Chicago native Doug Redeniu collects James Bond 007 vehicles for charity

CHICAGO– Doug Redenius’ first encounter with fictional British secret agent James Bond took place in 1964 in a movie theater in Illinois.

“I was eight years old and my father took me to see ‘Goldfinger’,” Redenius recalled. “I was addicted. After Goldfinger, my dad and I watched every James Bond movie as soon as it came out.”

Redenius’ love of all things 007 eventually led to him collecting vehicles from the Bond films. He began this collection in late 1991 when Redenius and two partners paid $3,000 for a Neptune submarine featured in the 1981 Bond film For Your Eyes Only.

This purchase was the basis for a collection that now includes 42 vehicles from Bond films. Redenius, a longtime resident of St. Anne, Illinois in Kankakee County, now houses most of these vehicles in a secret airplane hangar about an hour outside Chicago city limits.

“It’s not just the Bond cars,” said Redenius. “We own everything from helicopters and boats and motorcycles to jet planes. Having the vehicles based here in the Chicago area is ideal because we are centrally located and it is easier to ship vehicles here from the east or west.”

This illustrious collection, valued at around $15 million, is now owned by the Ian Fleming Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 1992 by Redenius and his two partners – American producer/screenwriter John Cork and Dr. Michael VanBlaricum – was founded. a graduate of the University of Illinois working in the engineering field in the Los Angeles area.

Dedicated to researching and preserving the literary works of Bond creator Ian Fleming, the foundation is presenting its 007 film vehicles for charitable purposes only. For example, the Bond vehicle display will be used to fund an undergraduate research grant fund for the University of Illinois Media Department.

“We have about 20 volunteers working with us to restore the vehicles,” Redenius said. “None of the volunteers, none of us on the board earn a salary. We live on donations.”

Currently, many of the vehicles are on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles in an exhibit called Bond In Motion. The exhibition also celebrates the 30th anniversary of the founding of the foundation.

“We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary as the Bond film franchise celebrates its 60th anniversary – the first Bond film was ‘Dr. No’ in 1962. And the first Bond novel was Fleming’s ‘Casino Royale’ which was published 70 years ago. So we celebrate a lot of anniversaries.”

The Foundation’s charitable work with the Bond film vehicles is authorized by both the estate of Ian Fleming and the estate of longtime Bond film producer Cubby Broccoli. And Redenius, who is also an archivist for the Ian Fleming Foundation, is responsible for locating the vehicles.

Many of these vehicles are instantly recognizable to Bond fans. These include the bright green jaguar featured in Die Another Day (2002) in a memorable ice chase; two Polaris snowmobiles in a chase through the French Alps in The World Is Not Enough (1999); a recently acquired jet featured in a legendary aerial combat scene in Goldfinger (1964); and the most prized vehicle in the collection, a Lotus submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). This submarine car is worth $1 million, Redenius said.

“It’s my favorite in the collection,” said Redenius.

Redenius, who spent much of his adult life as a postal worker in Kankakee County, was never blessed with unlimited funds to buy these Bond vehicles. But he didn’t need large sums of money to acquire most of the vehicles, which were often discarded by film producers after filming was completed.

“Once we got established, people started guessing where we could find some of these vehicles after their films were done,” Redenius said.

The jet from “Goldfinger”, for example, was leaked to Redenius last year. “It was decommissioned and scrapped in 1988,” Redenius said. “I did some research and was able to verify it by its VIN number. Now we are busy for a year to restore it.”

His most notable acquisition, the Lotus submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me, was perhaps Redenius’ smartest acquisition.

“I found this vehicle in a junkyard in the Bahamas, abandoned by the producers,” Redenius recalled.

In addition to the Bond vehicles, Redenius also owned other non-transport related Bond memorabilia, which he began collecting in 1980. He ended up owning over 18,000 Bond-related items before selling that collection in 2011.

Now the 66-year-old Redenius is only concentrating on the Bond vehicles.

“I still like doing it,” he said. “The hunt and procurement (of the vehicles), that’s what really excites me.” Chicago native Doug Redeniu collects James Bond 007 vehicles for charity

Russell Falcon

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