but not shaken
James Bond's DB5 coming up for sale
Product placement unknown in 1964
Quick — name the most
famous car in the world.
Forget the Mustang in
Bullitt. My money's on the car in the picture
to the right.
Can there be anything
more iconic than James Bond's Aston Martin DB5
— the one from Goldfinger and Thunderball with
the machine guns and the ejector seat?
There's one being
prepared for sale just down Hwy. 401 at
Chatham. It's the real deal, too: one of a
pair bought by the Bond production company in
the '60s to promote the movies.
Whether or not this one
actually saw time in front of a movie camera
is debatable, but it's been kitted out with
all the toys of the time.
As well as the guns and
tire shredder, and a removable but non-ejectable
passenger seat, it has a mock-up of a
navigation screen in the dash, satellite
receiver in the driver's wing mirror and even
a phone, with cloth-covered cord, in the door.
car, like its driver, was way ahead of its
time. The DB5's sleek and sexy sophistication,
and its innovative gadgetry, made it the icon
in movie pop culture.
But the choice wasn't
immediate. The Bond movie production house was
mulling over which car to use in the third
Bond movie when the producers noted the DB5.
At the time, Aston Martin
was a small and relatively obscure British
automaker which, despite half-a-century of
storied racing history, still only produced a
couple of hundred cars a year.
When asked for a car,
Aston Martin owner David Brown (he of the DB
name) flatly refused. There was no
understanding of the value of product
placement back in 1964.
The car's retail price at
the time was £4,500, be it to princes or
producers. This was twice the price of a new
E-Type Jaguar, so it was an expensive gamble
to go with the smaller manufacturer.
But then James Bond was
no regular spy.
The Bond cars were fitted
with all the tools a secret agent would need.
In the central console, the driver could
easily manipulate the front machine guns and
bulletproof rear screen.
For car chases and
villains in hot pursuit, a smoke screen or oil
slick could be activated at a flick of a
switch. The revolving license plates were from
three different countries — a suggestion from
the film's director who wished for the same,
as he was a collector of parking tickets in
A tire slasher and nail
ejection unit were perfect for thwarting the
enemy's car. The new DB5 model came to rival
Sean Connery as the star of the film.
Demand for the expensive
vehicle was huge, with about a thousand cars
being made in its two-year production run.
fans could satisfy themselves with the
miniature Corgi version. Featuring an ejector
seat and front-mounted machine guns, it was an
instant success, earning the U.K. Toy of the
Year Award. Costing less than a couple of
bucks, more than 3.9 million were sold by 1968
and versions are still available today.
But only four of the
full-size cars can legitimately claim to be
James Bond's DB5, and each has its own story.
The original, known as
the "effects car," was sold back to Aston
Martin after the filming of the movies and all
the special effects equipment was removed. Not
realizing its potential, the company sold the
car to a member of the Aston Martin club as a
That purchaser later put
two and two together and recognized the car as
the actual movie vehicle; he asked Aston
Martin to restore the effects equipment but
the company refused. So he did it himself.
Eventually, it was sold
in 1986 to a Florida real estate developer who
paid $275,000 (U.S.) at Sotheby's auction,
more than double the going rate of a regular
Eleven years later,
though, the car disappeared mysteriously from
a hangar at Boca Raton.
According to a news
report, "Someone sliced through the moulding
on the (airport) hangar door, cut the metal
latch and snipped the alarm. There was no key
in the car, according to police reports, so
the burglar either hot-wired the Aston Martin
DB5 or simply pushed it out of the hangar and
into the night."
The rumoured insurance
settlement was $4.2 million (U.S.). The car is
The second car was the
"road car" used for general filming. It too
was fitted with a set of gadgets. Sold to a
private collector in Philadelphia who doesn't
own any other interesting cars but who loves
Bond, the car is parked in his basement, last
driven a dozen years ago and hidden from view
to all but him and his house guests.
For the worldwide debut
of Thunderball, the fourth Bond movie, two
more DB5s were fashioned as promotional
vehicles. To be authentic, they were
accessorized to the same degree and sent off
to tour the world.
understood the value of the car's appeal.
Sears Roebuck took one of them on tour, housed
in its own customized transporter, with the
rear truck panel proclaiming, "You're trailing
an actual James Bond 007 Aston Martin
automobile — see it at Sears!"
Not very suave or too
sophisticated, but very effective.
The two cars were
purchased by Sir Anthony Bamford, who claimed
they were used in Goldfinger, but this is
unlikely. No matter. Just months later, one
would be traded for a Ferrari GTO and now sits
in the Louwman National Automotive Museum in
In 1970, Bamford put the
fourth car up for sale, asking £5,000. It was
bought by the Smoky Mountain Car Museum in
Pigeon Forge, Tenn. There it sat for 35 years,
paint beginning to fade, leather starting to
peel, gas varnishing the carburettors — until
Together with about 40
other cars from the museum, it will be
auctioned at RM Auctions' Arizona Biltmore
sale in January.
How much is it worth?
Nobody knows, but it's
the only one available, probably for many
years to come. Probably more than a million
dollars, perhaps much more.
The last Bond car to be
sold, the Aston Martin Vanquish driven by
Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day, sold in
2003 for half a million dollars, but this is a
Sean Connery DB5 — a jewel in any collector's