Early in the James Bond thriller "Skyfall," a railcar door opens, and there sits the legendary Aston Martin DB5.
That car, made famous in early Bond films such as "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball," makes its return to the screen to instant approval of the audience and to sports car lovers.
Why are cars synonymous with James Bond?
"The sports car represents a male fantasy -- of material success and success with women. The two generally go together," said James Chapman, professor of film studies at the University of Leicester in England, in an email interview. "See Chapter 2 of the book 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' when it says 'the sexy boom of the twin exhausts' of Tracy's Lancia Flaminia Zagato Spyder."
In 23 movies dating to "Dr. No" in 1962, Bond has driven in more than 150 cars, including BMWs, Aston Martins, Bentleys, Mercedes-Benzes and Lotuses. In the latest movie, out today, you'll see a handful.
"Bond's cars are an indication of the moving times," Chapman said. "In Ian Fleming's books, Bond drove a vintage Bentley -- well, actually two, as his first was totaled in 'Moonraker.' This linked Bond to the 'Clubland Hero' tradition of British fiction. The films in the 1960s wanted to emphasize modernity rather than tradition, so the Bentley was written out and the Aston Martin DB5 became Bond's official car. Now, in 'Skyfall,' the DB5, a 1964 model, is retro and therefore provides a link with Bond's past."
Steve Serio, president and general manager of Lotus Motorsports/Aston Martin of New England, has been a car buff for more than 30 years. He has already seen the movie twice in previews.
"It's a shame that people don't realize the car is still being made, outside of the hard-core car world," Serio said. "When the DB5 was made and put in the movies, it became the most famous car in the world. The car became a man's machine that would attract women."
ESPN.com NASCAR reporter David Newton is a huge Bond fan.
"It's the first movie I remember my dad ever taking me to. Every time a new one came out, we went together," Newton said. "We had his 80th birthday party this past weekend and we're ready to go to the newest Bond film."
Newton said he's passing on this tradition to his sons.
"My youngest  already is trying to find a time to go with me," Newton said. "I love the Aston Martins ... the cars -- and maybe the ladies -- were what I looked forward to in each one."
IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti said he started watching the movies as a child and always loved the DB5.
"I can remember the cars, the girls, the exotic locations, the gadgets and the great action. What's not to love?" Franchitti said. "Every Christmas growing up in Scotland, they had a tradition of showing one Bond film each year, and I ended up taping them on the family VCR. I still have the whole collection, commercial breaks and all!"
Franchitti gave Playbook his thoughts on his favorite Bond cars.
Franchitti's ranking of 007 cars
1. Aston Martin DB 5 (Goldfinger, Thunderball, Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall)
Comment: "The iconic Bond car. Not much else to say, really. Stunning!"
2. Lotus Esprit S1 (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Comment: "Who doesn't want a car that turns into a submarine?"
3. Aston Martin DBS V12 (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace)
Comment: "Beautiful car with a great motor in it. I hope it's a company car or the depreciation will be a nightmare for Bond!"
4. Mercury Cougar XR7 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
Comment: "Looks great with French license plates. I loved the car chase through the Alps and then onto the ice racing track with the old period rally cars."
5. Toyota 2000 GT convertible (You Only Live Twice)
Comment: "I think only two were ever made. Sean Connery couldn't fit in the normal coupe version! It was a stunning-looking car."
6. 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III (Goldfinger)
Comment: "Well, it is made of gold!"
7. AMC Hornet (The Man With The Golden Gun)
Comment: "Probably a crap car, but the 360-degree loop over the broken bridge is a classic Bond stunt."
8. Mercedes 600 Pullman (Octopussy)
Comment: "It was only in the film for a couple of seconds and it was the bad guy's car, but I've always loved these."
9. Rickshaw with a big motor (Octopussy)
Comment: "Typical mad gadget of Bond in the '80s. I loved it!"
10. Lotus Esprit Turbo (For Your Eyes Only)
Comment: "It got blown up very early, but then a new one appeared looking very cool with skis on the back. I'll bet the traction in the snow was crap with those low-profile Goodyears on it!"
Bond expert and professor Chapman said he saw his first Bond movie in 1977 and thinks the film franchise has endured through a "changing cultural and ideological landscape."
"The appeal of the Bond films is as genre films: We know what to expect -- and are disappointed if the latest film doesn't deliver the exotic locations, the action set pieces and the beautiful women," Chapman said. "Our pleasure arises in large measure from seeing how the producers offer us variations on the formula."