Monday, November 1, 2010

No Mr. Bond, I expect you to buy: 007’s DB5 fetches US$4.6 Million at auction

Well, it's done. The world's most famous Aston Martin was sold last week for a whopping £2,912,000 (US$4,608,500) by RM Auctions of London. The price includes a £30,000 tailored suit by Gieves & Hawkes of Savile Row (who dressed Sean Connery from Dr No to Diamonds are Forever) and a 7 night stay for 10 guests at Ian Fleming's former estate in Jamaica, valued at £40,000.

The new owner is an American business man by the name of Harry Yeaggy, who plans to put the car on public display in Ohio. Don't feel too sorry for the Aston's seller and only other ex-factory owner, Philadelphia radio broadcaster Jerry Lee, though. He's got a good return on his original investment of $12,000 in 1969 (equal to around US$71,400 in today's money, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics), all of which will be going to his self-named charity.

The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 should need no introduction. It was driven by Sean Connery's James Bond in Goldfinger and Thunderball and is probably one of the most iconic cars to ever grace the silver screen. This particular example comes with the trademark Silver Birch exterior and dark grey (not black) interior trim and a 282 bhp (210 kw) 4.0 L inline six mated to a 5sp manual transmission.

It was originally the Road Car, used for chase scenes and beauty shots, with no gadgets fitted. When you see James Bond chasing Tilly Masterson's white Ford Mustang along Swiss mountain roads in Goldfinger, it's this car you see. It has done just 30,000 miles (48,280 km), mostly from its pre-production touring days.

After Thunderball, Aston Martin asked that the Road Car be fitted with the full complement of gadgets so that it could go on tour with two special-built Press Car siblings. It has all the Ken Adams / John Stears Q Branch mods you would expect including revolving numberplates, machine guns behind the indicators and the concealed ejector seat button in the gear knob.

Jerry Lee bought the Road Car direct from Aston Martin in the late '60s, placing it in a purpose-built, climate-controlled room where it spent the next forty-one years. It only left to make a handful of public appearances, the last of which was in 1992.

Before the sale, RM's own Auto Restoration Shop returned the car to roadworthy condition, a process which included a full engine service, clutch work, rebuilding of the brakes and a new exhaust - all done to factory specifications.

Apart from the suit (which has thread made of solid gold, would you believe) and the hotel stay, there's the usual plethora of memorabilia - some of which is collectible and/or autographed - including period photographs, a copy of the original bill of sale and a certificate of authenticity from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust.

So there you have it. One very special car, sold for a very special price. Harry Yeaggy is one lucky (former?) millionaire.

By Tristan Hankins