Aston Martin sets $6m price record

UNIQUE: This 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT ''Jet''' coupe with coachwork by the Italian design house Bertone has sold for NZ$6m at auction.
UNIQUE: This 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT ''Jet''' coupe with coachwork by the Italian design house Bertone has sold for NZ$6m at auction.

An Aston Martin DB4 set an auction record of US$4.85 million (NZ$6m) for the ''James Bond'' maker as even wrecks found in barns sold for above-estimate prices.

A 1964 DB5 discovered after three decades in an old garage with a mouse nest in its engine bay sold for £320,700 (NZ$603,201) in the UK sale by Bonhams.

A grime-encrusted 1966 DB6 Vantage Sports Saloon Project, also untouched for 30 years, fetched £107,900 (NZ$202,948).

Partly thanks to its ''007'' associations, Aston Martin is the most desirable UK marque for collectors of classic sports cars. Prices have risen as collectable autos have become an increasingly popular alternative investment.

''The DB5 is one of the models that has led value increases in the classic-car market,'' Neil Dickens, co-director of the Wiltshire-based dealership the Hairpin Company, said before the event. ''The market for this marque is as strong as you could hope for, with the possible exception of Ferrari.''

The ''Blue Chip'' index of the best examples compiled by Michigan-based Hagerty, based on sales from more than 15 auction houses, reached an all-time high of 240.9 in April.

The unique DB4GT ''Jet'' Coupe, bespoke styled by the Italian design house Bertone, was estimated between £2.8m (NZ$5.26m) and £3.8m (NZ$7.14m) at hammer prices. It was bought by an anonymous bidder in the room for a formal price of £3.2m (NZ$6m) with fees at the 14th annual sale at the carmaker's factory in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire.

Created for the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, the Aston Martin ''Jet'' was being sold from a collector's estate and has not been seen on the market for more than 25 years. The price beat the £2.9 million given at RM Auctions in 2010 for a 1964 silver DB5 driven by Sean Connery in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.

Bonhams's total of £9.6m with fees was a record for this annual auction. The result beat a low estimate of £7.3m, based on hammer prices, and all but two of the 47 offered Astons found buyers.

The equivalent sale last year, with about 46 cars and memorabilia, raised £6.5m.

So called ''barn finds'' - cars in untouched condition - are highly prized by collectors in a selective market for classic models that puts a premium on originality.

With blue bodywork, the DB5 was bought by a bidder in the room against an estimate of £150,000 to £200,000 pounds.

The mice had moved out of the sports saloon before its cylinders were re-lubricated and it restarted without difficulty, if noisily, the seller said. The nest made of shredded newspaper was in place and included in the price.

The car had been bought in 1972 for £1500 by David Ettridge, an Aston Martin Owners Club member, who drove it until 1980. Ettridge died in 2011. Bonhams said the car, which had been stored in Sidmouth, Devon, western England, was perfectly preserved. Dealers estimated the restoration would cost about £200,000.

''This allows wealthy car owners to choose how they want it to be done,'' James Knight, Bonhams's head of motoring, said in an interview. ''The bespoke element is attractive. It's like ordering a Savile Row suit.''

There were gasps in the auction room when the DB6 sold for more than five times its lower estimate of £20,000.