Aston bows to the inevitable and does deal with Daimler
IT was only so long before Aston Martin had to find an automotive friend in order to move forward into its next 100 years.
The Warwickshire carmaker found some new backers this year but the cost of developing new models runs into hundreds of millions and AM has been making do for too long with updates of old designs. Then there are the new engines it needs to stay competitive in an ecologically conscious world where, nice as they are, thunderously thirsty V8 and V12 engines are dinosaurs.
As 2013 faded away came news we’d expected, with confirmation that Aston Martin Lagonda and Daimler (parent company of Mercedes-Benz) will cooperate on new V8 engines for AML’s next generation of cars. The engines will be made in Germany and provide improved performance and fuel efficiency. Daimler will also supply electrical and electronic components. In return it gets up to five per cent of the company and observer status on the AML Holdings board.
Aston’s last cooperation, building pimped, £30,000 versions of the Toyota iQ, was a flop. The historic English carmaker, which celebrated its centenary this year, faces serious challenges in the rest of the decade. Its best results have come in long-distance racing, with some memorable wins.
Making its own mark in the sand is Twisted, the North Yorkshire firm that tunes and modifies Land Rovers. Its proudest product is the humble Defender workhorse, which it can supply with more power and bespoke bodywork and cabins. Last year it completed around 100 handbuilt Defenders. It moves into much bigger premises in Thirsk next month to meet demand for its Defenders which can cost £75,000.
By 2016 it expects to be doing 300 restorations. Land Rover will build the last Defender towards the end of 2015. Charlie Fawcett, director of Twisted says that customers want the existing Defender, not the new model. “It’s a great problem to have when somebody comes along to collect their brand new £75,000 Twisted Defender, and they start talking about what they’d like to trade it in for in two years’ time.”
TRACK RECORD: Aston Martin Vantage GTE at Le Mans and. top, North Yorkshire’s souped-up workhorse, the Twisted Defender.