ONCE upon a time James Bond was not famous. Hard to believe; it was a long time ago. On August 15, 2019 at the Monterey auction on America’s West coast, a car that was in at the start of it all (it was an Aston Martin), RM Sotheby’s will be offering a very nearly unique opportunity to acquire a fully restored James Bond car. Some say ‘The James Bond car,’ the DB5.
The James Bond franchise really got a head of steam going with the ‘Goldfinger’ movie released in 1964. The various catch phrases that have now entered the language made their entrance to life then. Martinis, Bond Girls, trilby hats as sexual lures and signifiers, and of course the gadgets.
Lots and lots gadgets. Who could have known that the most memorable gadget would not be Rosa Klebb’s death dealing poisonous bladed shoes (From Russia with Love), nor the death dealing lasers that starred in many of the movies, but rather the car.
The car was the Aston Martin DB5 which was fully loaded with gadgets. The car’s special modifications included several machine guns as well as a raising rear bullet proof screen and even a radar tracking screen embedded into the dashboard.
The DB5 the ‘James Bond Car’ was commissioned by Eon Productions when Ken Adams and special effects man John Stears visited Aston Martin’s Newport Pagnell factory in late 1963. No one would have foreseen the effect that the Aston Martin would have in the movie, nor the effect that the movie would have on the fortunes of Aston Martin.
For ‘Goldfinger,’ two cars were built one fully loaded with all the gadgets and one for the stunt driving and chase sequences. Two further cars were built likewise for ‘Thunderball.’ One of the four specially built DB5s has been lost. While the car on sale at the Monterey auction is one of the pair ordered to promote Thunderball; chassis number DB5/2008/R.
Q the weapons master explained to James Bond as played by Sean Connery, the Snow Shadow Grey painted DB5 was a very special car. Equipped with front and rear over-rider rams on the bumpers, a .30 calibre machine gun in each wing and as well as wheel hub mounted tire slashers and a raising rear bullet proof screen. More passive kit included a radar tracking scope, revolving licence plates returning to active counter measure were smoke screens and oil slick and caltrops [spiky things to burst tyres of pursuing cars]. Years before the modern era the car came equipped with a telephone so that James Bond could keep in touch even while on the move. Who could ever forget the passenger seat ejector system!
Barney Ruprecht, Car Specialist, RM Sotheby’s said with no hint of understatement, “No other car in history has played a more important leading role on film and in pop culture than the Aston Martin DB5. The DB5 is the iconic cornerstone of a marketing relationship that still exists to this day – with the model’s collectible status rooted largely in its 007 fame – and we look forward to exciting car and film enthusiasts alike in the lead up to the auction. This is an unbelievably rare chance to play secret agent in a car that offers incredible performance and style in its own right and we’re honoured to offer the Bond DB5 alongside our partners at Aston Martin.”
Of course we now know that ‘Goldfinger’ was a smash hit. The movie it is argued cemented the franchise and it certainly was a major boost for Aston Martin who saw sales surge. The rest as it is said is history. One example of the car the first Stears modified car has been lost since 1997, leaving just three examples.
The car on offer at Monterey in August is one of only two built from new with all the Bond gadgets. The 2008/R also has a minimal chain of ownership, just three private owners in more than 50 years. The Aston Martin DB5/2008/R is a highly desirable object for a collector or Sotheby’s suggest a secret agent. Estimates are in the range of US$4 million to US$6 million.
Nick Horne, London, England