'007 Aston Martin' auction more hype than lineage

The real story of Bond's DB5 is wrapped in genuine intrigue.

You know a car is famous when a mere clone of it can fetch $300,000.

Such may be the scenario when an Aston Martin DB5 that isn't even connected to James Bond's goes online for bidding on March 12.

Liquidation house Eddison describes the car as "identical" in its "metallic silver grey" (ahem, that should be called "Silver Birch") and leather upholstery, which unfortunately is cordovan rather than the correct black. So much for "identical."

But even if this car trades on the Bond legacy like a distant cousin claiming peerage, it will be easy to forgive the high bidder: real Bond DB5's are the most esteemed cars in pop culture--and worth a lot more than $300,000.

Four of them exist: two film cars from "Goldfinger" and two promotional cars commissioned for the release of "Thunderball." The most desirable of that group is clearly chassis DP/2161/1, the "action" car from "Goldfinger" that had all the gadgets: most notably the ejector seat; most presciently a navigation system.

The Commanders Club (in uncharacteristically casual attire) with chassis DP/2161/1 in Los Angeles in 1992.
The Commanders Club (in uncharacteristically causal attire) with chassis DP/2161/1 in Los Angeles in 1992. Commanders Club

The Commanders Club, of which I am a founder, had the pleasure of inspecting DP/2161/1 in 1992 when it belonged to owner Anthony Pugliese who acquired it via auction at Sotheby's for $275,000 in 1986. We found the magic was in its honest patina as a used but not abused working film car with a direct link to Bondmania. Many of the gadgets like bumper rams, machine guns, and homing screen worked in a rudimentary fashion, but the tire shredders that extended from the wheel hubs were nonfunctional film illusions.

In true espionage fashion DP/2161/1 has been missing since 1997 when it was stolen from a secure hangar in Boca Raton, Florida, where Pugliese stored it when it wasn't touring. The full story is fascinating. Many call the car priceless but it's probably worth $4 to $6 million today if still in good condition, wherever it is.

Of the other three Bond DB5's, two (DB5/2008/R and DB5/1486/R) are believed to be in private collections and one (DB5/2017/R) is at the Louwman Collection at the Dutch National Automobile Museum. They are celebrated cars, but can't approach the value of DP/2161/1.

When it comes to authenticity, however, no DB5 can really claim highest rank in the Bond community: in the novels Bond, like Ian Fleming himself, was a Bentley man.

About the author

Brian Cooley joined CNET in 1995 and always comes at technology from the real consumer's point of view. He brings his high energy, often skeptical style to all avenues of CNET coverage, with an emphasis on car tech. You'll also find him frequently on television, radio and the TV screens at Costco!

 

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