A 1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback once owned by Ian Fleming could start a bidding war at this year’s Gooding & Company Pebble Beach auction on August 15.
With its displays of incredibly exotic, incredibly expensive classic cars, its fine dining, stunning Californian scenery and high society clientele, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is already a very good setting for a scene in a James Bond novel. But the announcement that one of the potential star lots at this year’s classic car auction has a big Bond connection has changed things up a gear.
The lot in question is a 1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback that is completely unrestored having been left to sit in a Hollywood garage for the last 30 years. Classic Bentleys have been climbing in price in recent years and there’s little doubt that the R-Type Continental is one of the finest and most desirable grand tourers ever built by the company. However, despite its unrestored state, there’s every chance that this car could fetch $2 million when it goes under the hammer in August. And that’s because it used to belong to none other than Ian Fleming.
Fleming bought the car new and specified a number of special features including manual transmission, lightweight seats and fitted luggage. The story goes that the Bentley was a gift for Ivar Bryce who, as well as being one of Fleming’s closest friends was a real life intelligence officer and the inspiration for the character of Felix Leiter in the Bond novels.
But the Bond connections don’t stop there. The car makes an appearance in the 1961 James Bond novel “Thunderball.” Bond decides to buy the car while simultaneously foiling a SPECTRE plot to hold the world to ransom over a brace of missing nuclear warheads.
As the series of Fleming-penned Bond novels rolls on, Bond customizes the car, putting in a bigger engine, adding a supercharger and a racing clutch.
While the cinematic James Bond will forever be associated with Aston Martin, the James Bond depicted in Fleming’s novels only once got behind the wheel of an Aston — a DB Mark III — during “Goldfinger.” Bond’s car of choice was always a self-customized Bentley and throughout the novels it was his vehicular marque of choice.
Fleming’s Bentley will go up for auction alongside a number of other cinematically connected cars at the Goodings and Co event including a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible that once belonged to producer and playwright Wilton David “Bill” Manhoff and a one-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Two-Sear drophead coupe that belonged to Tyrone Power.