Ris­ing to the chal­lenge

VANTAGE - - Viewpoint - Richard Meaden, edi­tor

MOTORSPORT HAS AL­WAYS BEEN an in­te­gral part of what As­ton Martin is about. In­deed, it was suc­cess at the As­ton Hill Climb near As­ton Clin­ton in leafy Buck­ing­hamshire that in­spired founders Lionel Martin and Robert Bam­ford to name their nascent car com­pany As­ton Martin.

Of the mar­que’s rac­ing ac­tiv­i­ties over the past cen­tury or so, en­durance rac­ing – and Le Mans in par­tic­u­lar – sits at the core. With fa­mously fluc­tu­at­ing fi­nances, As­ton has never had the cash or re­sources to com­mit to a sus­tained large-scale ef­fort in the man­ner of, say, Porsche. Yet when­ever As­tons go rac­ing, they cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion and punch above their weight. Some­times they reign supreme.

In this is­sue of Van­tage – pub­lished just a few weeks be­fore the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours – we fea­ture two of As­ton Martin’s com­pe­ti­tion heroes: a mag­nif­i­cent DB2 ‘team car‘ from 1951 and the 2016 World En­durance Cham­pi­onship class-win­ning V8 Van­tage GTE. The for­mer is very much a road car op­ti­mised for rac­ing, the lat­ter very much a racer loosely based on the road car, yet both ex­ude star qual­ity. The sort that can only be forged in the heat of bat­tle.

Sports cars and mo­tor rac­ing go hand-in-hand, but there’s a less pre­dictable side to As­ton Martin. One that re­veals a long-es­tab­lished urge to ex­plore new and un­con­ven­tional av­enues. To­day that is epit­o­mised by the bold, ex­cit­ing and con­tro­ver­sial DBX SUV set for pro­duc­tion in St Athan, Wales, but we’ve dug into the ar­chives to tell the fas­ci­nat­ing story of an­other As­ton SUV; a se­cret, still­born 4x4 project that dates back to the days of David Brown.

At a time when the car in­dus­try is con­stantly hav­ing to adapt to a rapidly chang­ing world, it’s re­as­sur­ing to know that As­ton Martin’s en­dur­ing will to win is matched by an ap­petite for new chal­lenges, wher­ever they may lie.

The next is­sue of Van­tage will be on sale on Septem­ber 14, 2017. For subscriptions and back is­sues visit www.as­ton­magazine.co.uk

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