Arguably the most famous car in the world has sold to an American car enthusiast for £2.6 million ($4.1 million) after being put on the market for the first time ever.
The actual Aston Martin DB5 - as driven by Sean Connery in the James Bond movies Goldfinger and Thunderball - was expected to raise in excess of $5 million during the auction Wednesday night in London.
The successful bidder and American business man, Harry Yeaggy, is only the second person to own the iconic car after it left the factory.
“This is a car that I’ve always wanted, after all it is the most famous car in the world,” Yeaggy said in a statement. “My plan is to display it in my private car museum in Ohio just as it is.”
The car comes complete with authentic Bond gadgets that actually work, including a bullet-proof shield, revolving number plates, tracking device, oil slick sprayer, nail spreader and smoke screen.
They’re all controlled from specially designed toggles and switches hidden in the center arm-rest, just like in the film.
It even has an ejector seat and machine guns – but these, predictably, don't work.
The car was originally bought from the factory, after it returned from an extensive promotional tour, by American radio broadcaster Jerry Lee.
Lee convinced the factory to sell the pristine DB5 to him for $12,000 in 1969. He kept it over the next 40 years on display at his home and it has since been carefully returned to running condition.
Lee plans to use the proceeds to further his charitable work at The Jerry Lee Foundation, an initiative dedicated to solving social problems associated with poverty, with an emphasis on crime prevention.
“The James Bond car has brought me much enjoyment for some 40 years,” Lee said in a press statement. “Even as I sell it and use the proceeds to fund the Jerry Lee Foundation, the car will continue to give me great pleasure as it furthers the mission of the Foundation to do good around the world.”
Lee is not the only person to have first-hand experience of the unique automobile. One lucky man, Mike Ashley, had the job of driving it around the world from premiere to premiere during the film promotional tour and passed on a message to its new owner.
“If they knew the joy I had when I drove it round the world. It is the most magnificent crumpet wagon in the world,” Ashley told CNBC.com.
Ashley confirmed that that car was great to drive and that all the special gadgets worked perfectly.
“The smoke screen was probably the most magnificent thing because you could actually put the smoke canister in the exhaust and trigger it off, like we did down the main street in Zurich,” he said.
Real Boys' Toys
But can the ultimate Bond car stack up as an investment? Peter Wallman, spokesperson for RM Auctions, thinks it can.
“It’s a unique, one-off opportunity and we would consider this being more than just a car; it’s a trophy and it’s a cultural icon,” Wallman told CNBC.com.
With interest in the James Bond franchise likely to carry on well into the future, the car will remain important and is likely to retain its value, he said.
“If you compare this to something like a great work of art… it’s not actually that expensive in real terms,” he added.
For investors inspired by the DB5 auction, the classic car market in general makes a good alternative to standard assets such as stocks and property, Richard Hudson-Evans, auctions analyst at Classiccarsforsale.co.uk, told CNBC.com.
“First and foremost, unlike other assets, they’re fun. A share certificate is not a lot of fun in a desk drawer or merely as a figure on a computer screen. These are real, these are big boys’ toys you can touch, feel and enjoy,” Hudson-Evans said.
And they can be transported across borders to where there is strong demand or where the currency is favorable, he pointed out.
The classic car market has performed well during the recession and since then, according to Wallman.
It saw a severe decline after the Dotcom bubble burst, but it was an immature market then, while the latest recession hasn’t caused the same turmoil as many investors saw classic cars as a better alternative to keeping cash in the bank, he explained.
“The recession came along and almost saved us, it helped prices stabilize. People kept their money in their cars, they didn’t run away, they were collectors,” Wallman said. “What else can you buy, have this fun with and still make a profit at the end of it?"