New hope in mystery of James Bond's missing Aston Martin

Patrick Sawer
Sean Connery, who played James Bond, standing with the Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger - Rex Features

It is a mystery worthy of the pen of Ian Fleming himself, featuring a high stakes theft, shady middle men and a 20-year-hunt for the dastardly individuals responsible.

When the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 featured in the James Bond film Goldfinger was stolen from a Florida airport hangar in 1997 there were fears it would never be seen again.

For years the search for the car used by Sean Connery in his role as Fleming’s 007, the spy with a licence to kill, proved fruitless.

But now hopes have risen that it may yet be recovered, after a tip was received giving details of the Aston Martin’s  current whereabouts.

Its location, according to those supplying the information, is classic espionage territory - the Middle East.

Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger, with the Aston Martin DB5 Credit: Cine Text / Allstar/ Sportsphoto Agency

Art Recovery International (ARI), which was hired by an unspecified insurance firm to help track down the stolen Aston Martin, have been told it is being held at a specific location in the region.

A six figure sum is being offered for information leading to its safe return.

Christopher Marinello, the chief executive of ARI, told The Sunday Telegraph: “I have been given a specific tip, but we are working on it. We want to reach out to collector car community and vast array of mechanics to let them know we are very serious about recovering it.”

Naturally, Art Recovery are wary of the possibility the vehicle is simply one similar to the actual Aston Martin used in the Bond film.

“As there are many Aston Martins, it is very important that we get a shot of the chassis number, dp/216/1. This is what we are looking for, as it is very specific to the vehicle,” said Mr Marinello. “It is quite possible the potential in the Middle East is a mere look alike, which is why it is crucial we retain a close up of the chassis number.”

The stolen Aston Martin was one of two used in the filming of Goldfinger, with another deployed for the scenes featuring Connery behind the wheel.

Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger (1964)  Credit: CAP/MFS/Capital Pictures

ARI say it is estimated by some auction houses that the missing DB5 could now be worth between £7 and £10 million, given its iconic status as a 007 vehicle.

The DB5, which following the release of Goldfinger in September 1964 became known as "the most famous car in the world", was designed for Aston Martin by the Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera and named after Sir David Brown, the luxury car manufacturer's owner from 1947 to 1972.

The car’s rightful owner bought it at auction for $250,000 in 1986, but in June 1997 thieves managed to remove it from the hangar at Boca Raton and squirrel it away.

For the filming of Goldfinger the car had been modified to include an array of Bond gadgets, including machine guns, tyre-shredding blades and oil, smoke and water emitters.

As a result it was so heavy that when thieves broke into the hangar they had to drag it out by its axles, leaving telltale tyre marks leading up to where it was thought to have been loaded onto a waiting cargo plane.

Police investigating the theft drew a blank, paving the way for years of speculation as to its fate.