31 October 2012

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Lot 166

1964 Aston Martin DB5

  • Chassis no. DB5/1653/R
  • Engine no. 400/1641

Sold for £344,400

280 hp, 3,995 cc dual overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine, three SU carburettors, five-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle suspension with coil springs and Selectaride dampers, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,490 mm

• Delivered new to Beatles member Sir Paul McCartney
• Aston Martin’s most iconic model

Despite the fact that the DB5 sports saloon is often regarded as the most famous car in the world, and it is surely the most iconic model ever produced by Aston Martin, it was actually yet another development of the DB4 that preceded it in five different series from 1958 to 1963. In fact, within the internal company vernacular, the DB5 was initially referred to as the DB4 Series VI before the new model’s 170 modifications eventually prompted management to bequeath it with its own name.

Mechanically, the DB5 offered significant upgrades from its predecessor, with the displacement of engineer Tadek Marek’s classic inline six-cylinder unit enlarged to 3,995 cubic centimetres. Hearty aspiration was provided by three SU carburettors, identical to the configuration of the special-series DB4 Vantage engines. Outwardly, though, the new car shared its predecessor’s dimensions and classic superlegerra coachwork, which was built under license from Touring of Milan at Aston’s Newport-Pagnell factory. Indeed, to the naked eye, the DB5 looked virtually identical to the outgoing Series V DB4.

There is little doubt, therefore, that the DB5’s current reputation as one of the most renowned motor cars of all time can be traced to several of the very early examples that were used in the filming and marketing of Goldfinger, the revered James Bond film that began a long association between the two properties. Aston Martin owner David Brown shrewdly recognized the publicity value in lending several cars to Albert Broccoli’s Bond production, and the product placement provided a cinematic milieu worthy of the car’s elegant appearance and killer performance, qualities duly reflected by the Walther-packing 007.

As documented by the heritage certificate from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, this beautiful DB5 coupé was originally ordered by Sir Paul McCartney, the legendary Grammy-winning songwriter and bass player of the Beatles, who has recorded some of music’s most treasured hits. Though Sir McCartney also later owned an Aston Martin DB6 that was the subject of a fair amount of media coverage, this lesser known DB5 is actually believed to be the first Aston owned by the musician, and he ordered it at a particularly important career juncture, just weeks after the Beatles’ famous Ed Sullivan appearance and their completion of filming A Hard Day’s Night.

Ordered by Mr McCartney prior to his departure for the Beatles’ world tour in the summer of 1964, 1653/R completed assembly on 3 July 1964, finished in Sierra Blue paint and fitted with a black leather interior. Desirable options included the Armstrong Selectaride rear shock absorbers, chrome wire wheels, a Motorola radio, and an unusual Philips Auto-Mignon record player, which was obviously the perfect amenity for a professional recording star. Reportedly, the interior leather also originally included musical note-styled patterns in the stitching. Though the upholstery has since been replaced, an authentic sample of the original material remains with the car, for the owner that might wish to recreate the car in its original McCartney livery.

Delivered on 22nd September to Bryce, Hanmer, & Isherwood, Mr McCartney’s accountants at the time, this DB5 was subsequently registered in the musician’s name and driven to great enjoyment over the following six years. In a 22 September 1967 profile of Paul McCartney, Time magazine wrote, “Batchelor Paul, 25 (his favorite ‘bird’ is 21-year old actress Jane Asher), is a movie addict, loves ‘the look of London,’ and tools around town in a spiffy blue Aston Martin DB5”. 1653/R’s public record was further established when Roger McGuinn, the guitarist from the British rock band the Byrds, recalled a concert that his band performed during their 1965 domestic tour. Apparently the Beatles were in attendance, and following the show, the two bands spent some time socializing. “The next night”, recalled McGuinn, “I went to Paul McCartney’s club in St. James and he took me out for a drive around London in his Aston Martin DB5. It was a really amazing time”.

Service records indicate that in 1970, when 1653/R was fitted with a new clutch and received some other minor service work, the odometer displayed 40,513 miles. It is believed that around this time, the car changed hands for the first time when it was sold to Truebell Stationers in Wandsworth, London. More recently, on 12th March 1983, the DB5 was acquired by John Richard Rogers, of Ilford, who retained possession of it for 13 years, before selling the car on 16th July 1996 to John Hardy Shannon.

In 2002, this Aston Martin was sold to a British collector who recognized the importance of the car and decided that it was well-deserving of some attention. He commissioned Walter Baroni, of Corsico, Milan, to perform an extensive cosmetic restoration that included a bare-metal sanding and repaint in the car’s original colour of Sierra Blue, as well as the installation of a proper new grey interior. Completed in early-2011, the restoration continues to pay dividends in the car’s stunning cosmetic presentation, promising future ownership a welcoming invitation to concours competition or vintage touring events. Also, upon returning to England, 1653/R received a freshening to the brakes and the cylinder head, courtesy of marque specialist Headshop, Ltd., in Wallington, ensuring mechanical quality worthy of the fine cosmetics.

Few names in modern popular music loom as large as Paul McCartney, while, similarly, few post-war grand touring sports cars generate the excitement and respect of the beloved Aston Martin DB5. A unique cross-section of these two giants of 1960s British culture, 1653/R is a rare collectable that has been fastidiously restored and offers long-term appreciation as an authentic and truly unique piece of Beatles memorabilia.

Alain Squindo

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