Top 10 most valuable James Bond cars: Spy Who Loved Me Lotus Esprit tops list

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

Its 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 per cent more than its road-going equivalent.

Because Hagerty monitors and tracks thousands of auction, dealer and private sales every year, it is 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. It converted the prices using the exchange rate for that time, then compared it to the Hagerty Price Guide value for that year. 

In reverse order, here are the 10 models that have commanded the highest premium thanks to a big-screen appearance in a Bond blockbuster.

10. 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1, Diamonds Are Forever

Year of sale: 2004 Standard Hagerty Value: £9,200 Bond Car Value: £12,650 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

Year of sale: 2021 Standard Hagerty Value: £6500 Bond Car Value: £8991 Bond Premium: 38%

This car is a strange one: it is currently for sale on classified advert 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 30th September, and it doesn’t even feature in the trailers. Despite that, the value of this car is nearly 40% 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

Year of sale: 2010 Standard Hagerty Value: £133,300 Bond Car Value: £221,500 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 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

Year of sale: 1978 Standard Hagerty Value: £3050 Bond Car Value: £8991 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 offence — 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 £8991. Standard cars in good condition were then worth £3050 according to contemporary guides: that’s a 182% premium.

6. 2008 Aston Martin DBS V12, Quantum of Solace

Year of sale: 2012 Standard Hagerty Value: £70,000 Bond Car Value: £241,250 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, some 245% over what a standard car was worth at the time.

5. 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Year of sale: 2020 Standard Hagerty Value: £55,500 Bond Car Value: £365,500 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 16th December 2020 for £365,500, smashing its pre-sale estimate of £100,000 to £150,000. That’s a huge 559% above the standard price for the model.

4. 1965 Aston Martin DB5, Thunderball and Goldfinger

Year of sale: 2019 Standard Hagerty Value: £616,550 Bond Car Value: £4,677,850 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 by Eon Productions for the launch of Thunderball and then converted to ‘Q Branch’ specification for the movie Goldfinger. 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 Golden Eye 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

Year of sale: 2018 Standard Hagerty Value: £35,200 Bond Car Value: £365,000 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.

2. 1974 AMC Hornet, The Man With The Golden Gun

Year of sale: 2017 Standard Hagerty Value: £5200 Bond Car Value: £89,105 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 US 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

Year of sale: 2013 Standard Hagerty Value: £12,300 Bond Car Value: £616,000 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’ which starred in the 1977 movie The Spy Who Loved Me. It sold at RM Sotheby’s 2013 London auction for £616,000, a huge 4908% mark-up over the standard 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 chequered 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.

Read the full report here

Chris Price
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