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Understanding the Bond car market

16-Jun-2010 • Collecting

Ever since 1962 when James Bond made his debut on the big screen in “Dr. No,” the public has had more than a passing interest in things Bond-related: Bond girls, Bond villains and certainly Bond cars, says the NY Times.

It bears clarification then as to what exactly qualifies as “a Bond car.” Simply put, the car has to have been officially issued to Bond by Q-Branch, the spy’s official armorer.

Sean Connery most famously drove a silver Aston Martin DB5 in “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball,” complete with ejector seat, tire slashers and machine guns. George Lazenby used an Aston Martin DBS in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” In “The Spy Who Loved Me,” Roger Moore drove what was arguably the second most famous Bond car, a white Lotus Esprit that doubled as a submarine. He later used a Lotus Esprit Turbo in “For Your Eyes Only.”

Mr. Moore’s successor, the vastly underrated Timothy Dalton, renewed the Bond/Aston connection with a V8 Vantage coupe in “The Living Daylights.” Uncharacteristically, the Pierce Brosnan era was marked with a switch to BMWs, including a turn in “Goldeneye” in a turquoise Z3 roadster that would have been a more appropriate ride for Miss Moneypenny.

Daniel Craig marked a rebooting of the Bond franchise with “Casino Royale” so it was natural for Q-Branch to go back to Aston Martin, although aside from a glovebox-mounted defibrillator, they have been gadget-free.

Although some may argue to the contrary, borrowed cars like the Sunbeam Alpine in “Dr. No,” the red Mustang Mach One in “Diamonds Are Forever” and the Alfa Romeo GTV6 in “Octopussy” will never be accepted into the pantheon of Bond cars.

Although it is rare for a car with genuine Bond provenance to come on the market, when they do, collectors respond in a fashion the makes the auction companies smile. In 2006, RM Auctions of Ontario auctioned an Aston Martin DB5 that served as a publicity car for several Bond films. It brought over $2 million. The car that RM is selling this October in London was a genuine on-camera car in “Goldfinger” and has all of the gadgets. As such, it is expected to sell for $5 million or more (an ordinary DB5 might cost about $350,000).

The white Lotus Esprit was sold at an auction in London in 2008 for £111,500 ($167,000), fetching “only” about 10 times what a non-Bond Esprit would sell for.

Why the disparity? Several reasons are likely. Sean Connery was the first Bond and the one many consider to be the best. “Goldfinger” is among the best-loved Bond movies, and the car enjoyed a fair amount of on-screen time. The Lotus, on the other hand, appeared in the Roger Moore film “The Spy Who Loved Me,” not a bad Bond film by any means (it marked the debut of Richard Kiel as the steel-dentured Jaws), but certainly no “Goldfinger.” If Timothy Dalton’s V8 Vantage ever shows up at public auction, it could be expected to bring near what the Esprit brought even though it’s a more valuable car.

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