1965 Aston Martin DB5Convertible
Year of manufacture1965
- Built as a show car for the Salón Internacional del Automóvil de Barcelona, as noted in factory documents
- One of just 39 DB5 Convertibles specified in left-hand drive
- Concours-quality restoration at Aston Martin Works Ltd, the historic home of the marque; matching-numbers chassis and engine
- Finished in California Sage over Red Connolly leather, with ultra-rare matching factory hard top
Launched in 1963, the Aston Martin DB5 represented the pinnacle of British automotive design. With a classic-yet-modern shape that hid a deceptively muscular stance, the sharply dressed grand tourer combined spirited performance with elegant superleggera coachwork in a way that came to define the David Brown era. Already a hit with well-heeled buyers, the DB5 became the stuff of legend with the wider public when the Silver Birch-cloaked lines of James Bond’s iconic machine first appeared on screen in the spy thriller, Goldfinger. Newport Pagnell’s premier grand tourer would remain etched in the minds of subsequent generations of both movie-goers and car enthusiasts. But while 007 made do with the tin-top version—produced in their many hundreds between 1963 and 1965—the more exclusive offering remained the DB5 Convertible, of which just 123 were created. Of those, just 39 left the United Kingdom specified in left-hand drive destined for the export market.
As elegant as it was rare, the convertible version of the DB5 shared its drivetrain, running gear, and impressive 225 km/h-plus performance with the saloon—not to mention its classic design language. Beneath the bonnet lay the closed car’s sublime 4-litre, 283-horsepower straight-six engine mated—as standard—to a five-speed ZF gearbox that remained only an option in the saloon. This high specification was augmented by an alternator, electric windows, and exhaust silencers. Chrome wire wheels, an oil cooler, a fire extinguisher, full leather trim, reclining seats, twin fuel tanks, and wool pile carpets also came as standard. It was an understandable level of luxury when you consider that the DB5 Convertible’s retail price of £4,490 was more than the cost of the average house at the time.
This offering, chassis 2111/L, was delivered on 12 May 1965. According to the accompanying British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate, the car was sold via Spanish concessionaire Alton SA, with special mention made that it was to serve as the show car for the Salón Internacional del Automóvil de Barcelona. A build sheet confirms that the car’s first owner was influential architect and impressionist painter José-Luis Sanz-Magallón, who would go on to design the Atalaya Tower in Barcelona, one of the earliest tall buildings in the Catalan capital.
The DB5 was specified in California Sage over a Red Connolly hide interior, with a contrasting black soft-top. In addition to an exceptionally rare body-coloured steel hard top, the Aston Martin left the factory fitted with chrome wire wheels, detachable headrests, DB5 exhibition plates—presumably for show use—Marchal fog lamps, a Motorola radio, a powered aerial, and wing mirrors.
Chassis 2111/L later spent time in the United States, before being imported to Switzerland on 19 August 2009. Shortly after being bought by the consignor in 2017, a full body-off restoration with Aston Martin Works Ltd was commissioned at a quoted cost of £425,000. This involved process began with the removal of the body, which was then chemically stripped of paint for assessment, with new panels made, as required, from 16-gauge aluminium using an English wheel and factory jigs. The bodywork was then finished in the car’s original shade of California Sage.
The chassis, meanwhile, was sand-blasted, properly aligned, and finished in factory-correct colours, with a high attention to detail that included applying red oxide paint in each of the foot wells. Inside, the cabin was fully re-trimmed, with rebuilt seats finished in the correct Red Connolly hide, complemented by brand-new carpets and headlining.
The original straight-six engine was fully stripped and rebuilt, with light modifications—including fitment of hardened valve seats, replacement of rubber hoses with modern silicone, and modification of the cooling jacket waterways—made to aid reliability. The Weber carburettors were upgraded to the latest “Works” specification. Elsewhere, the mechanical elements of the car received a complete overhaul, including the gearbox, rear differential, brakes, steering, and suspension. Myriad auxiliary components were replaced with new versions, including a brand-new set of wire wheels.
It was noted that the car was to “be brought back and/or restored to original specifications including original colour and trimming”, with work beginning in the first quarter of 2018 and completed by mid-2021. The history file contains photographs documenting the exacting standard of the work carried out, in addition to comprehensive restoration updates from Aston Martin Works Ltd. The car is also accompanied by a detailed condition report and appraisal by Salvatore Gallicchio carried out in August 2021; a set of leather travel bags matching the car's interior; tools; and the ultra-rare factory hard top with protective storage bag.
As well as being a hugely desirable convertible variant with an enviable period motor show history, this Aston Martin DB5—with matching-numbers chassis and engine—benefits from an exhaustive restoration at the hands of leading marque experts Aston Martin Works Ltd. Finished to an exceptionally high standard in the unusual and deeply attractive shade of California Sage, this elegant open example of Aston Martin’s iconic DB5 is undoubtedly one of the best of the breed, most deserving of its place in a leading collection of coach-built grand tourers, and on the concours d'elegance lawns that will inevitably follow. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/sm22.