my dream car #3 – James Bond 007 Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Thunderball

James Bond 007 Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Thunderball – James Bond 007 Part 1: Aston Martin DB5

Released on 22nd December 1964, Goldfinger was to be the third movie in the James Bond franchise. It centred around gold-smuggler Auric Goldfinger (played by Gert Frobe) who sought to massively increase the value of his own gold bullion stockpile by setting off a nuclear device supplied by the Red Chinese inside Fort Knox, thereby making the American’s $15 billion gold supply radioactive for more than 50 years. Sean Connery would once again star as Bond but on this occasion, the Scot was nearly outshone by a co-star that captured the imagination of filmgoers like never before – his silver birch Aston Martin DB5 equipped with a host of Q-Branch extras.
Launched in October 1963 at the Earls Court Motor Show in London, the now legendary DB5 was enhanced over its predecessor (the appropriately titled DB4) by way of a larger 282bhp four-litre dual overhead camshaft engine with triple SU carburettors as standard. Priced on a par with a Bentley S3 and more than double that of the 150mph E-Type Jaguar, the DB5 with its five-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel independent suspension and disc brakes all round was a machine reserved for the motoring elite. This wasn’t lost on producers Henry Saltzman and Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli who thought a suitably modified DB5 would make the perfect machine for Bond in their forthcoming release. They asked Aston Martin owner David Brown if he would donate a DB5 for filming, but this request was initially turned down. However, a deal was later struck that saw Aston loan two cars to the producers, chassis DP/2161/1 and DB5/1486/R. 2161 had been a fifth series DB4 that eventually became the DB5 test and development mule. Originally painted red, it was the very same promotional car featured in period literature sporting the now famous BMT 216A registration plate. 1486 meanwhile was a standard production variant. Once Saltzman and Broccoli had their cars, they turned to John Stears and his special effects team at Pinewood Studios to re-engineer 2161 so it could accommodate a host of hidden gadgets. Concealed behind the front indicators and powered by a trunk mounted propane and oxygen mix were a pair of Browning .30 calibre machine guns, a retractable bullet-proof screen being positioned behind the rear window. Tyre slashing wheel spinners were fitted along with hydraulically operated bumper over-riders that could extend front and back. The nearside rear light cluster housed an oil spraying device whilst the offside unit featured a calthrops nail ejection unit.
Other modifications included smoke screen-emitting exhaust pipes, a radar scanner in the wing mirror and revolving license plates with British (BMT 216A), French (4711-EA-62) and Swiss (LU 6789) numbers. Inside was perhaps the most spectacular feature, a Martin-Baker ejector seat from a fighter jet. It was operated by a concealed button underneath the gear lever, the roof panel being jettisoned just before firing. Other cockpit upgrades included an illuminated radar tracking display screen, a mobile phone in the drivers side armrest, a centre console-mounted weapons panel switchboard and an armaments draw under front driver seat complete with gun and hand grenades.
DB5/1486/R was initially kept in standard form, this car being used for the high speed driving scenes. After filming was complete, it too was suitably accessorised by Aston Martin on its return to the factory so as to take advantage of the massive media interest. The DB5 with all its Q Branch extras proved extremely useful for 007 during the Goldfinger mission. It first appeared during an alpine chase in which Bond used the tyre slashers to stop the Ford Mustang of Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet). Having tailed Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce Phantom III all the way to Switzerland by way of the DB5’s radar tracking device, the Aston was later used in a high speed night-time pursuit where Bond made use of the oil slick and smoke screen facilities to run the pursuing cars of Goldfinger’s henchman off the road. When it emerged Bond had reached a dead end, he also activated the retractable bullet-proof shield to block the enemy gun fire. Having failed to evade capture, Bond was then allowed to drive the DB5 back to Goldfinger’s nearby HQ with an armed guard in the passenger seat – cue the ejector seat. Another chase ensued around the grounds of Goldinger’s compound that saw Bond stick the DB5 into a wall after being dazzled by his own headlights reflecting back from a mirror. Like the previous two 007 movies, Goldfinger was a massive commercial success, the production budget of $2.5m translating into worldwide box office yields of $124.9 million. That wasn’t quite the end of the story for the DB5 though, the Aston going onto star briefly in the subsequent 007 movie Thunderball released in 1965. Two more 007-equipped DB5’s were ordered by the Swiss holding company of Eon Productions (Danjaq S.A.) at a reputed cost of $62,500 each (more than five times the list price of a standard DB5).
Bearing chassis numbers DB5/2008/R and 2017/R, they were built up by the factory for promotional use and equipped with near identical gadgetry to the earlier effects car. A rear water cannon was added for this, the fourth movie in the 007 franchise, Bond driving the DB5 early on in the film to escape after killing Jacques Boitier. Having used a jet pack to leave the building, Bond landed by the waiting DB5 before raising the bullet proof shield to protect himself from the fast approaching gunmen that he drenched with the newly installed water cannons. The chequered histories of the four Goldfinger/Thunderball Aston Martin DB5’s are recorded in the table below:
Chassis History

