The buyer paid a premium for originality and left-hand drive, and the American collector no doubt carefully picked his momentChassis number: DB51847L Engine number: 4001847 Aston Martin developed and released the all-new DB4 in 1958 alongside the final DB2-derived DB Mark III. The following year, the company received a Royal Warrant of Appointment from HRH Prince Philip and took overall victory at Le Mans and the World Sports Car Constructor’s Championship the year after. A highly advanced design, the DB4 heralded the arrival of the brilliant new Tadek Marek-designed, all-aluminum 3.7-liter engine and a new platform-frame chassis, clothed in beautifully hand-formed aluminum coachwork designed by Touring of Milan and constructed using their patented Superleggera (super light) process. A huge advance, the DB4 evolved through five sub-variants and profoundly influenced the Aston Martin line through 1969, while nonetheless retaining the distinctive flavor of its predecessors. The DB5 arrived in the autumn of 1963 as an advanced development of the Series V DB4, and it was distinguished primarily by its larger, more powerful 4-liter engine, along with triple SU carburetors. After approximately the first 50 cars, the DB5 was upgraded with the sturdy, all-synchromesh ZF 5-speed gearbox as standard equipment in place of the David Brown-produced 4-speed. The DB5 differed from the DB4 in many respects, with 170 upgrades between the models. The Dunlop disc brakes were replaced with Girling units, and the suspension was significantly redeveloped with the front now adjustable for camber and the addition of Armstrong Selectaride dampers in the rear, along with a dash-mounted control to adjust stiffness to the driver’s taste. Most visually apparent, the trademark covered headlights, first seen on the DB4GT, became a DB5 hallmark. The dash and gauges were modified to include an oil temperature gauge, á la the DB4GT. Although it was produced for slightly more than two years, the DB5 achieved lasting fame as the most famous of all Aston Martins and arguably the most famous car of all time. The original left-hand-drive, U.S.-delivery example offered here was completed on November 23, 1964, and was finished in Dubonnet with black upholstery. Non-standard equipment included Normalair air conditioning, chrome road wheels, an engine breather, power-operated radio antenna and a pair of detachable headrests. Just three days later, DB51847L was bound for the U.S. and its original owner, Leslie Pouch of Staten Island, NY, who eventually took delivery on February 23, 1965. Offered from a Swiss collection, it has been kept in climate-controlled display alongside original examples of the DB4GT and DB4GT Zagato, and has required little more than routine maintenance.
|Vehicle:||1965 Aston Martin DB5 coupe|
This car, Lot 250, sold for $604,072, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s London auction on October 26, 2011.
This car, a rare original left-hand-drive example with factory air conditioning, was offered from a Swiss collection — complete with a copy of the original build sheet — plus a British Motor Heritage certificate that essentially confirms it is what it says it is. It was acquired in the past decade from a Swiss Aston Martin specialist, having previously belonged to a partner at Banque Syz, but there’s not much history before that.
As the vendor said before the sale: “Unmistakable! It’s James Bond’s car in ‘Goldfinger.’” The DB5 is so much part of Agent 007’s panoply that it even made a guest appearance in 2006 in a later Bond film, “Casino Royale.”
The DB5 is the Aston Martin line’s most sophisticated achievement. The next model, the DB6, was rather heavier, larger and more comfortable. It also capitalized on the market appeal generated by the James Bond saga. So, the car sold very well indeed. The DB6 was built in larger numbers than the DB5, but, lighter and rarer, the DB5 is worth twice the price of a DB6 today. Their technology is the same, but the difference between the two Aston Martins is the same as that between an evening gown and a daywear dress.
$600k doesn’t buy perfection in this market
Our example has been refinished in the Silver Birch of the Bond car, although it started life in Dubonnet Rosso, and it was always left-hand drive. As presented under the lights at Battersea Evolution, the condition was 2-, maybe 2 with the wind behind it.
At this money you expect perfection, and north of $600k I reckon we’re entitled to nitpick a little. The body is straight, although the right door/sill profile is a bit uneven. The paint is good, although a bit cloudy on the hood and a little rough in the headlight scoops. The chrome to the bumpers is well polished, the grille a little wavy, and what’s probably the original leather is nicely cracked and creased — perfectly in keeping with the age of the car. The motor is clean, dry and tidy, with all correct factory finishes, and it’s solid underneath, sitting pleasingly right on tall crossplies.
So what we have here is a straight and honest coupe with an older repaint that’s a little way off concours, or at least some of the concours-class restorations that have recently been through auction, such as the hardly driven ex-pop star car that sold at Bonhams Goodwood Revival sale for $549k the month before, which was straight out of a restoration by U.K. specialist Desmond J. Smail.
When will the rocket ride end?
This car was $75k or so more than one of those, and part of that can be explained by the left-hand-drive. A lot of top collector cars sold in the U.K. are going abroad, and left-handers are at an advantage when selling into Europe and the U.S. — to the extent that dealers have found it worth their while to have DB Astons converted.
To see where coupes might be heading, see the skyrocketing prices currently being asked for at least two top retail convertibles — especially in light of so many Astons recently being squirreled away to the Middle East, thereby reducing supply, increasing demand and raising prices (shades of the plot in “Goldfinger”).
We keep asking ourselves where it’s all going to stop, but as Jonathan Kaiser of boutique London retailer Hexagon Classics recently remarked: “The recession hasn’t hit the 1% of people who can pay for these cars.” Those two convertibles, asking $1.1m and $1.2m, are pristine. One is just out of a Works Service restoration, and DB5 convertibles have traditionally been just under twice the price of coupes.
As a guide to the bottom line for a good, usable DB5, take a look at the restored but very usable coupe, a former racer in Vantage spec and fundamentally good order, at the same RM sale at $360k.
With our subject car, we’re paying for originality and left-hand drive, and aptly, the car was sold to an American collector who no doubt carefully picked his moment. Time might prove this a wise buy.
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions).