For Newport Pagnell, 007. The true story of the original Goldfinger ‘gadget DB5’ is a case James Bond himself would need all of Q’s resources to solve.
‘It was stored at a Miami airport until 1997. Thieves made off with the car – it’s not been seen since’
James Bond drove a battleship grey Aston Martin DB Mark III in the Goldfinger book in 1959, but by 1964 when Eon Productions began a film version of Ian Fleming’s story the car needed updating. Production designer Ken Adam and special effects chief John Stears wanted Bond behind the wheel of a DB4 GT Zagato. Aston Martin was less than convinced about the likely benefit of being involved in a movie, but in the end a deal was struck for Newport Pagnell to supply two of Aston’s current model, the DB5, for use in the film. Except that one of them wasn’t really a DB5 at all…
Part of Aston Martin’s reticence about its involvement stemmed from the modifications the film producers wanted to do to the car: the ejector seat, hidden machine guns, rotating number plates and more meant one of the cars would have to be substantially hacked about. So Aston Martin provided a well-used development car, BMT 216A, which could be cut-and-shut to accommodate all the gadgets. BMT started life as a DB4 Vantage, and became the prototype for the DB5 under the factory identity DP 216/1. For close-ups Aston Martin provided a much tidier production DB5 registered FMP 7B, though it carried BMT’s plates during filming. The two cars were virtually indistinguishable on screen, though sharp eyes will spot orange reflectors in front of the wing air vents on FMP (but not BMT) and a chrome rear registration plate trim on BMT (but not FMP).
When the film became a success, Aston Martin fitted replica gadgets to FMP 7B and used it as a show car. It also reappeared in the title sequence for the next Bond film, Thunderball, in 1965. In 1969 it was acquired by American enthusiast Jerry Lee, who kept it until 2013. Classic Cars tested it in 2010, before it was sold at auction for £2.9 million. T he fate of the real BMT 216A is stranger: the original gadgets were removed and it was re-registered, then sold as a normal used car, but its identity was discovered and replica gadgets installed to return it to Bond spec.
In 1986 it was bought by Florida property developer Anthony Pugliese and made many show appearances in the US over the next few years. It was then stored in a hangar at the Boca Raton airport in Miami until 1997. Then thieves made off with the car – it’s not been seen since.
After the release of Goldfinger two more Bond DB5s were prepared for promo duties, so there were four Astons that were genuinely associated with the movie. When Bond drove a DB5 again in 1995’s Golden Eye none of those original cars were involved. Pierce Brosnan’s DB5 carried the registration BMT 214A, two numbers away from the original.