Could this Aston be a multi-million-dollar baby at auction?
VANCOUVER For more than two years, an exclusive and well-hidden restoration shop in South Surrey has had a secret project in progress. Undergoing a complete world-class restoration was a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 almost identical to the famed James Bond car driven by Sean Connery in the iconic film Goldfinger. The restoration project did not include gadgets featured in the original movie car like revolving licence plates, a switch to create an oil slick so pursuit vehicles would slide out of control, machine guns that popped out of front fenders and a passenger ejection seat. But restorer Claude St. Pierre has spared no time or expense to build a better-than-new Bond-style Aston Martin without the toys. His customer, a retired Vancouver dentist who prefers anonymity, bought the car 20 years ago in Connecticut and put it on the road after converting it to left-hand drive, with a modest mechanical and body restoration.
By 2012, it was time to repair some damage to the hood. The owner took the car to restorer St. Pierre after seeing the results of a 1969 Camaro Z28 he restored. St. Pierre, who grew up around cars in his father s Montreal repair shop, thought a minor cosmetic restoration would be in order. But the restoration work soon headed to a much higher level a 100 per cent nut-and-bolt rebuild done to the highest standard with no detail spared.
The Aston Martin was taken down to its bare aluminum body for restoration to better-than-new condition
Alyn Edwards, Driving
I quickly realized I could never drive this car with this quality of restoration, the owner says. He then contacted Bonhams Auctions and placed the car in the upcoming sale in Scottsdale, Arizona. A Bonhams vice-president flew in to see the car and made a series of recommendations to complete the restoration, including equipping the car with original-style Avon tires. The selection of the silver colour mimicking the James Bond Aston Martin was a no-brainer. Connolly black leather from bull hides imported from England was also a must for master upholsterer Don Whitfield, who spent nearly a year trimming the Aston. Aston Engineering of England supplied most of the new parts along with information, specifications, photographs and design information to enable St. Pierre to make parts he couldn t get. The original body was stripped to its bare aluminum skin, mounted on a rotisserie, massaged, worked and ultimately painted over and under before the running gear and new interior were installed. Every detail is correct right down to the original long-wave medium band radio.
Bonhams Auctions hired a photograph to do a photo shoot of the restored 1964 Aston Martin DB5 for the auction catalogue and online description.
Alyn Edwards, Driving
In early December, Bonhams hired a local photographer to take several dozen high-quality photographs of the nearly completed Aston Martin DB5. The photos and description were for the Bonhams catalogue and website detailing offerings in the Jan. 28 auction, where the DB5 is prominently displayed. It is bound to attract strong bidding. The original movie car used in Goldfinger and Thunderball sold at auction in 2010 for $4.6 million including the 12 per cent buyer s fee. Restorer St. Pierre and the owner are hoping the Aston Martin will fetch big bucks at the Arizona auction. How much, is the question.
A million dollars Canadian is not out of the question, the owner says with a grin.
Investing several hundred thousand dollars in a concours-quality restoration would then have been a good idea. St. Pierre logged a total of 2,677 hours returning the iconic British sports car to perfection, plus countless hours spent on research and parts acquisition.
Was it worth it? All eyes will be on the Bonhams auction in Scottsdale on the 28th.
Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company; [email protected]