There are few things as associated with the James Bond character as the Aston Martin DB5. Okay, there are the women, the booze, the gadgets, and the totally unrealistic physical prowess of a seemingly unkillable fictional person who is really a glorified civil servant.
Different cars have come and gone from the Bond universe, but even as the movie franchise was being wooed by BMW, which introduced the world to its pocket-sized Z3 roadster via Bond with Goldeneye in the fall of 1995, that film still featured a prominent scene with an Aston Martin DB5. And, like many movie cars, but most certainly Bond cars, this one will get a ton of attention when Bonhams offers it at its sale coinciding with the Goodwood Festival of Speed on July 18 in Chichester, Goodwood, U.K.
Just to refresh your memory, take a gander at these early moments from Goldeneye with Bond, played by Irishman Pierce Brosnan, at the wheel of a silver-on-black DB5, racing down the Maritime Alps into Monaco with another MI6 agent by his side. Playing the terrified Caroline (who rates no last name in the credits), Serena Gordon insists that she has been assigned to evaluate Bond’s mental state. Just then we are joined by Famke Janssen playing the wonderfully named Xenia Onatopp, at the wheel of a Ferrari F355. The DB5 is all but irrelevant to the rest of the movie, but we do get this three-minute-or-so chase scene with nary a Bond weapon or gadget from the car, save for the chilling champagne he keeps in the console.
The consigning owner purchased the car in 2001 for some $200,000, which Bonhams points out was the highest price then paid for any Bond movie memorabilia. We’d argue that it was a wise investment as simply an automobile. Bonhams estimates that the DB5 will sell for somewhere between $1.6 million and $2.1 million. We’ve seen plenty of high six-figure and even some seven-figure DB5s at auction in recent years, the latter of the high-zoot Vantage edition. But factoring in solid prices for Sixties Aston Martins, along with the Bond connection, and these estimates seem reasonable.
Most recently, the Goldeneye DB5, wearing BMT 214A license plates and featuring chassis number DB5/1885/R, has been seen at various museums in the U.K., including the National Motor Museum and the London Film Museum, where it shared space with Goldfinger’s Rolls-Royce Phantom III, the submarine-capable Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me, and the Aston Martin DB10 from Spectre.
In 2010 in London, RM auctioned off the original Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball with Sean Connery behind the wheel as James Bond. That iconic car sold for the equivalent of $4.6 million at the time. The consignor then, an American, had bought the car directly from Aston Martin in 1969 for $12,000. The winning bidder was also an American.
Though the first iterations of the Bond DB5 in the Sixties featured a clandestine weapons platform and gadget-laden machine built at great expense by MI6’s quartermaster, Q, the Goldeneye DB5 is just a rather factory example of an Aston Martin, save for the champagne chiller on board.
Since Goldeneye, we’ve seen Bond in a handful of different cars, including a BMW Z8, which gets sawed in half in The World is Not Enough.
But the DB5 was back in Tomorrow Never Dies, and when Daniel Craig assumed the role in 2006’s Casino Royale, the DB5 again took center stage, though this time it is a left-hand-drive model that he wins from the bad guys in a poker game. More recently, the full-on, gadget-laden DB5 met its fate in Skyfall, when Javier Bardem’s maniacal Silva has the DB5 machine gunned and then blown up, much to the dismay of Craig’s Bond, who responds by blowing up his childhood home in the face of Silva. The VFX crew later revealed that a mix of modeling, CGI, and even the real-life destruction of a Porsche 928 all were used to create the images of the DB5 being blown apart and going up in flames. Rest assured that Bond will not be missing his DB5, as it is shown being rebuilt in the most recent Bond movie, Spectre.
In the real world, between 1963 and 1965 Aston Martin made some 1,059 DB5s of all variants, including coupes, higher-performance Vantage models, and Volantes, aka convertibles. There were also approximately 11 coupes converted to shooting-brake models. The DB5 was a top GT car in its day, with a 282hp, DOHC, 4.0-liter inline-six and a five-speed ZF manual transmission (or an optional three-speed BorgWarner automatic). Though it weighed around 3,300 pounds, the DB5 was quick, reaching 60 MPH in just about seven seconds on its way to a top speed in excess of 140 MPH.
The DB5 would be collectible without its James Bond connection, but the car almost certainly would not be as iconic were it not for the 56-year-old and still-going-strong movie franchise. Aston Martin and James Bond are so closely related that the DB10 seen in Spectre was created exclusively for the movie and never entered production. That’s how tight Bond and his DBs are.