A beautifully restored 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7 convertible, which had a starring role in the classic Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, stirred the Bonhams Bond Street Sale of motor cars on 16 December, selling for £356,500 – more than twice its pre-sale estimate and setting a new auction world record for the model.
The former star was the subject of spirited and protracted bidding before the gavel fell in favour of a bidder on Bonhams App, earning applause from the New Bond Street saleroom.
In the motion picture, the Cougar was owned by ‘Bond Girl’ Contessa Teresa (Tracy) di Vicenzo played by the late Dame Diana Rigg, and famously driven on ice in a high-speed car chase scene.
One of three identical Cougars bought for the 1969 movie by the filmmakers Eon Productions from Ford’s luxury division Mercury, the car was used in the ‘barn scene’ when James Bond, played by George Lazenby in his only outing as 007, proposed to Tracy as they sheltered in the car from a blizzard.
The Cougar was built in February 1969 as a special order and was registered in the UK a week later. One of only 127 XR7 convertibles powered by the desirable Cobra Jet (428) engine with Ram Air, this example was finished with red paintwork and matching leather interior. For its film role, it was also fitted with a rack for Kneissl skis and red French temporary visitor registration plates.
When the vendor bought the car – originally for its engine – it was not in a red-carpet condition. However, when he discovered the Cougar’s illustrious past, he embarked on a full restoration, bringing the Cougar up to concours standard over a 30-year period. He also reinstated it to its film specifications, including fitting a period ski rack, complete with the Kneissl ‘White Star’ skis.
Tim Schofield,Head of Department, Bonhams Motor Cars UK, said:“The Cougar was the star of the Bond Street Sale. We’re delighted that this Bond story has had a happy ending – and setting a new world record as well.”
Text and photography Bonhams