Registered less than two years after the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do,” hit the airwaves in the U.K., Paul McCartney’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5 stands as a rolling testament to Sir Paul’s good taste and to the Fab Four’s meteoric rise to fame and fortune. Like most scruffy young lads of the era, the Beatles held a keen interest in automobiles from the get-go, and their newfound status as the captains of a cash-printing pop-culture phenomenon enabled their passions. Although overshadowed by his well-documented 1966 DB6—not to mention bandmate John Lennon’s psychedelic 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V—the DB5 currently headed to Bonham’s auction in London on December 2 is widely believed to have been Macca’s first Aston.
Bearing the chassis number DB5/1653R, the 4.0-liter DB5 was completed on July 3, 1964, and delivered on September 22 to McCartney’s accounting firm. According to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (BMIHT) certificate, it was registered in McCartney’s name for the next six years. While in his hands it saw regular use; media outlets of the era spotted it around London with passengers including McCartney’s then girlfriend, actress Jane Asher, and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds.
The DB5 was originally finished in Sierra Blue with a black interior, and its equipment included a five-speed ZF gearbox, chrome wheels, Marchal fog lamps, Britax seatbelts, a Motorola radio, Armstrong Selectaride rear dampers, and, fittingly for a pop star, a Phillips Auto-Mignon record player.
It is believed that the car first changed hands around 1970, when it was sold to Truebell Stationers of southwest London; service records of the time showed just 40,513 miles. Its next owner, in 1983, was John Richard Rogers of Ilford, who sold it in 1996 to John Hardy Shannon. In 2002 the DB5 landed with an unnamed British collector, who sent it off to Walter Baroni of Milan for a complete restoration, including a new Sierra Blue exterior finish and interior, followed by a new cylinder head and a brake-system overhaul performed in the U.K. Later the DB5 found its way into the hands of Chris Evans—yes, that Chris Evans—who wisely accented the car’s significance by acquiring the “64 MAC” registration plate.
At some point, the decision was made to repaint the Aston Martin in the iconic Silver Birch of James Bond DB5 fame and to replace the black factory interior with Mulberry leather. Not to discount the cultural significance of Ian Fleming’s 007, but we’ve reached the point where it would seem the legacy of the Beatles is at least as impactful and therefore worthy of its own color scheme. Whatever the color, the car’s provenance is well documented.
The sale of the vehicle will be accompanied by a guarantee, a V5C registration form, current Ministry of Transport and BMIHT certificates, copies of invoices for recent restoration work, and a full-color, 141-page book documenting the DB5’s restoration and celebrity ownership. Pre-auction estimates peg the expected sale price at the equivalent of $1.6 million to $2 million.