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His number, 007, is known only to His Majesty's Secret Service. But the driving force behind his super cars, 13 -- as in the 13th element on the periodic table -- is known to anyone with a high school chemistry book.

With a cameo-role unnoticed by most movie-goers, aluminum played a key -- if not highly secretive -- role in most of the vehicles featured in the hit James Bond movie, Die Another Day. According to covert operatives at The Aluminum Association, Inc., it can now be revealed that the dashing 007, sultry Jinx and villainous Zao drove high performance vehicles that benefited from tactical use of aluminum deployed in each vehicle's construction. The good news for consumers is that you don't need someone like Q to put this lightweight supermetal into the cars we drive everyday.

"Anyone savvy enough to order his martinis shaken, not stirred, might be pleased to learn that using aluminum in his getaway car can enhance acceleration, braking and handling ... anything else would be, well, uncivilized," observed Dr. Richard L. Klimisch, Vice President of The Aluminum Association.

Aluminum is the fastest-growing automotive material today. Experts agree that opting for high strength aluminum over heavier, more traditional materials in automotive design and construction can deliver distinct performance advantages. That is because lighter vehicles generally offer superior handling, faster acceleration and better braking.

"Agent 007 may have a license to kill, but thanks to the performance advantages offered by aluminum, he may prefer to use his license to drive," said Klimisch with a wink.

Cars benefiting from aluminum in the movie include:

Aston Martin Vanquish V12

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) drives the Vanquish V12, an ultra-luxury, high-performance coupe that sports exterior aluminum body panels, an aluminum floor and a 450 hp 6-liter aluminum engine. Aston Martin used specially bonded aluminum (no pun intended) and hand-assembled the car -- much like an airplane. The resulting super car sets a benchmark for performance and tops out at a cool 190 miles per hour.

Ford Thunderbird

Jinx (Halle Berry) tools around in a new, coral-colored Thunderbird designed to match the color of her now-famous, onscreen bikini. With a modern-retro look on the Thunderbird's exterior, Ford opted for the latest aluminum technologies on the inside with a 280 hp, V8 aluminum engine, aluminum suspension and front brake calipers to turn out a smooth ride. This T-Bird glides along on gleaming 17-inch cast aluminum wheels.

Jaguar XKR

Zao (Rick Yune) pursues his dastardly mission while cruising in a sleek, new Jaguar XKR. This cool cat has an aluminum cylinder block, engine head and brake calipers. The twin-intercooled, supercharged 4.2-liter V8 churns out an explosive 390 horsepower, enabling the big cat to lunge to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

Other vehicles featured in Die Another Day:

Land Rover Range Rover

Range Rover's body panels are constructed with aluminum, which helps keep body weight down and improve safety by lowering the center of gravity. It also has aluminum front fenders, engine block, cylinder heads and transmission case. Consumers also benefit from a lightweight, easy to open aluminum hood.

Volvo S60

This luxury sedan features an aluminum subframe, which adds to driving performance by reducing mass while at the same time boasting the high levels of safety for which Volvo has come to be known.

Volvo S80

Volvo engineers opted for an aluminum rear axle over a steel one to improve the S80's performance and reduce vibration. Volvo also confirms that an aluminum axle transmits less noise inside the car.

Ford StreetKa

This jaunty and stylish roadster was designed by the famed Ghia studios. The StreetKa features safety critical aluminum roll bars, roof and bulkhead, as well as providing a significant reduction in vehicle mass.

Ford GT

While the original GT40 LeMans car from the 1960s was featured in the film, it should be noted Ford is reintroducing this mythical two-seater in 2003 as the GT -- and it's loaded with aluminum. The GT is gifted with an all-aluminum, supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine that produces 500 horsepower. Its aluminum frame more than handles the engine's mega output, yet still provides precision handling on the far side of 180 mph.

"It's no coincidence that Bond's coolest cars use the hottest metal to make the hippest movie. Just imagine what aluminum does for the cars and trucks the rest of us drive," Klimisch concluded.

The Aluminum Association, based in Washington, D.C. with offices in Detroit, Mich., represents primary producers of aluminum, recyclers and producers of semi-fabricated products. Member companies operate almost 200 plants in the United States and many conduct business worldwide. To learn more about automotive aluminum applications and attributes, please visit http://www.autoaluminum.org .
 
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