Main Line businessman Jerry Lee says he will miss the car he has owned for nearly 40 years but rarely drove. His 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is no ordinary vintage vehicle. This is the gadget-filled gem that Sean Connery steered in two James Bond movies, Goldfinger and Thunderball.
Surely, it’s the world’s coolest car—and maybe also the world’s most famous car. Its toy chest of gadgets includes rotating license plates, machine guns that pop out from under the headlights, a bullet-proof shield that rises from the trunk, knife-sharp tire shredders that threaten from the front wheels, the ability to launch an oil slick or bed of nails from the rear, and the ejector button that launched Agent 007 to safety through the roof.
This James Bond movie car is expected to bring in at least $5 million when it goes to auction in London on Oct. 27. Lee intends to use the auction proceeds to support his anticrime foundations, including the school of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania that he founded and funded. Bond would approve.
“Everything in my life happens by accident,” Lee said at a Sotheby’s auction preview in New York City.
In 1969, Lee happened to read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about how Aston Martin was selling the car. He went to the Aston Martin dealership in Philly to suggest bringing the car to the United States. Together, they phoned Aston Martin and made an offer. Lee then went to England to deliver the cashier’s check in person and take the car home. He paid just $12,000. “Clearly, they didn’t know the value of the car,” he says.
Lee, who owns the Philadelphia radio station WBEB 101.1 FM (aka B101), built a room to house the car and says he’s enjoyed showing off the gadgets to his guests. But, while the machine gun barrels do come out from under the headlights, the bullets were a studio effect. And, although you can press the red ejector button next to the steering wheel, actual ejection was also a special effect.
Lee added that he hopes the new owner—if it is a private collector and not a public museum—will let him visit the car.
Follow the auction live at rmauctions.com.