The Midas Touch: The true value of a James Bond car

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RM Sotheby's

With the debut of the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, fast approaching, we’ve opted to take a concrete look at how enthusiasm around 007’s motoring habits have affected real-world values. Given that MI6 remains On Her Majesty’s Service, we look to our own British agent, John Mayhead, publisher of the U.K. Hagerty Price Guide for data insights. His brief is below.

It was the psychopathic bad guy Auric Goldfinger in the 1964 James Bond movie who was said to have the Midas touch, but Hagerty has found that just an association with the spy franchise is enough to make car values soar.

Our valuation analysts compared the values of real Bond cars which were used during the production of the famous films to the prices of standard examples of the same model and found that a starring role in a James Bond movie added on average over 1000 per cent to the value of a car, with one particular vehicle being worth nearly 5000 percent more than its road-going equivalent. And it’s not the one you think it is: That one had a rather inflated opinion of itself.

Because Hagerty monitors and tracks thousands of auction, dealer, and private sales every year, we are able to compare the average sale price of a standard car with the sale price of the same model that has been used during movie making. We converted the prices using the exchange rate for that time, then compared it to the U.K. Hagerty Price Guide value for that year. Where the sale was before our records began, we arrived at a value through contemporary sales listings and other valuation resources.

Here, then, in reverse order, Hagerty reveals the 10 models that have commanded the highest premium thanks to a big-screen appearance in a Bond blockbuster.

101971 Ford Mustang Mach 1, Diamonds Are Forever

1971 Mustang Mach 1 james bond car
Tiffany Case’s red 1971 Mustang Mach 1 from Diamonds Are Forever. Barrett-Jackson

Year of sale: 2004
Standard Hagerty Value: $12,470
Bond Car Value: $17,150
Bond Premium: 37.5%

The red Ford Mustang Mach 1 driven by Tiffany Case certainly made a visual impact in the 1971 movie Diamonds are Forever, but it didn’t excite the buyers when offered for sale by Barrett-Jackson in 2004, failing to reach its reserve with a top bid of $23,000 (£12,650). That was 37.5% more than a standard car was worth at the time, but the no-sale puts the car at the bottom of our list.

9. 1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E, No Time To Die

Benz 190E james bond car
This 190 E appears in No Time To Die and at the time of publication was for sale. Car & Classic

Year of sale: 2021
Standard Hagerty Value: $8800
Bond Car Value: $12,190
Bond Premium: 38%

This car is a strange one: it is currently for sale on classified site Car and Classic but it’s not yet been seen on screen, starring as it does in No Time to Die, the most recent movie in the franchise due for release on 30 September, and it doesn’t even feature in the trailers. Despite that, the value of this car is nearly 40 percent higher than a standard car—not a bad mark-up for something that, as far as we know, doesn’t have a huge role in the film.

8. 1937 Bentley 4 ¼-Litre Gurney Nutting 3-Position DHC, Never Say Never Again

Bentley james bond car
Coachbuilder Gurney Nutting created this elegant drophead on the 4¼-Litre Derby Bentley chassis. Bonhams

Year of sale: 2010
Standard Hagerty Value: $180,700
Bond Car Value: $300,290
Bond Premium: 66%

James Bond drove this car in a few scenes in the 1983 Warner Brothers blockbuster Never Say Never Again and it sold for £188,500 when it was auctioned by Bonhams in September 2004. Six years later, the car returned to the sale room, and this time Bonhams achieved £221,500—over two thirds more than a standard car of the time. This one was quite the star, however: not only did it have the Bond connection, but it also appeared in Magnum, P.I. and was a true concours example, having starred at Pebble Beach in 2003 following a restoration that reportedly cost in excess of $450,000.

7. 1969 Aston Martin DBS-6, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Aston Martin DBS 6 james bond car
Owner Sigi Zidziunas bought the original Aston Martin DBS-6 without knowing it was a real-deal Bond car. Sigi Zidziunas

Year of sale: 1978
Standard Hagerty Value: $4100
Bond Car Value: $12,100
Bond Premium: 182%

James Bond has only been married once, and this was his wedding car. Used in a number of scenes in the 1969 movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service this green six-cylinder Aston Martin DBS was exported to Australia where it was sold in 1978 to the current owner, Sigi Zidziunas, who told ABC News in Australia, “It was advertised in the paper as an ex-film car but I didn’t believe it, because—no offense—who believes used car salesmen?” Even then, it was expensive: advertised at $14,950 AUD, Zidziunas knocked him down to $14,200—the equivalent of $12,100. Standard cars in good condition were then worth $4100 according to contemporary guides: that’s a 182% premium.

6. 2008 Aston Martin DBS V12, Quantum of Solace

Aston Martin DBS bond car action scene
Sony Pictures

Year of sale: 2012
Standard Hagerty Value: $94,900
Bond Car Value: $327,000
Bond Premium: 245%

Driven by Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace this 2008 Aston Martin DBS was one of seven used for filming. Sold as a “collector’s item,” the auction house Christie’s warned potential buyers that they were responsible for “all tests and repairs and any other legally required formalities” to turn it back into a road car. The caution did not deter buyers: it smashed its top pre-sale estimate of £150,000, selling for £241,250 ($327,000), some 245% over what a standard car was worth at the time.

