As­ton bows to the in­evitable and does deal with Daim­ler

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - NEWS -

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.

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