GoldenEye, released in 1995 as the 17th film in the James Bond franchise, marked the return of the superspy’s beloved Aston Martin DB5 after a 30-year absence. Though no longer gadgetry-bedecked like the DB5s featured in Goldfinger and Thunderball, the GoldenEye DB5 still performed admirably against a younger opponent, scoring another victory for old age and treachery. Last Friday, the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 used in the filming of GoldenEye sold at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction, with New York City spy museum SPYSCAPE paying an estimate-besting 1.96 million British pounds ($2.6 million) for its soon-to-be-featured exhibit.
James Bond wasn’t supposed to drive an Aston Martin DB5, since Ian Fleming’s version of Goldfinger put him behind the wheel of the earlier DB Mark III (which Fleming incorrectly called the “DB III”). By the time production of Goldfinger began in early 1964, the Mark III was five years out of production, and the staid British automaker was initially reluctant to provide its latest model, the DB5, for filming.
Ultimately, a DB5 and a near-identical DB4 Vantage (which had served as a development prototype for the DB5) were loaned to Eon Productions for the filming of Goldfinger. Tied to the movie’s release, toymaker Corgi produced a die-cast scale replica, complete with semi-functional weaponry, which became the best-selling toy of 1964. The follow-up Bond movie, 1965’s Thunderball, proved an even bigger cinematic success, and further solidified the star power of the DB5, along with its association to James Bond.
Despite the Aston Martin’s ties to the franchise, three decades would pass before the DB5 again appeared as Bond’s ride of choice. It’s not clear if the DB5 seen in the opening chase sequence of GoldenEye is a “company car” or Bond’s personal transportation, but if the car sports an array of weapons and defenses, Bond (played for the first time by Pierce Brosnan) never brings this to the audience’s attention. Before filming of GoldenEye began, Eon Productions enlisted the help of Aston Martin Lagonda, who assisted in tracking down two DB5 road cars (each modified for the chase scene and used for the driving sequences) and a third loaner car, unmodified and used for close-ups.
Following the end of production, chassis DB5/1885/R – the car sold at Goodwood last Friday – was restored to original condition and used to promote the movie, and later, to promote Aston Martin’s new-ish DB7 (a model that, oddly enough, James Bond never drove). It appeared with the DB7 at the North American International Auto Show and again at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where it was driven onto the stage by Sir Stirling Moss.
In 1996, 1885/R sold to Peter Nelson, owner of Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Keswick, Cumbria, England, and Nelson owned the car for the next five years. In 2001, it sold at auction for roughly $200,000, making it the most expensive piece of Bond memorabilia sold at the time. The DB5 has since appeared at several James Bond exhibits, including one at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, as well as the “Bond in Motion” exhibit at the London Film Museum, and though it’s been driven only on occasion, it’s reportedly been serviced with regularity.
The pre-auction estimate for the DB5 was £1.2 million – £1.5 million ($1.6 million – $2.0 million), and SPYSCAPE’s winning bid for the car came in at £1.75 million ($2.32 million), or £1.96 million ($2.6 million) with fees. SPYSCAPE, which opened in early 2018, bills itself as “an education and entertainment company focused on the world of espionage and secret intelligence,” and is already actively promoting the Bond DB5 on its website, giving visitors a chance to win a drive in the car.
This 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato sold for £10.1 million ($13.26 million), making it the most expensive British car ever sold at a European auction.
Other lots in the Goodwood Festival of Speed top-10 included a 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato Grand Touring two-seat coupe, which sold for a fee-inclusive £10.1 million ($13.26 million), becoming the most expensive British car ever sold at a European auction; a 1924-34 Alfa Romeo Tipo B Grand Prix monoposto, which sold for £4.59 million ($6.04 million); a 1957 BMW 507 roadster, owned by John Surtees, which sold for £3.81 million ($5.01 million) to become the most expensive BMW ever sold at auction; a 2012 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport coupe, which sold for £2.05 million ($2.69 million); a 1931 Bentley 4 ½-liter Supercharged Tourer, which sold for £2.02 million ($2.65 million); a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT coupe, which sold for £583,900 ($768,279); a 1967 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage Volante, which sold for £450,000 ($592,097); a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 4.3-liter sports saloon, which sold for £449,500 ($591,439); and the first-built 1954 AC Ace roadster, which sold for £404,700 ($532,492).
1954 AC Ace Roadster, the first example built by AC.
For complete results from the Goodwood Festival of Speed sale, visit Bonhams.com.