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Buying a Piece of Hollywood, Tires Included

The car from The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977

Photograph by Everett Collection

The car from The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977

For Hollywood, it’s been a summer of mega-disappointment at the box office. Some blockbusters of years past, though, are still generating millions, as cars from iconic movies and TV series are sold at auction.

Collectors will plunk down serious money for a vehicle with a Hollywood pedigree. A race car used by Steve McQueen in the classic film Le Mans sold for $11 million last year, while the original Batmobile from the 1960s Batman TV series went under the hammer recently for $4.6 million.

“Vehicles that have serious screen time in major films really get a premium,” says Peter Haynes of RM Auctions in London, which sold the ejector-seat-equipped Aston Martin driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger and Thunderball for more than $4 million in 2010. In September, RM will auction the custom-built Lotus submarine car used by 007 in The Spy Who Loved Me.

McQueen memorabilia is particularly coveted. A Porsche 911 he drove in Le Mans sold for more than $1.3 million in 2011. Trucks, motorcycles, and driving helmets and suits owned by McQueen—who was a racing fanatic off-screen as well as on—also command high prices.

Those on tighter budgets can opt for cars from TV shows. A 1969 Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard fetched $121,000 last year, while a 2003 Cadillac Escalade driven by James Gandolfini in HBO’s (TWX) The Sopranos sold for $49,500 in 2008.

Here’s a look at some of the Hollywood automobiles making big money on the auction block. Maybe the Lone Ranger should have swapped his horse for a car.

Matlack is a Paris correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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