This is one of four examples of the Aston Martin V8 that was used on screen in The Living Daylights, the James Bond film starring Timothy Dalton as 007. The car was equipped with a number of Q Branch gadgets including outrigger skis, spiked tires, a laser, and a rocket booster.
After filming this car was retained by EON Productions until 1995 when it was sold to well-known collector Peter Nelson, the owner of the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum. The car is now equipped with a Vantage-specification V8 and a ZF 5-speed manual transmission, and it’s coming up for sale with RM Sotheby’s.
Fast Facts – An Aston Martin V8 From The Living Daylights
- The Living Daylights was Timothy Dalton’s first outing as James Bond. The film was released in 1987 and it grossed $191.2 million USD worldwide.
- The film was notable for reuniting Bond with Aston Martin, a Lotus Esprit had been used in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, then again four years later in For Your Eyes Only.
- Two different Aston Martin models were used during filming, a V8 Volante convertible which is said to have been later modified by Q Branch into a hard-top non-Volante V8 saloon which was badged to look like the Volante.
- The car shown here is one of the four Astons used during filming, it remained in EON Production’s ownership for many years and then on museum display. It’s now in private hands and it’s due to be offered for auction in mid-August.
The Living Daylights
Editor’s Note: The below is a detailed synopsis of The Living Daylights and as such, it incudes a number of major spoilers. It’s a great film and one of the more underrated 007 outings so if you haven’t seen it yet I recommend watching rather than reading about it here in condensed form.
The Living Daylights is the fifteenth installment in the James Bond film series and the first to star Timothy Dalton as the iconic British secret agent, James Bond. Directed by John Glen, the film brings a refreshing, and perhaps more realistic approach to the character while still delivering the thrilling action and espionage elements that the 007 franchise is known for.
The movie follows Bond as he embarks on a mission that takes him across Europe and into the heart of a complex Soviet conspiracy. Bond is assigned to aid a defecting Soviet KGB officer, General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé), who claims to have vital information about a new and deadly arms deal. Bond’s mission is to safely extract Koskov from Czechoslovakia and bring him to the West for a debriefing.
During the operation, Bond meets and teams up with Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo), a talented and enigmatic Czech cellist. Unbeknownst to Bond, Kara is unwittingly entangled in the conspiracy. As they traverse through a web of intrigue, betrayal, and deception, Bond begins to question Koskov’s motives and the authenticity of the information he holds.
As the plot unfolds, Bond discovers that the arms deal is being orchestrated by an enigmatic and ruthless arms dealer known as Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker), who plans to profit from escalating international tensions. Moreover, Bond uncovers a treacherous double-cross that puts both his and Kara’s lives in jeopardy.
Above Video: This is the chase scene that features the Aston Martin V8 shown in this article. You can see this specific car towards the end of the chase scene at about the 4:30 mark as it crashes downhill into the snow drift.
With his trademark charm, resourcefulness, and combat skills, Bond races against time to expose the sinister plot, neutralize the threat, and protect Kara from harm. Along the way, he faces thrilling car chases, explosive confrontations, and high-stakes encounters with deadly adversaries, including the deadly female assassin Necros (Andreas Wisniewski).
The Living Daylights showcases a mix of intense action sequences, clever spy work, and character development. With Dalton’s portrayal, James Bond becomes a more brooding and introspective agent, adding depth to the iconic character. The film successfully blends classic Bond elements with contemporary sensibilities, making it a standout addition to the long-running franchise – some have called it the first of the “modern” Bond films.
The 1973 Aston Martin V8 From The Living Daylights
The car you see here is one of the most consequential Bond cars from its time, it’s one of just four made for The Living Daylights and the other three cars are all firmly held in long term collections with little sign they’ll be sold anytime soon.
Because of an 18 month long waitlist, Aston Martin faced difficulty in providing EON Productions with new cars for the film. As a result, the enterprising production team took matters into their own hands – they acquired four Aston Martin V8s from the secondhand market and applied the necessary modifications to make them look like new models.
In addition to the modified cars used for filming, the production also built several prop replicas using little more than fiberglass body shells. These replicas, created by the studio, served their purpose during production and were destroyed during filming or scrapped afterwards.
The vehicle shown in this article is the car that was used for the final section of the memorable chase scene in the mountains – the one that crashes headfirst into a snowdrift after evading a road block courtesy of some hydraulic skis and a rocket motor – in true James Bond fashion.
As the car only needed to be rolled downhill and crashed the original V8 engine and automatic transmission were removed. After filming the car was kept by EON Productions for approximately 10 years before being sold to well-known James Bond collector Peter Nelson, the founder of the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum.
EON and Nelson enjoyed a friendly relationship, and he had previously bought a number of cars and other equipment for the museum. He bought this car and two of the others, leaving just one in the possession of EON, and put them on display.
Nine years ago Nelson sold this Aston to an American collector and thankfully, they opted to get the car back on the road. As the original and engine were still missing they sourced an Aston Martin V540 V8 with Vantage-specification upgrades, and a ZF 5-speed manual transmission and had them installed in the car – allowing it to move under its own power for the first time in 35 years.
During this process some underside corrosion was repaired, the front end was repainted, and all of the cars mechanical systems were serviced and overhauled to ensure they were up to snuff. A new center console was created, matching the Q Branch original seen in the film, with dummy switches for the gadgets and a self-destruct button.
Importantly the dummy rear rocket booster was also modified to shoot real flames so the next owner can flambé marshmallows to their heart’s content. The Q Branch skis can be fitted for display purposes when required, and the listing suggests that the vehicle would be a welcome competitor at the The Ice St. Moritz.
The car is now due to be offered for sale by RM Sotheby’s in Monterey, California with a price guide of $1,400,000 – $1,800,000 USD on the 18th of August. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images: Erik Fuller ©2023 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
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