Ever since Frederick Simms first successfully acquired the rights to Gottlieb Daimler’s patent for a high-speed petrol engine and successfully launched their sale in 1891, the automotive industry has created some of the UK’s most instantly recognisable exports. And of the various brands that found their feet in Great Britain, few names evoke a stronger response in the minds of collectors and enthusiasts alike than Aston Martin. James Bond’s manufacturer of choice, this purveyor of some of the most luxurious cars in the world received a Royal Warrant in 1982 and their rarest models make frequent appearances at some of the world’s most exclusive auction houses, consistently selling for millions. What follows below is a summary of a few of their best-selling vehicles.
1: Aston Martin DBR1 – $22.5 million
The DBR1 sits at the top of not only this list but also the list of most expensive British cars ever sold at auction. A highlight of the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance show, the final figure for this enviable classic came in at $22,550,000, or just under £17.5 million. This figure beat the record for the previous most expensive British car ever sold; a Jaguar D-Type in 2016.
The reasoning for its worth is found through exploration of its illustrious history. Originally designed to win the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, it missed out on this goal during the final leg, when engine failure caused it to drop out two hours before the finish line. It would, however, go on achieve glory elsewhere when it won the 1959 Nürburgring 1000km race.
1: Aston Martin DP215 – $20.6 million
Ultra-light and incredibly aerodynamic, this old-school racer and veteran of the Golden Age of motor racing more than deserves the £16.7 million price tag it garnered at the Monterey Auction in 2018.
The highlight of its career came in 1963 when it clocked in at an incredible 198.6mph on the world-famous Mulsanne Straight of the Le Mans old course, simultaneously achieving the fastest recorded speed for a front-engine car on this course. In the hands of seasoned professionals, it still comes in quicker than its closest counterpart, the Ferrari 250 GTO.
3: Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato – £12.46 million
The Zagato endured a great deal before it reached the Bonhams Greenwood European auction in 2018. Over the course of its life, it was nearly destroyed three times through various misfortunes endured on the racecourse. Originally bought by poultry farmer John Olgier for use in his Essex-based Racing Stable, it saw use at Le Mans and changed hands several times before its most recent appearance at Bonhams where it collated its respectable £10.1 million price.
4: James Bond Aston Martin DB5 – $6.4 million
There are few car brands that have played a more prominent role in film history than the Aston Martin. The DB5 itself is a powerful name, synonymous with the James Bond films that held pride of place during the Golden Age of Hollywood. This particular DB5 is a cultural relic; one of three of the original set commissioned by Eon Productions for use in the Bond films helmed by Sean Connery. Although the model sold by RM Sotheby’s at Pebble Beach never actually made it on screen, it did appear as part of promotional material for the film “Thunderball”.
5: Aston Martin DB3S – $5.8 million
Held in conjunction with the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach classic car sale of 2014 saw its line-up include the 1955 Aston Martin DB3S.
One of the most expensive British cars sold by Monterey, it represents one of the twenty DBS3 cars ever produced by Aston Martin for customers, as well as the sixteen created for the works team.
6: Aston Martin Ulster – $3.7 million
Easily one of the oldest members of this list, the Aston Martin Ulster represents everything synonymous with the high-flying, cavalier attitude of the pre-war motor racing scene, with its connotations of glamour, scandal and “nobles oblige” undertones.
A veteran of Le Mans, Mille Miglia and Ards TT, it has changed hands relatively few times despite its long history, until it found a new owner at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2015, who drove away on it following its three million pound purchase.
7: Aston Martin DB4 Series IV Vantage Convertible – $1.85 million
One of the few remaining members of a set of nine original DB4 Series IV convertibles, this particular model was first owned by actor Sir Peter Ustinov. The model has been sought after by countless enthusiasts of open-air motoring for years, with one such piece which carried an opaque history and eventually surfaced in 2015 at the Bonhams-led Aston Martin Works Sale, where it was snapped up for the tidy sum of £1,513,500.