HomeNews and EventsMovie-star race car Aston Martin in Bonhams auction

Movie-star race car Aston Martin in Bonhams auction


The legendary Stirling Moss rounds a curve in the Aston Martin DB3S | Bonhams archive
The legendary Stirling Moss rounds a curve in the Aston Martin DB3S | Bonhams archive

A 1954 Aston Martin DB3S works race car driven by one of the UK’s greatest racers, Stirling Moss, as well as one of its funniest comedians, Terry-Thomas, will be going to auction during Bonhams’ Aston Martin Works Sale on May 21.

The DB3S was raced in period by Moss as well as such legendary drivers as Peter Collins and Roy Salvadori, competing in world-famous events that included the Mille Miglia, the Spa Grand Prix and the Nürburgring 1,000kms. Following its racing career, the DB3S went on to movie fame, co-starring with Terry-Thomas in the 1960 comedy classic School for Scoundrels.

The Aston Martin is expected sell for as much as $10 million | Bonhams
The Aston Martin is expected to sell for as much as $10 million | Bonhams

Bonhams estimates the value of the roadster at £6 million to £7 million, or $8.56 million to $10 million at the current exchange rate.

The annual auction will be held at Aston Martin Works, the company’s ancestral home of 60 years in Newton Pagnell, England, with some 20 Astons crossing the block.

The history of the DB3S takes several twists and turns, according to Bonhams. The car started out as a fiberglass-bodied special built for the personal use of David Brown, Aston Martin’s brilliant industrialist owner who lent his initials to the post-war models.

But after Aston Martin’s factory race team lost three competition cars to crashes during the 1954 Le Mans 24-hour endurance race, Brown’s car was commandeered as a replacement for further racing events.

“After Brown handed it over to the Works team, it was given an aluminum body shell and upgraded to full Works specification,” according to a Bonhams news release. “It never returned to David Brown’s personal ownership, and instead went on to be raced by some of the most daring drivers of the time, in some of the motor sporting world’s most prestigious races.”

Comedian Terry-Thomas at the wheel of the 'Bellini' in the 1960 film 'School for Scoundrels' | Guardsman FIlms
Comedian Terry-Thomas at the wheel of the ‘Bellini’  | Guardsman FIlms

After retiring from racing, the DB3S appeared in School of Scoundrels alongside a caddish Terry-Thomas in a tale of one-upmanship for the affections of a lady. The comedy’s plot features a number of notable automobiles, including the “Swiftmobile,” actually a 1928 Bentley 4½-Litre Open Tourer in disguise; an ex-Works Austin-Healey 100-6; and the car driven by Terry-Thomas named the “Bellini,” portrayed by this Aston Martin DB3S.

“Few cars that have appeared in film can also boast an association with so many great names from the heyday of the British racing sports car, but this Aston Martin DB3S does just that,” said Tim Schofield, Bonhams UK Head Motoring, in the news release.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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