Elite car auctions throw up some interesting automobiles, and RM-Sotheby's London sale on September 6 has a car with a great story: a Land Rover Defender SVX used in the blockbuster 24th James Bond adventure film, SPECTRE. The official estimate for the car is £100,000 to £150,000 (US$130,000 to $195,000) ... could it really go that cheaply?
Only 10 of these cars were built at considerable expense, and the car to be auctioned was a "beauty car," kept safe from the stunt work for close up and drive-by shots. If you've seen SPECTRE, you'll be surprised to find that eight of the 10 cars survived the obligatory 007 car chase intact.
Hence, this is a one-of-eight star car from a significant movie and given auction trends over the last 15 years, there are a long line of precedents suggesting it will sell for much more.
The Bond franchise is the longest running and second-highest grossing series in cinematic history. Only Star Wars has grossed more revenues, and that's because the Bond films have optimized all possible revenue and publicity avenues and become the perfect platform for product placement and marketing initiatives on every level.
Our feature article on The 50 most expensive movie & TV cars and motorcycles lists seven cars from Bond franchise films: two Lotus Esprit Coupes from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and For Your Eyes Only (1981), an Aston Martin V12 DBS from Quantum of Solace (2008), an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish Coupe from Die Another Day (2002), a BMW Z8 Roadster from The World is Not Enough (1999) and the Rolls-Royce Phantom III from Goldfinger (1964). Those cars fetched prices at auction which were many multiples of their value sans providence.
... and that's before we get to the the most memorable of Bond's cars, the gadget-festooned Aston Martin DB5 which starred in the films Thunderball and Goldfinger and has regularly been referred to as the most famous car in the world thanks to the publicity it garnered.
The DB5 sold for £2,912,000 ($4,595,998) in October, 2010, seven years ago. At that time the multiplier effect was in excess of x10, and DB5s rarely get much more than $1.2 million even today.
Appearing on a movie screen inflates a car's value by an indeterminate but substantial multiplier and the Bond factor is one of the most consistent value multipliers known to man. It is no coincidence that Star Wars merchandise and memorabilia is among the most valuable on the planet, too, because both series capture such a huge share of the movie-going public's mind.
There is of course the small detail that the SVX was the staff car for the bad guys in the film, but that didn't stop Goldfinger's Rolls Royce from making the list and the villainous stance of the SVX is its biggest asset.
The Bond film series resonates with the public, as does the Defender and its primary brand value of reliable long term service in hostile conditions. The homely but trusty Defender was famously the car of choice of the Queen of England, Sir Winston Churchill and the Special Air Service .
The SVX Defender was the product of a marketing partnership between Jaguar Land Rover, Albert R. Broccoli's EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations built three bespoke hero cars for the movie, being the Land Rover Defender SVX, Jaguar C-X75 and Range Rover Sport SVR pictured in that order below (with Miss Moneypenny and the assassin from the film).
Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations and Bowler Motorsport
Land Rover specialists Bowler Motorsport are the go-to guys for competition Land Rover Defenders and the company has worked collaboratively with Land Rover over many decades, racing and preparing factory race cars, manufacturing bespoke Defenders for those who race them, then ultimately creating the Defender Challenge.
The Defender Challenge one-make race series in the UK was conceived as a cost effective path for entrants to sample all the rally disciplines they would encounter in a world class rally raid event such as the Dakar (now through South America) or the Africa Race. Race the full series and you'll be prepared for what they serve up to the big boys.
Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations and Bowler worked collaboratively to design and build the 10 SVX vehicles to the extreme specifications that film hero cars deserve. All that expertise translated into the SVX we saw on film, tailored for the alpine conditions in which the cars were to be filmed.
That's how the massive 37-inch tyres came to be and those Darth Vader flared guards were designed to house them, with the roofrack and its bank of driving lights all finished in matte black combining to create the SVX's distinctive and very imposing presence.
This car spawned an industry
SPECTRE was released in November 2015 and the SVX immediately attracted its own cult following with brand new replicas surfacing across England.
One example is the Defender above, which is available through Brittle (Purveyors of Distinguished automobiles) for £125,000 with near identical specifications to the auction car, including an engine supplied by Bowler plus numerous other key parts of Bowler manufacture too. Tweaked Automotive offers another replica.
The Defender isn't the first Bowler replica sold through the Rich Brit brand and if a replica can be sold in commercial numbers at £125,000, then logically the original should be worth more.
It is difficult to identify precisely which car this is from the movie, but some indication as to its share of film time can be garnered from its mileage. Despite an eventful life, this car has traveled just 224 km. As a beauty car, it would have been trailered everywhere, detailed to perfection and driven only when being filmed. It is very likely that all of those 224 km were driven with a camera pointed at it. This is most likely the car on film whenever the SVX looks at its best.
Indeed, many of the eight extant SVX bohemoths have been working as show cars all over the world where their sheer physical presence makes them popular and strongly promotes the Bond franchise to an elite audience at events such as Top Marques in Monaco (above).
All the tech underneath is competition quality, bearing in mind the number of miles covered by Bowler racing Defenders in the last few decades would be tens of millions of miles of getting it right. The suspension underneath the SVX wears rose joint linkages and Bilstein rally dampers.
Keeping the occupants safe is a very visual affair with full external and internal roll cages, Recaro racing seats and 4-point harnesses.
The Bowler engine is a rebuild of the existing Ford Duratorq 2.2 L (2,184 cc) turbodiesel with power up from 120 hp to 185 hp and a mid range with a whopping 500 Nm of torque.
Defender devotees are a staunch bunch, and seeing their beloved car dressed up for prime time has clearly struck a chord ... how many movie cars create an instant industry of building £125,000 replicas?
It is so large and visually arresting that it is an ideal show or museum car, and it offers state of the art performance now.
Genuine Bond movie cars make up 7 of the top 50 most valuable movie cars ever sold and this car, in our humble opinion, will become the eighth on the list, because from our research, this is a blue chip automotive investment.