DEARBOURN, Michigan: It takes no imagination to guess James Bond's reaction to Thursday's news that his iconic Aston Martin super-sportscar is destined for the auctioneer's hammer.
007 would promptly down a vodka-Martini, shaken not stirred, to celebrate the release of the once-independent thoroughbred from the Ford Motor Company's financially troubled stable.
On Thursday Ford announced it had appointed an unnamed investment bank - most likely Citibank, whose representative on Ford's board quit earlier this week citing a potential "conflict of interest" - to handle the sale of the world-renowned brand.
A price tag of around $2 billion (€1.56bn; £1.05bn) is anticipated and Ford says it is already conducting "early talks" with interested parties.
According to Bill Ford, chairman/ceo of the eponymous company, Aston Martin is the "logical" choice for disposal, as it comes as a 'drive-away' package, complete with its own production units in the English Midlands and international dealer network.
Ford acquired its controlling stake in Aston in 1987, a time when the marque's exclusivity was enhanced by its rarity - just 46 units were sold that year. By 2005, production had increased to 4,500 when the über-auto celebrated its first profit since acquisition by Ford.
Ford insists that no decision yet been made with regard to the future of Aston's sibling Brit brands Jaguar and Land Rover.
Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff