushed ice or gigantic blocks too big to fit in a glass) has the same amount of chilling power, which is provided by the water that enters the cocktail at below the freezing point when used to dilute it. The only real difference is that shaking causes this to happen faster than stirring, which allows the drink to be prepared quicker, while also aerating the drink and thus giving a somewhat different texture and appearance. A sufficiently long stir will achieve the same effect. Also, liquor in Bond’s time was higher in proof as standard on the shelf (vodka was usually 50% ABV and gin usually around 47.5% ABV) so shaking a martini made with liquor of that proof will result in a similar drink to a modern stirred one with 40% spirits.
Second, serving sake hot is usually a way to disguise the bad flavors of cheap sake. This was common until 30 or 40 years ago, but modern sake is often of a much higher quality and is best enjoyed slightly chilled like a white wine.
These provide terrific context – thank you! Liquid Intelligence sounds like a necessary addition to my own library – I’n sure seen it referenced before, but yours is the most definitive endorsement yet.
How do you prefer your martinis?
I prefer more vermouth than less, usually 3:1. I’ll even go to a 50:50 when I’m in the mood.
I always found it interesting that both this suit and the blue suit in YOLT are American style single vent jackets, rather than the British style double vent jacket one would expect for the quintessential British spy.
Did you know that there was another copy of this exact suit in existence? That was how David Mason (current owner of Anthony Sinclair) got the firm back in business, along with Mr. Sinclair’s former apprentice, Mr. Richard Paine. It was still in excellent condition after all that year, and on an interview some years back, Mr. Paine noted the amount of handworks on the piece.
Best of British tailoring. Proud to be a client of the new Anthony Sinclair myself.