In The Bourne Identity, amnesiac Matt Damon escapes from mysterious tormentors with penniless Franka Potente and her vintage Mini Cooper. (That's the same tiny car that, in its current incarnation, Michael Caine drives in Austin Powers in Goldmember).

"It was the kind of car that her character, a gypsy, could have," says producer Frank Marshall. "It's got to be at least 20 to 25 years since that model was made. So it was an old car but it was also a hip car.

"When I was younger, it was a very cool car to have,"
he adds. "It was my fantasy to drive one of those across Europe, from ski resort to ski resort."

Marshall explains that the car seemed like an everyday car that would be found in Europe, where Identity is set. The Bourne character "does not have the Aston Martin that M would have given James Bond. He had to use his brains to get out of there. I mean, this is the only time you've seen a character take out a map before he went on one of these chases. And that's why he says to her, 'You take good care of this car?' "

The other thing that the Mini has going for it is that it is an outrageously small car, perfect for getting out of a tight spot or speeding through European alleyways and down some steep concrete stairs. In effect, it's perfect for a high-speed chase in a spy thriller.

After all, this was the car of choice in the classic spy movies of the '60s and '70s. (One of them, 1969's The Italian Job, starring Caine, remade with the new model Mini Cooper.)

But while Minis might be hardy, they cannot really take the torture that Bourne dispenses while determining his identity.

"We found five Mini Coopers to make the film," Marshall says. "We have one left."

by Andy Seiler USA Today

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