Goldfinger screen car.
Loaned to Eon Productions (Danjaq S.A.).
Returned to Aston Martin after Goldfinger and Thunderball.
1968 Aston Martin stripped out all the 007 equipment.
1968 sold to Gavin Keyzar, UK, displaying 50,000 miles on the odometer.
1969 Keyzar had the 007 equipment re-installed.
1971 sold to Richard Loose, Utah.
1980 appeared in The Cannonball Run.
1986 sold by Sotheby’s in New York for $275,000 to Anthony Pugliese, Boca Raton, Florida.
1997 stolen from a hangar at Boca Raton Airport sometime between 4pm Wednesday June 18th and 7am Thursday 19th. An insurance settlement in excess of $4m was reached.

DB5/1486/R Goldfinger screen car.
Loaned to Eon Productions (Danjaq S.A.).
tandard DB5 to be used in high speed driving scenes.
Returned to Aston Martin.
Later fitted with full 007 equipment by Aston Martin for publicity use.
1968 Aston Martin stripped out all the 007 equipment.
1968 sold to Jerry Lee, USA.
Subsequently displayed several times until it was damaged at a show in Memphis, Tennessee. Lee was furious and vowed it would never be displayed again.
1977 displayed on the Aston Martin stand at the New York Motor Show.
1981 displayed again.
Still owned by Lee.
DB5/2008/R Thunderball promotional car.
Dispatched to the USA for promotional use.
1969 sold as a pair by Danjaq S.A. along with 2017/R to Sir Anthony Bamford, Ashburne, Derbyshire, UK for £1500.
Road registered in the UK.
1970 sold for £5000 to Bruce Atchley, owner of the Smoky Mountain Car Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA.
2006 sold by RM Auctions at Arizona Biltmore for $2.09m.

Thunderball promotional car.
Dispatched to the USA for promotional use.
1969 sold as a pair by Danjaq S.A. along with 2008/R to Sir Anthony Bamford, Ashburne, Derbyshire, UK for £1500.
1969 Bamford traded 2017/R for Ferrari 250 GTO chassis 4399 GT with his friend, Sandy Luscombe-Whyte.
1970 sold for $21,600 to Frank Baker, Vancouver, Canada.
Subsequently displayed outside Baker’s Attic Restaurant in West Vancouver.
1983 sold to Alf Spence.
Sold it to a consortium headed by Ernest Hartz, San Francisco.
Sold for $80,000 to Dick Barbour.
Sold one year later to Robert Pass of Pass Transportation.
Sold five months later to Robert Littman. Littman discovered it was not the actual screen car used in Goldfinger or Thunderball and the car ended up in a Jaguar dealership in New Jersey.
1989 the dealership went into receivership and the car disappeared for a short while before surfacing in the Louwman Collection (Dutch National Automobile Museum), Raamadonksveer, Holland.

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2 Responses to “my dream car #3 – James Bond 007 Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Thunderball”

  1. Good content, thank you.

  2. Hi

    Thanks for reading the blog, glad you like the article, please keep checking back !

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