The British sporting brand Aston Martin is forever linked with James Bond, thanks to author Ian Fleming and the spy-gadget laden DB5 that his fictional spy first drove in the novel and in the 1964 film Goldfinger.
Another earlier Aston Martin, a 1954 Aston Martin DB 2/4, is believed to have been the inspiration for Fleming to equip Bond with his iconic DB5 coupe. The connection is not absolutely ironclad, but the evidence points to this being the very Aston that convinced the author and auto enthusiast to switch his adventurous spy to an Aston Martin from the Bentley that he drove in earlier novels.
The DB 2/4 was unveiled by the British auction house Coys on Tuesday at the Old Admiralty Building in London, where the late Fleming had his office. The restored Aston Martin with the James Bond ambiance will be auctioned by Coys during its Blenheim Palace sale on July 12.
A set of unique special modifications came to light, along with the car’s connections to the British Intelligence Service and the creator of Bond himself, Ian Fleming.”[/pullquote]
The DB 2/4 Mk I Vantage, bearing the registration JBW 974, was being restored by a father-and-son team when “a set of unique special modifications came to light, along with the car’s connections to the British Intelligence Service and the creator of Bond himself, Ian Fleming,” according to Coys.
The modification appear to be akin to those on Bond’s make-believe DB5 that was outfitted for outrunning and outgunning enemy agents. Among the unique additions that the restorers discovered on the DB 2/4 are “reinforced steel bumpers, concealed lockers, a heavy-duty anti-interference ignition system, driver’s seat connections for two-way radio and/or a homing device, and a Halda Speed Pilot device, which accurately computes time and distance in relation to a pre-selected average speed.”
Chris Routledge, managing partner of the auction house, said further research determined that Fleming knew this car, whose owner was directly connected with Great Britain’s military and intelligence networks.
“The story around this car and its discovery is phenomenal,” said Chris Routledge, managing partner of the auction house. “It was supplied new on 4th July 1955 to the Honourable Squadron Leader Phillip Ingram Cunliffe-Lister DSO, whose father was Lord Swinton, a close confidant of Winston Churchill and head of MI5 and the Security Executive during WWII.
“Moreover, the vehicle was regularly at Ian Fleming’s direct next-door neighbor in Kent, and indeed it was the next-door neighbor’s house which was also used as inspiration in the Bond novels, this time as Sir Hugo Drax’s residence in the novel Moonraker.”
Cars with James Bond movie provenance have scored big results at collector car auctions. In 2010, a DB5 that appeared in Goldfinger and Thunderball sold for a shattering $4.6 million, including buyer fee.
That Aston was fully equipped for movie work, including such faux gadgets as machine guns in the front bumper, extendable center wheel spinners for slashing pursuing vehicles, self-changing license plates, bulletproof shield, oil-slick sprayer, nail spreader, smoke screen and an explosive passenger seat that could launch a bad guy through the sunroof.
Naturally, anything connected with James Bond requires some over-the-top hyperbole, which was provided by Routledge in the news release about the unveiling of the DB 2/4.
“This could be one of the most important discoveries of all time,” he said, “confirming the link between the undoubtedly most famous spy in history and possibly the world’s most iconic sports car marque.”