Sir Sean Connery may have been our favorite Bond, but George Lazenby’s lone shot at the role—in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service—was notable in that he offered a softer side of the British agent. Spoiler alert, if you haven’t seen the film: James Bond asks his love interest to marry him.
Marriage for 007? What’s next, casting a Mercury Cougar as the hero car? Yes, in fact. And now that hero car could be yours. A 1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible, one of three used in production, will cross the block at Bonhams’ Bond Street Sale in London on December 16. This is the first time that this particular car has been offered at auction.
The pre-sale estimate is £100,000–£150,000 ($130,000–$200,000), which is reasonable considering a ’69 XR-7 convertible with 428-cubic-inch Cobra Jet V-8 has an average value of almost $100,000 in #1 (Concours) condition. The same Merc in #2 (Excellent) condition is worth just under $75,000.
Base price for a 1969 XR-7 convertible off the lot was about $3578, which would be about $25,390 today.
In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the Cougar belongs to “Bond Girl” Contessa Teresa (Tracy) di Vicenzo, played by the late Diana Rigg. Bond first sees Tracy and the Cougar when she passes him on a Portuguese coastal road. Later, things heat up between them—and cool down outside—as Tracy famously drives the Cougar on snow and ice in the Swiss Alps while members of the evil SPECTRE organization take chase. Props to Tracy for maintaining her concentration while Bond insists on kissing her cheek multiple times. She later bulldozes several barriers and jumps into a circle-track race, where she causes some crashes that aid in escape from the bad guys. Definitely sounds like Bond’s kind of woman.
According to Bonhams, Eon Productions obtained three identical Mercury Cougar XR-7s from Ford’s luxury division and used them during filming. Bonhams believes that this one was used in a barn scene, when Bond proposes to Tracy while they sheltered from a blizzard.
Completed on February 6, 1969 as a special order, it was registered in the U.K. the following week. This Mercury Cougar is one of only 127 XR-7 convertibles built with the highly desirable 335-horsepower 428 Cobra Jet V-8. The muscle car wears red paint and matching red leather interior and steel wheels, and a Kneissl ski rack and temporary French “visitor” registration plates were added for the film.
The Cougar has come a long way since its current owner bought it from a classified ad in the late 1980s, primarily for its engine. Fortunately, he discovered its Hollywood connection and completely restored the movie car over a 30-year period.
“(This Cougar) is not only an important piece of film history but also a stunning example of a 1960s muscle car,” says Bonhams’ Tim Schofield. “We are sure it will leave the salesroom stirred, if not shaken.”