December 5, 2011


Coys, automobile auctioneers-extraordinaire, have a number of rare beauties on the auction block this week. Among the many vintage Jaguar and Ferrari is this special gem. The Aston Martin DB5 is well-known among Spy Vibers for its appearance in the James Bond universe. I'm sure we've all wanted to own one. But, what about a DB5 once owned by George Harrison of The Beatles?

From Coys:

"Estimate: £225,000 - £260,000
Registration Number: EU Taxes Paid
Chassis Number: DB5/1896/R

To many observers the Aston Martin DB5 is the epitome of the company's models during the David Brown era, boasting both beauty and refined high performance. It is also perhaps the best known Aston Martin in the world, having starred in the James Bond films Goldfinger and Thunderball, complete with machine guns and other gadgetry.

In evolution terms the DB5 is a Series V DB4 but with a 4.0 litre rather than 3.7 litre engine, its coachwork embodying detail changes; it thus featured similar stunning styling from Touring of Milan, incorporating DB4 GT-style faired-in headlamps, with aluminium panels attached to a lightweight steel frame using Touring's Superleggera method of construction.

Underneath, the platform chassis used independent coil spring wishbone front suspension with a live rear axle located by Watt linkage and parallel trailing arms. Disc brakes were fitted all round, but the Girling items of the DB4 GT rather than the DB4's Dunlop discs.

The Tadek Marek designed twin overhead camshaft, straight six engine was enlarged to 3,995cc from the DB4's 3,670cc, power rising to 282bhp at 5,500rpm in standard trim; a 314bhp Vantage option, using triple Weber rather than SU carburettors, higher compression ratio and a different camshaft profile, was a rare and desirable option.

Initially, the all-alloy engine was mated to a four-speed David Brown gearbox with overdrive but later models featured a five-speed ZF unit. An automatic transmission was also offered for the first time.

Other changes over the DB4 included an alternator, four exhaust silencers rather than two, electric windows and variable intensity brake lights. Following its launch in July 1963 in saloon and convertible forms the DB5 received much praise, not least for its performance. A maximum of 148mph in standard trim, allied to 0-60 and 0-100mph in 7.1 and 16.9 seconds respectively, made the DB5 one of the fastest cars available and a match for the very best from Europe.

The particular Aston Martin DB5 on offer here is a most remarkable example, not only for its originality but also because of its very interesting provenance. Manufactured in late 1964, DB5/1896/R was supplied new on January 1st 1965 through Brydor Cars of Brooklands to Beatle George Harrison.

Painted in the attractive shade of Platinum silver with a black Connolly leather interior, the factory build sheet shows that non-standard equipment specified by Harrison included chrome wire wheels with Avon tyres, 3 ear hub caps, a heated rear screen, a radio, Britax safety belts, FIAM horns with changeover switch and a detachable passenger headrest. The build sheet also states that the timing chain was modified later that same year.

By the late 1980's the DB5 had found its way into a museum in Tokyo, Japan. In 1995 it was purchased by a Japanese collector resident in Germany, where it was exported to join the rest of his collection. Purchased for the collection in 2007, the DB5 has been maintained in a largely original and unrestored condition.

Chassis DB5/1896/R is now presented in very nice general order, with a recorded mileage of just over 22,000 miles. The paintwork has clearly received some attention over the years and is in good order. The delightful patina on the leather seating surfaces and the condition of the roof lining and carpets leads one to believe that they are the originals while the internal door trims appear to have been refinished to a high standard relatively recently.

The instrument panel and wood rimmed steering wheel likewise appear to be original. The engine compartment is also largely original and shows the signs of some recent maintenance. The DB5 starts and runs well and shows no signs of major mechanical maladies.

The provenance of chassis DB5/1896/R is confirmed by a letter from Aston Martin, the history file includes a copy of the original build sheet and documents relating to the importation of the car into Germany.

Coys are delighted to offer for sale Harrison's first “important” car, bought new and delivered to Harrison personally in 1965 at his Kinfauns estate in Esher, Surrey, England.

We are offering here the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire not only one of the most collectible of the David Brown Aston Martins produced, in very original condition, but one that has been owned by arguably one of the most influential musicians ever to grace The Earth.

Please note that this car is to be sold on Bill of Sale.

Estimate: £225,000 - £260,000"

No ejector seat? Maybe the engine purrs along to the beat of I Need You or Taxman. Find out more at the Coys website.

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