Which is the most famous car in the world? There is no easy answer to this question, because it depends very much on which target group in which country is interviewed. The fact is, however, that the silver Aston Martin DB5, driven by the movie secret agent James Bond in various blockbusters, should end up very high on the rankings. Finally, the movies played good worldwide rankings and even in the last two Bond films it had small guest appearances. Therefore, the Canadian auction house RM Sotheby’s may well claim that one of the most famous cars in the world are auctioned during the Monterey Car Week in August. It is one of only four vehicles equipped with various functional Q features for the films in the 1960s. There are things like folding machine guns, retractable rams, rotating license plates or a bullet trap in front of the rear window. Chassis number DB5/2008/R was one of two vehicles for the promotional tour before the movie ‘Thunderball’ was shown in US cinemas.
Overall, this now extensively restored car features 13 functional special features. In addition to the above mentioned, also tire slashers on the hubs, a smoke thrower and an oil thrower in the trunk, a radar tracking device on a display in the interior and the famous ejection seat with red button under the gear lever cover are installed in the car. Under the driver’s seat is a drawer with various weapons and in the driver’s door is a red phone to speak directly to the MI6 headquarters. While the first two vehicles were initially borrowed from Aston Martin to Eon Productions for the movie ‘Goldfinger’, the film production company afterwards bought another two DB5 in advance of the debut of ‘Thunderball’, equipped them with the Q features and showed them in a roadshow with lead actor Sean Connery in the US. These two cars included DB5/2008/R, the car which is now offered at RM Sotheby’s.
From the fifth movie of James Bond onwards, Eon used newer vehicles as major automotive characters. Therefore, the DB5s were sold in 1969. Both copies of the ‘Thunderball’ advertising campaign went to Lord Anthony Bamford. He later sold DB5/2008/R to B.H. Atchley, the owner of the Smokey Mountain Car Museum in Pigeon Force/Tennessee. There the car was the centerpiece of the exhibition for nearly 35 years and was started regularly to keep the engine in good running condition. In 2006 RM Auctions, the forerunner of today’s auction house RM Sotheby’s, offered the car for sale in unrestored condition.
This was followed by an extensive restoration by the experts from Roos Engineering in Switzerland. It covered not only the chassis, technology and bodywork of the DB5, but in particular the unique Q features. These are based on ideas of the special effects specialist John Stears. Thanks to the fully traceable history with only three private owners and the fully functional technology, the auction experts expect a hammer price between four and six million US dollars.
Images: RM Sotheby’s, Simon Clay