London – James Bond’s famous Aston Martin car, complete with gadgets including ejector seat and revolving number plates, was sold at auction yesterday for a lower-than-expected £2.6 million (R29 million).
Hopes were high that the 1964 silver Aston Martin DB5 would smash the $5 million barrier, but in the end the car fell short.
Veteran silver screen star Sean Connery got behind the wheel of the car when he played Bond in the films Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965).
A spokesperson for RM Auctions, which had dubbed the vehicle the most famous car in the world, said that the sale price was “still a lot of money and I don’t think anyone’s disappointed”.
The auctioneers did not release the identity of the buyer, who paid £2.6 million for the Aston Martin.
The Bond movie car is fitted with the full complement of operational “Q-Branch” gadgets.
The car is also equipped with machine guns, bullet-proof shield, tracking device, removable roof panel, oil slick sprayer and smoke screen, all controlled by “toggles and switches hidden in the centre arm rest”.
“The machine guns, as you can see, do come out of their intended place. As far as I know, they don’t shoot bullets, but then again, I haven’t tried,” said Don Rose, a car specialist for the auctioneers.
The gear stick top flips up to reveal the red ejector seat button. It also has a homing radar and a telephone mounted inside the driver’s door panel.
The car has been on tour over the past five months, with appearances in Britain, Germany, Monte Carlo, New York and Hong Kong.
Its US owner, Pennsylvania broadcaster Jerry Lee, bought it for $12 000 in 1969 and hoped the sale would raise money for his charitable foundation.
“He’s owned it now for 41 years, and it has spent most of that time in a special room built in his house,” Rose said.
“It’s been out of the public eye, with one or two exceptions, for over 30 years.”
On being at the wheel, Rose added: “I’m a DB5 owner myself, so I do know what such a car feels like to drive. However, this one, because of its unique provenance, makes one feel very special.
“On one hand, it was a thrill. On the other, it was always in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be the one to go down in history as the man who crashed the most famous car in the world,” he added.
Admission to the sale in Battersea, south London, required the purchase of an official auction catalogue available for £50.
Purchase of the car, lot 197 in the sale, also included a stay at the GoldenEye resort in Jamaica, the original Caribbean estate of Ian Fleming, the British author who created James Bond.
A custom-made suit woven with gold thread made by the tailors who dressed Connery as Bond was also thrown in.