A sports car that began its life rescuing a ‘Bond girl’ from a Portuguese beach now lives in a suburban Melbourne factory.
The owner of the Aston Martin DBS used in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service hopes to take the car for a spin to see the latest 007 movie when it is released this November.
“Every year since I’ve had the car on the road my wife would organise a Bond movie night for my family and running club,” Sigi Zidziunas told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“She would buy a block of 40 to 50 tickets and we would go out to dinner and watch the movie.”
COVID restrictions permitting, Mr Zidziunas will do the same again this year.
“Hopefully the cinema will give me space to park it out the front,” he said.
“It’s my pride and joy.”
Ad seemed too good to be true
In 1978, Mr Zidziunas was looking to buy a British sports car when he spotted a peculiar ad in the newspaper.
A car yard in Glen Huntly was advertising an Aston Martin DBS Vantage, said to be the vehicle driven by Australian actor George Lazenby in his debut as 007.
“It was advertised in the paper as an ex-film car but I didn’t believe it, because — no offence — who believes used car salesmen?” he said.
“I didn’t buy it because it was ‘the Bond car’, I bought it because I love British cars.”
He paid $14,200, which was “quite a lot of money in those days”; at the time Mr Zidziunas said $20,000 could get you a house.
It turned out to be a great deal.
When he contacted Aston Martin they were able to use the chassis number to confirm his car was the one driven in the James Bond film.
“In those days, no-one really gave much notice to ex-memorabilia vehicles,” Mr Zidziunas said.
Friendly fire takes car out of service
For the next five years, Mr Zidziunas used the sports car every day, driving his kids to school, going to work and doing the shopping.
“It puffed my chest out a bit to say I had an ex-James Bond car,” he said.
“Then my business partner ran into the back of it with his Aston Martin.”
Mr Zidziunas recalls he “wasn’t too impressed” with his friend.
The collision took the car off the road and what started as a simple repair job turned into a painstaking and lengthy restoration process.
Mr Zidziunas took the crumpled DBS to a friend’s workshop.
Every Monday, with the help of the mechanic, a group of men would get together and fix their cars.
“[It] became more than a hobby, but an obsession,” he said.
Repairs started in 1986 – two decades later the car was still in a workshop.
“My dad said to me, ‘What the hell are you doing with the car, just fix the damn thing will you? I want to have a ride in it before I die!”
Finally Mr Zidziunas’s father got his wish when the car returned to Melbourne’s roads in 2008.
Since then, the DBS has gone on to win several awards including Best Outright at the Aston Martin Owners Club Victoria.
It has also featured in several exhibitions, such as Melbourne Museum’s ‘Designing 007’ in 2013 and Spyfest in Goulburn, NSW.
“I am only too happy to show off the car to those who appreciate it,” Mr Zidziunas said.
Driving and dining with Bond
As well as loving British cars, Mr Zidziunas is a big Bond fan, having seen all the movies.
The car has given him the opportunity to dine and drive with 007 himself.
In the last decade George Lazenby has come out to Australia four times and been reunited with the car, signing the glove box in 2012.
“I actually met George on many occasions, and spent quite a time with him including dinners, interviews, and displays in the two Spyfest weeks in Goulburn where he originally came from,” Mr Zidziunas said.
Even when the car is not on display, work colleagues can enjoy an entire memorabilia wall in the chemical engineer’s office.
“Everyone laughs at me. It’s like a museum,” Mr Zidziunas said.
If Sigi could turn back time …
Over the years, both driving and restoring the car has brought Mr Zidziunas a lot of joy.
However, he does have one regret.
“When I was pulling some panels from underneath the car a whole pile of beach sand fell on me,” he said.
“In the very opening scenes of the movie Bond is chasing Diana in the car on a beach in Portugal.
“That sand I would have loved to have kept, because that would have been the sand from that beach! I just swept it up and threw it in the bin.”Internet Explorer Channel Network