2021 Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale (Aston Martin BD5 Convertible Announced)

A 1964 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible originally owned by Peter Sellers and then by Lord Snowden, husband of Princess Margaret, was announced for the Bonhams 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in the UK in July 2021.

1964 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible on offer at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale 2021
© Bonhams

The first high profile car announced for the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed 2021 classic car auction is 1964 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible, estimate £1,300,000 to £1,700,000 ($1,800,000 to $2,100,000). The car, one of only 123 convertibles produced, was originally owned by comedy great Peter Sellers. He sold it to Lord Snowden, husband of HRH Princess Margaret, and it was subsequently displayed at the National Motoring Museum at Beaulieu before Viscount Linley drove it for several years.

Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale 2021

The Bonhams Festival of Speed Sale will be a traditional live auction on Friday 9 July 2021, with bids accepted from clients in the room (respecting social distancing and all local COVID-related guidelines), online, and on the telephone. The classic car auction is held during the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed motoring extravaganza near Chichester in the south of England. Even pre-corona, the Goodwood festival was an advance-purchase-only event with no tickets sold at the gate.

The Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale is traditionally one of the classic car auction highlights in the UK and Europe. Previous sales highlights at Goodwood include the $30-million 1954 Mercedes Benz W196 Formula 1 racing car — the most expensive car ever sold in the UK — as well as marque records for amongst others Bentley, BMW, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, and Rolls Royce.

1964 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible at Bonhams Goodwood 2021

1964 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible on offer at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale 2021
© Bonhams

The first major car announced for the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed 2021 sale is a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible, estimate £1,300,000 to £1,700,000 ($1,800,000 to $2,100,000) with Hollywood and royal connections. This convertible was owned by the jet-set of the 1960s, the late actor and comedy great Peter Sellers, followed by Lord Snowdon, society photographer and husband of HRH Princess Margaret, and subsequently their son, Viscount Linley.

Ex-Peter Sellers Aston Martin DB5 Convertible

In 1964, Peter Sellers’ career was at its peak, as the star of box-office hit films such as The Pink Panther and Dr. Strangelove. It is apt that one of the most coveted sportscars of the time should catch the eye of the well-known motor car aficionado and Aston Martin enthusiast. 

Designed by Carrozzeria Touring Superleggerra, the Caribbean Pearl Blue convertible was one of only 123 soft-top variants. Its beauty was matched by its performance: with its 282 bhp 4-litre straight-six engine, mated to a state-of-the-art five-speed ZF manual gearbox, being capable of a 145mph top speed. 

Optional features selected by the actor included fog lamps, cigar lighter, a dark blue hood and cover, and non-standard chrome Roadwheels and, the height of technology for the time, a wireless Motorola radio car telephone. All were noted on the original Aston Martin bill of sale recording Peter Sellers as the buyer, a copy of which is offered with the motor car.

Lord Snowden’s Aston Martin DB5 Convertible

1964 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible on offer at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale 2021
© Bonhams

Sellers was notorious for frequently changing his car collection and so it would not have been difficult for his friend Lord Snowdon, who had admired the DB5, to persuade the actor to sell it to him in the late 1960s. The Earl of Snowden was married to HRH Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II.

During his custodianship, the Earl drove the DB5 to Prague, although he was a more familiar sight cruising around Chelsea, Mayfair, and Soho. Word has it, that the DB5’s boot was used to smuggle Lady Jacqueline Rufus Isaacs, daughter of the Marquis and Marchioness of Reading, away from his country house when the Princess returned home unexpectedly one evening. 

Rather more prosaically, the four-seater was also pressed into service as a family car. The former Viscount Linley (the Second Earl of Snowdon) once recalled the family journeys: “We always had the windows down so my mother could smoke her cigarettes.”

To the young Viscount, the DB5 was of course a symbol of the cinematic James Bond, driven by actor Sean Connery on the silver screen. He later commented: “I had the Corgi car, and my father had the real thing. It even had a special gadget – the very first car phone in Britain. It worked a bit like a walkie-talkie; you clicked a button twice and got through to the exchange.”

Following a few years on display at the National Motoring Museum at Beaulieu, the DB5 was passed from father to son in 1986 to mark the latter’s 25th birthday. Rather than keep it in the museum as advised, the second Earl, who was living in London at the time, fitted a series of heat-deflecting panels in the footwells to cope with modern traffic and even drove the car to Italy. The DB5 was maintained and rebuilt several times by Aston Martin Works Service, where it would be parked next to the DB6 of his cousin, The Prince of Wales. 

However, after more than 30 years’ family ownership, the DB5 was sold by the second Earl, as “the pain and pleasure of owning a classic vehicle mounted up.”

In its present cherished ownership for over ten years, this car also has contributed to having helped raised (literally) millions for UK children’s charities, via countless tours and appearances. 

Sholto Gilbertson, Director, Bonhams Motor Cars UK, said: “If ever a car defined an era, this DB5 is surely on the shortlist. Not only was it one of the most desirable and thoroughbred sportscars of its day but it has an extraordinary provenance being owned by the crème de la crème of the 1960s. 

“This is a fitting star for our first sale at the Festival of Speed for two years. We are greatly looking forward to hosting a live auction again at our second home and welcoming our Goodwood friends and clients back to the Bonhams saleroom.”