Bond's Aston Martin on the block

Car for Sale: Low Mileage; Radar, Nail Gun, Smoke Screen Standard


For more than 40 years, Jerry Lee, a Philadelphia-area radio station owner, kept a used car in a downstairs room in his house. He never drove it.

The vehicle had only one previous owner. His name was Bond. James Bond.

Mr. Lee's car, now here in a Canadian auto-restoration shop, was one of the original Aston Martin Silver Birch DB5s used in the early 007 films, "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball." It included "some rather interesting modifications," as the character known as Q explained in Goldfinger: revolving license plates, tire slasher, twin machine guns, rear oil sprayer, smoke screen, nail disperser, radar, retractable bullet-proof screen and, most memorably, a passenger ejector seat.

Mr. Lee, who is 74, bought the car directly from Aston Martin's British factory in 1969 for $12,000. He's now hoping to sell it for millions at a classic-cars auction in London on Oct. 27 and use the proceeds to fund a foundation he runs that focuses on crime prevention.

The last 007 car to go on the market fetched $2.1 million in 2006 from a private buyer. But that Aston Martin never appeared in any Bond film; it was one of two replicas created for publicity purposes; the other is in a museum in Holland.

Mr. Lee's prized possession, which has original gadgets and appeared in the two movies, will be the first authentic Bond car from that time to go on sale in decades. The only other one used in those movies mysteriously vanished from an airport hangar in Boca Raton, Fla., in 1997.

Dave Worrall, British author of "The Most Famous Car in the World: The Complete History of the James Bond Aston Martin DB5," predicts the coming sale will be "a huge deal" because of the other car's disappearance. If "it's gone forever, then that one takes over as the last remaining original one in the film," he says.

Indeed, the history and mystery surrounding the other Aston Martin seems straight out of an Ian Fleming thriller.

Known as the "effects car," it was the first Bond car outfitted with an arsenal and the one Q demonstrated for Sean Connery in Goldfinger. Some experts consider it more original than Mr. Lee's because it was the first to have gadgets. In fact, the debate over which car is the most original has been raging among various Bond car owners for years. The dispute was chronicled in a 1981 article in this newspaper headlined, "Can Three Men All Be Owners of 007's Car?"

Comment: Interesting to anyone who has viewed "Goldfinger" or "Thunderball".


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