BOOM AND BUST

Unique Cars - - ASTON MARTIN – FACTORY TOUR -

AS­TON MARTIN was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bam­ford who joined forces as Bam­ford & Martin to sell Singer cars in Lon­don.

Martin raced spe­cials at As­ton Hill and when they cre­ated their own ve­hi­cle it was named an As­ton Martin to hon­our his rac­ing achieve­ments. But be­fore they could get es­tab­lished in 1915 the de­mands of the first World War 1 saw all their ma­chin­ery sold to the Sop­with Avi­a­tion Com­pany, mak­ers of the Sop­with Camel air­craft. As­ton Martin’s his­tory has been far from a rosy one go­ing bank­rupt on seven oc­ca­sions as the brand passed though many own­ers’ hands. Pro­duc­tion fi­nally com­menced in 1922 with fi­nan­cial aid from Count Louis Zborowski, but by now Bam­ford had left and a to­tal of 55 cars were built be­fore go­ing bust in 1924. As­ton was res­cued by Lady Charn­wood who put her son in charge only for it to fall over again in 1925, with Martin leav­ing in 1926. New in­vestors were found and the brand res­ur­rected for a fur­ther six years be­fore hit­ting the skids again in 1932 and once again another saviour ar­rived to keep things go­ing. Then in 1936, As­ton Martin de­cided to stop com­pet­ing in mo­tor­sport and con­cen­trate on road cars, pro­duc­ing just 700 un­til the out­break of the Sec­ond World War when pro­duc­tion shifted to air­craft com­po­nents. David Brown se­cured the busi­ness in 1947 for £20,000 af­ter spot­ting an ad in the Lon­don Times.

Brown added it to his suc­cess­ful trac­tor busi­ness and it re­mained un­der his own­er­ship un­til the mid 70s when it was sold ow­ing to fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties.

In his time, he cre­ated the leg­endary ‘DB’ As­ton Martins in­clud­ing the Atom, DB1, 2,3,4, and 5 (that ap­peared in James Bond’s Goldfin­ger), and the DB6 and DBS. Iron­i­cally, Brown’s road car was a Se­ries 1 XJ Jaguar.

Ford ac­quired As­ton Martin in 1987 and on-sold it for £475m to a con­sor­tium led by Pro­drive Chair­man David Richards, which in­cluded Amer­i­can bankers and Kuwaiti in­vest­ment firms. Ford also kept a stake in As­ton Martin val­ued at £40m (US$70m). Shortly af­ter ac­quir­ing the busi­ness and to demon­strate and pro­mote the dura­bil­ity of As­ton Martin to the rapidly mo­tor­iz­ing Chi­nese, an east-west cross­ing of the Asian High­way was un­der­taken, with the V8 Van­tage trav­el­ling from Tokyo to Is­tan­bul and on to Lon­don. It was so suc­cess­ful As­ton Martin opened deal­er­ships in Shang­hai and Bei­jing within three months

In 2013 As­ton Martin an­nounced a tech­ni­cal part­ner­ship that would see Mercedes elec­tronic ar­chi­tec­ture, switchgear and en­gines in fu­ture mod­els. The DB11 was the first re­cip­i­ent. In 2017, thanks to the global suc­cess of the all-new DB11, As­ton Martin turned a hand­some profit and is look­ing for­ward to a suc­cess­ful fu­ture and new prod­ucts.

They also won their class at Le Mans this year and have a tie-in with Red Bull F1, for whom Aussie Daniel Ric­cia­rdo drives.

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