Having been off the grid for the past 20 years following an audacious robbery, James Bond’s vintage Aston Martin has been tracked down, it seems.
The DB5 appeared in 1964’s Goldfinger with Sean Connery behind the wheel. It became an instant classic alongside the spy’s drink and weapon of choice, the Martini and the Walther PPK.
According to a story published in The Telegraph this month, a company called ARI (Art Recovery International) has gotten the nod that Connery’s cruiser may be holed up in the Middle East.
If this were an Ian Fleming plot, then a spy might be dispatched to check things out. As it stands, verifying the identity of the car is a far simpler matter.
ARI’s chief executive, Christopher Marinello, commented: “As there are many Aston Martins, it is very important that we get a shot of the chassis number, dp/216/1… This is what we are looking for, as it is very specific to the vehicle… it is crucial we retain a close-up of the chassis number.”
It isn’t the most glamorous of responses, but surely a practical one. After all, ARI wouldn’t want to travel out there to find it was a lookalike. And in fairness, the Goldfinger generation did not have the luxury of camera phones and email to speed up the process.
Should this prove to be the iconic vehicle, then it’s had quite the journey over the years. Having been purchased in 1986, the DB5 wound up being stolen from its home in Boca Raton, Florida, 11 years later. Its owner might have expected a little trouble owning 007’s car, but maybe not like this.
The robbers had a tough job removing it from its airport hangar location. Far from the elegant atmosphere of Bond’s adventures, the group pulled the car along the ground by the axles in an undignified fashion.
Modifications made to the DB5 in the form of Q’s gadgets, such as machine guns, meant it was too weighty to merely spirit away. Bond has a license to kill, but these thieves needed a license to drag.
Still, the ham-fisted effort was worth the sweat. The car is now estimated to be worth between 7 million and 10 million pounds. Seeing as the victim paid $250,000 for it, they must be keener than ever to see their property returned.
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Meanwhile, Bond’s love affair with the Aston Martin continued unabated. Connery fired up its engine in the following entry, Thunderball. George Lazenby only had one turn in the driver’s seat for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, as did Timothy Dalton for The Living Daylights.
According to the website of the 007 Museum, every movie from the Pierce Brosnan era onward features an Aston Martin. In the same year the DB5 was taken from Boca Raton, Brosnan drove himself to distraction in the manufacturer’s latest model, in Tomorrow Never Dies.
There was a reunion of sorts between Bond and his stolen ride in 2012, when Daniel Craig shared the screen with a DB5 for Skyfall. As director Sam Mendes remarked in a quote in Forbes, “The DB5 was part of my boyhood, my generation’s boyhood… I felt like it was a thematic thing–it is about the old and the new.”
It certainly gave long-standing fans of the franchise a nostalgic treat, albeit one with a bitter aftertaste, given the fate of the ‘64 original. Now this decades-old wrong may finally be righted, though this is one mission that should be approached with a hint of caution.
Steve Palace is a writer, journalist and comedian from the UK. Sites he contributes to include The Vintage News, Art Knews Magazine and The Hollywood News. His short fiction has been published as part of the Iris Wildthyme range from Obverse Books.