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1965 James Bond 007 Aston Martin DB5, chassis DB5/2008/R
1965 James Bond 007 Aston Martin DB5, chassis DB5/2008/R

One of the 1965 James Bond 007 Aston Martin DB5 movie cars will be offered during the 2019 RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale, which will be held August 15-17 during Monterey Classic Car Week.

The James Bond 007 Aston Martin will headline ‘An Evening with Aston Martin’, a special single-marque sale session at the company’s 2019 Monterey auction on 15 August. RM Sotheby’s will present the 1965 DB5, one of three surviving examples commissioned in period by Eon Productions and fitted with MI6 Q Branch specifications as pictured in Goldfinger.

No one could have predicted the successful multi-decade synergy that would develop when production designer Ken Adam and special effects man John Stears visited Aston Martin’s Newport-Pagnell plant in late 1963. The two men were on a mission to source a pair of the latest Aston Martin models for use in Eon Productions’ third adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel, again about the MI6 superspy James Bond. The film was called Goldfinger.

Two near-identical cars were built and loaned to Eon Productions for filming, with each fulfilling various roles; one for stunt driving and chase sequences and therefore needing to be lightweight and fast, and the other for interior shots and close-ups, to be equipped with functional modifications created by Stears. As Desmond Llewelyn’s legendary weapons-master Q would go on to explain to Sean Connery’s 007, the Snow Shadow Gray-painted DB5 was equipped with front and rear hydraulic over-rider rams on the bumpers, a Browning .30 caliber machine gun in each fender, wheel-hub mounted tire-slashers, a raising rear bullet-proof screen, an in-dash radar tracking scope, oil, caltrop and smoke screen dispensers, revolving license plates, and a passenger-seat ejection system. Although never used during the film, the car was also equipped with a telephone in the driver’s door to communicate with MI6 headquarters and a hidden compartment under the driver’s seat containing several weapons.

The smash success of Goldfinger was also a success for Aston Martin, which saw DB5 sales surge to fuel an unprecedented level of production. The producers at Eon also took notice of the appeal and potential marketing opportunities. In preparation for Thunderball’s release, the company ordered two more DB5 saloons, receiving chassis DB5/2008/R, the example on offer at the 2019 RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale, and DB5/2017/R. The two cars were fitted with all of Stears’ Goldfinger modifications and were shipped to the United States for promotional duties for Thunderball.

Following the tour, the two cars were no longer required as the next two Bond films debuted with different, more current automobiles in the hero roles and, accordingly, they were offered for sale in 1969. The cars were soon purchased as a pair by well-known collector Anthony (now Lord) Bamford, whose British registration for chassis 2008/R remains on file. The Aston Martin build record lists Eon Productions as the original purchaser, with the important designation of being a “(Bond Car)” noted.

Bamford then sold DB5/2008/R to B.H. Atchley, the owner of the Smokey Mountain Car Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The Aston Martin was featured as the museum’s centerpiece, remaining in a state of display for 35 years, receiving regular start-ups for exercise. In 2006, RM offered this Bond DB5 for public sale, in a largely unrestored state.

Since that time, a restoration by Switzerland’s Roos Engineering was completed. Roos Engineering is one of 13 specialist facilities whom Aston Martin have appointed as official Heritage Specialists. Not only were the chassis and body completely refinished to proper standards, but all thirteen of the John Stears-designed Bond modifications were properly refurbished to function as originally built.

Barney Ruprecht, Car Specialist, RM Sotheby’s commented: “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.”

The first Stears-modified car has been lost since 1997, narrowing the number of surviving examples to three. The car on offer is one of two built from new with all Bond gadgetry, and chassis 2008/R stands apart with its minimal chain of ownership, having had three private owners over 50 years, including a 35-year period of museum exhibition. The 1965 James Bond 007 Aston Martin DB5 is estimated to sell for $4,000,000 – $6,000,000.

The Bond DB5 leads ‘An Evening with Aston Martin’, a special third auction evening on 15 August during RM Sotheby’s 2019 Monterey sale, featuring more than 30 Aston Martin cars from across the marque’s history. This year’s Monterey sale will present more than 120 motor cars.

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[Source: RM Sotheby’s; photos: Simon Clay]