V8 Vantage Auction
19th July 2023
A screen used Aston Martin from The Living Daylights is for sale
By MI6 Staff
'The Living Daylights' marked Aston Martin’s return to prominence as the vehicular weapon of choice for Her Majesty’s Secret Service after a long hiatus, an arrangement negotiated by the marque’s then-chairman Victor Gauntlett. Two Aston Martin models ultimately appeared on screen. The first was a V8 Volante convertible—Gauntlett’s personal automobile—that was, cheekily, shown being “winterized” by Q Branch via the addition of a hardtop after a brief scene in the film.
After being “winterized” Bond is seen from then on driving a V8 Saloon through the streets of Eastern Europe and charging across a frozen lake in a memorable mountain chase scene. Set in the Soviet Union but filmed in Austria, the mountain chase scene is one of the more memorable from the film and is an obvious homage to the chase in Goldfinger, but with updated gadgetry. After a tank blasts off one of the front tires, Bond hits a switch which deploys skis from the sides of the car, allowing him to continue speeding along the frozen lake. With increased speed needed for an approaching jump, Bond hits another button, which activates a rear rocket booster facilitating his escape.
The car in the film was a brand-new, gadget-laden, Cumberland Grey V8 Saloon sunroof coupe…or so it appeared to filmgoers. In reality, it took a healthy dash of movie magic to put Bond behind the wheel. Due to an 18-month-long waiting list, Aston Martin could not supply EON Productions with new cars for filming, so the production team sourced a handful of Aston Martin V8s on the second-hand market and modified them for filming. Original configuration and condition did not matter, so long as they could be made to look like a new V8 Saloon on screen. Along with the cars used for filming, several prop replicas—little more than fiberglass body shells made by the studio—were also created (and destroyed) during production.
As usual with film cars, creative editing brought everything to life and yielded a convincing final result. Closeup shots of various gadgets functioning such as the pop-out skis were not practical effects built into drivable cars. Instead, static gadgets were fitted to the V8s, with shots of the mechanisms in action largely taking place on fiberglass mock-ups. With clever editing, these shots were seamlessly spliced into driving scenes.
Four real Aston Martins and seven prop fiberglass shells are understood to have been used in the filming of The Living Daylights. The car presently offered, internally known at EON Productions as Car Number 10, is one of those four road cars.
The first owner of V8/10596/RCA never could have imagined that his car would later be driven by James Bond on the big screen. Completed by Aston Martin on 27 October 1973, according to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate on file, this car was dispatched to dealer Plough Motors, Ltd. on 31 August the following year. A right-hand drive UK-market car, it was finished in Tudor Green metallic and equipped with fuel injection and an automatic gearbox.
Once acquired by EON Productions in 1986, it was modified to appear as the newer model with updated rear bodywork in fiberglass, a carburetor-specification hood, updated wheels, and a new color combination. For continuity reasons, a simulated sunroof was added to the roof to match the other cars. The updated tail portion of the car included a simulated rocket booster, and removable skis were attached to the sills of the car. A roll cage was installed to ensure the safety of the crew during filming, along with thick steel skid plates underneath.
Destined to be driven downhill and into snowbank at the conclusion of the film’s thrilling chase scene, the engine and transmission were removed to lighten the car for the stunt. A faded shipping label still present on one of the car’s windows further confirmed that it was EON Productions’ Car Number 10.
When filming concluded, the car remained in movie used condition and was retained by EON Productions until 1995. As documented by a letter from October 1995 on file, it was sold along with the DB5 from Goldeneye to well-known James Bond collector Peter Nelson of Keswick, England. Nelson had a special relationship with EON Productions, regularly purchasing vehicles and memorabilia from the company once filming of each Bond movie was complete to display in his Cars of the Stars Motor Museum. Of the four movie-used V8 Saloons from The Living Daylights, EON Productions retained ownership of one and sold the other three to Nelson.
After nine years as part of his collection, Peter Nelson sold this Aston Martin V8 to an American enthusiast who kept it on static display in his collection until 2021. Nelson sold his entire collection a few years later to another American enthusiast, who still owns the other two Aston Martins from The Living Daylights; they remain in his museum collection.
The current owner of V8/10596/RCA wished to finally bring the car back to the road. A carbureted V540 V-8 (with Vantage-specification upgrades), along with a proper ZF five-speed manual, were sourced and finally reinstalled 35 years after the original items had been removed for the movie stunt. Underside corrosion was repaired as necessary, the front was repainted, and all mechanical systems serviced and overhauled. A removable center console with dummy switches for the gadgets and a self-destruct button was made by the former owner for display use, and this remains with the car. During the extensive recommissioning, the dummy rear rocket booster was also modified to shoot real flames so the next owner can properly live the James Bond experience. With easily installable skis from the Q Branch and the aforementioned rocket booster, The Living Daylights V8 is sure to be a showstopper anywhere it is seen.
The auction will be held on at the RM Sotheby's event in Monterey from 17th-19th August 2023. The Aston Martin is expected to sell for $1.4m to $1.8m.