Unlike James Bond, who purportedly has a license to kill, the new owner of the “Thunderball” Aston Martin DB5 had better watch what button he presses while driving on pubic roads.
That’s because one winning bidder with deep pockets is now able to drive in an actual James Bond Aston Martin, with working nail spreaders, tire slashers, smoke screen and rotating license plates, according to CNN Business — and, it’s street legal.
That person just got the keys for the fully restored 1965 Aston Martin DB5 for US$6.4 million at a classic car auction in Monterey, California. The hefty price includes a buyer’s fee paid to the auction house, RM Auctions. The identity of the buyer was not revealed.
This car, which was once owned by the British JCB billionaire and Tory party donor Lord Bamford, was modified by Eon Productions with all the M16Q Branch gadgets to promote the movie Thunderball, but didn’t actually appear in the film.
It has an actual nail spreader and oil slick maker that drop real nails and oil behind the car. According to Road and Track, it’s had just three private owners, and underwent a no-expense-spared restoration in 2012.
There’s also a real smoking “smoke screen” and a “bulletproof” screen that comes up behind the back window. It’s even decorated with faux bullet damage.
There are also rotating license plates on the back and front of the car. They are controlled by a knob inside labeled “B-S-F” for British, Swiss and French plates.
The Browning .30 caliber machine guns that poke out from behind the front turn signals don’t fire real bullets, but they do make a very realistic “bang!” using oxygen and acetylene, the CNN report said.
It also has a telephone in the driver’s side door and a hidden compartment that can store weapons.
This latest sale is the most that’s ever been paid for one of the Bond movie cars even though this one never actually appeared onscreen. (It’s also the most ever paid at auction for an Aston Martin DB5 of any description, according to Hagerty, a company that tracks collector car values.)
According to The Guardian, the DB5 was one of the star lots at the Monterey Car Week, which is expected to generate sales in excess of US$380 million. More than 100 cars are expected to sell for more than US$1 million each.
“No other car in history has played a more important leading role on film and in pop culture,” says Barney Ruprecht, a car specialist with RM Sotheby’s, which specializes in high-end collectible vehicles. “We are beyond thrilled … and proud to have set a new record for the most valuable DB5 sold at auction.”
Thunderball was the Bond movie that came after Goldfinger, in which the DB5 had first caused such a sensation. Two of these fully drivable cars with most of the gadgets actually working were created to tour the United States to drum up attention and ticket sales for Thunderball, which starred Sean Connery.
The other promotional car is now at a museum in the Netherlands.
An actual film-used Bond DB5 sold for $4.6 million in 2010, but that one was used for driving shots in Goldfinger and only had the gadgets installed later on. In making the films, the car that was shown on the road didn’t actually have the clever gadgets. Another car — and even separate mocked up “parts” of cars — were used for close-up shots of the gadgets.
Connery, who drove a DB5 in two of the 007 films, said: “These DB5s are amazing. I remember the Furka Pass tyre shredding [in a car chase in Goldfinger], as well as the promotional events with these cars – they have become increasingly iconic since Goldfinger and Thunderball.”
According to a June, 2018, report in the Telegraph, another Aston Martin DB5 used in the Bond movies, was stolen from a Florida airport hangar and dragged into a waiting cargo plane in 1997.
Like something out of an Ian Fleming 007 novel, it is believed to be in the hands of a mysterious, wealthy owner in the Middle East.
That car — if it still exists — could be worth even more than this one, experts say.