51969 Mercury Cougar XR7On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Mercury Cougar james bond car
This ’69 Mercury Cougar XR7, from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, sold for 559% over a regular example. Bonhams

Year of sale: 2020
Standard Hagerty Value: $75,250
Bond Car Value: $495,500
Bond Premium: 559%

The Contessa Teresa Di Vicenzo, also known as Tracy Bond, drove a stunning car throughout the 1969 Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service including the first scene which it shared with the Aston Martin DBS-6 described above. One of a reported four Cougars used for filming, it was sold at the Bonhams Bond Street Sale in London on 16 December 2020 for £365,500 ($495,500), smashing its pre-sale estimate of £100,000 to £150,000. That’s a huge 559% above the standard price for the model.

41965 Aston Martin DB5, Thunderball and Goldfinger

Aston Martin DB5 james bond car
It may be the most famous car in the world but it doesn’t top our list. RM Sotheby's

Year of sale: 2019
Standard Hagerty Value: $835,800
Bond Car Value: $6,380,000
Bond Premium: 759%

Billed as ‘The most famous car in the world’ when offered for auction in 2019 by RM Sotheby’s and the iconic Bond car, this was the real deal: one of two cars purchased byEon Productions for the launch of Thunderball and then converted to Goldfinger ‘Q Branch’ specification for a promotional tour of the United States. It sold just over its top estimate for $6.38M, or £4.67M, a mark-up of 759% over a standard DB5. In this case, provenance was everything: a similar DB5 that has been used as a stunt car in the filming of GoldenEye was sold by Bonhams the previous year, but it “only” made £1,961,500, just over three times the value of a standard model. But still, it’s only fourth on the list …

3. 2014 Land Rover Defender 110 Double Cab SVX, Spectre

Land Rover Defender james bond car
Ice-cool Defender in the ice-cold Austrian Alps. Sony Pictures

Year of sale: 2018
Standard Hagerty Value: $47,700
Bond Car Value: $494,800
Bond Premium: 937%

Back in 2017, a well-known dealer took me to his storage barn, deep in the British countryside. Swearing me to secrecy, he took me inside and lifted a tarpaulin covering a very special Land Rover, one that had been used in the filming of the movie Spectre. Later that year, RM Sotheby’s sold one of these special Bond SVX Defender 110s for £230,000 and the following July, Bonhams sold another for £365,000. The timing was perfect: production of the original Defender had ended in 2016 but in 2018, the factory had announced a short run of 70th Anniversary specials. Demand for the model went sky-high. The price of the Bonhams Spectre Defender was nearly 940% higher than a standard 110 Defender, but then again, just look at it. It’s as cool as the frozen Austrian landscape where it was filmed.

21974 AMC Hornet, The Man With The Golden Gun

AMC Hornet james bond car
The price of this Hornet spiraled, just like the car in its infamous stunt scene. RM Sotheby's

Year of sale: 2017
Standard Hagerty Value: $7000
Bond Car Value: 
$120,800
Bond Premium: 
1614%

Ask anyone to name a James Bond stunt, and the corkscrew ‘Astro Spiral’ jump made by Roger Moore’s Bond in the 1974 movie, The Man with the Golden Gun has to be right at the top of the list. The American-made car used was an unlikely hero: an AMC Hornet so mundane that even the U.S. Hagerty Price Guide doesn’t deem it worthy of inclusion. But the actual car used in filming was very special: maintained exactly as it was during filming, it sold at RM Sotheby’s Auburn, Indiana sale in 2017 for $110,000 (£89,105)—over 1600% over the value of a standard car. That puts it in second place.

1. 1977 Lotus Esprit S1 “Wet Nellie“, The Spy Who Love Me

lotus espirit james bond car rear
Bought for just $100, in 1989, Wet Nellie sold for £616,000 in 2013. RM Sotheby's

Year of sale: 2013
Standard Hagerty Value: $16,700
Bond Car Value: $835,000
Bond Premium: 4908%

The most valuable Bond car compared with its standard, road-going opposite number is … the 1977 Lotus Esprit S1 known as “Wet Nellie” that starred in the 1977 movie The Spy Who Loved Me. It sold at RM Sotheby’s 2013 London auction for £616,000 ($835,000), a huge 4908% mark-up over the standard U.K. Hagerty Price Guide value of the model at the time. Lost after filming, it was rediscovered in a New York storage container in 1989, having been sold for $100 in a blind auction to the next lucky owners.

In fact, the “Lotus”—which was bought at the sale by Elon Musk—was actually a film prop submarine used just in underwater scenes, and it doesn’t even have wheels. So, is it even a car? Should the lowly AMC Hornet take the checkered flag? We’ll leave you to decide.

Best Supporting Actors

Two other Bond cars have been offered at auction, but they failed to make our list because neither was available to the public, so there is no ‘standard’ value. Both cars starred in the 2015 movie Spectre where they famously chased each other through the streets of Rome. Bond’s Aston Martin DB10 was sold by Christie’s in 2016 for £2,434,500 ($3.5M) and in 2019 RM Sotheby’s offered bad-guy Mr Hinx’s Jaguar C-X75 at an auction in Abu Dhabi but it failed to reach its $800,000 low estimate. Do you expect me to sell? No, Mr. Jaguar, I expect you to… er… sell later through a dealer.

Via Hagerty UK

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