“LIKE SAV­ILE ROW SUITS, VERY FEW AS­TON MARTINS ARE BOUGHT OFF THE RACK; EACH ONE IS TAI­LOR MADE”

Unique Cars - - ASTON MARTIN – FACTORY TOUR -

Af­ter a cof­fee and in­tro­duc­tory chit chat we set off along a row of sig­nif­i­cant As­tons in­clud­ing the DB10 from the last Bond movie

Spec­tre, and the com­pany time­line greeted us on the way to the sealed fac­tory door.

Once in­side, I im­me­di­ately no­ticed a few things. It was very quiet, it was lab­o­ra­tory clean, it was smaller than I ex­pected and best of all, it was full of peo­ple, not ro­bots. Utopia!

While an As­ton’s build is man­aged by a high-tech bar­code sys­tem which can be viewed any­time by its owner any­where in the world, the cars are still es­sen­tially hand-made by 650 ded­i­cated crafts­men and women.

And to en­sure the time­less skills aren’t lost, As­ton Martin works closely with the re­gional tech schools where the trades vi­tal to the con­tin­u­a­tion of As­ton are taught and jobs for the fu­ture cre­ated. A win-win for all.

Like Sav­ile row suits, very few As­ton Martins are bought off the rack; each one is tai­lor made with cus­tomers per­son­al­is­ing in de­tail the fea­tures of their cars. From the pat­tern and colour of the stitch­ing to the other end of the spec­trum, a one-off, ex­clu­sively de­signed car, the only lim­it­ing fac­tors are imag­i­na­tion and bud­get.

On av­er­age, it takes 200 man hours to build an As­ton Martin and to put that into per­spec­tive, Neil Arm­strong took just 109 to land on the moon in 1969.

The chas­sis and bod­ies are a mar­riage of steel, alu­minum, mag­ne­sium and other ex­otics in­clud­ing car­bon fi­bre. Ro­bots bond the pan­els to­gether, though some weld­ing is still un­der­taken.

Each in­te­rior takes 70-hours to com­plete and while some buy­ers are se­lect­ing Al­can­tara trim these days, most stick with leather sourced from Scot­land. It was fas­ci­nat­ing to watch the leather be­ing moulded into place on the seat frames while en­joy­ing the ex­pen­sive aroma of the soft leather.

All hides are graded by zones one through four, de­pend­ing where they were on the an­i­mal. One is the soft­est and four is the coars­est. As­ton Martin only use zone one leathers with up to nine hides needed to com­plete an As­ton Martin Rapide in­te­rior.

Eas­ily the most la­bo­ri­ous el­e­ment of pro­duc­tion is in the paint shop which to­tals 75-hours, of which 25 is re­served for hand pol­ish­ing each car. The end of the paint­ing process in­volves a two-hour in­spec­tion.

ABOVE Floats like a but­ter­fly and st­ings like a bee. As­ton Martin Van­quish.

RIGHT Vis­i­tors are greeted by As­tons new and old.

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