About Aston MartinRobert Bamford and Lionel Martin founded what would become Aston Martin in 1913 after acquiring a reputation as tuners of Singer-powered vehicles. The new company's cars were named after the hill climb near Aston Clinton in the Chiltern Hills.
Bamford & Martin Ltd ended in 1922, when Martin bought out Bamford. Money was always tight; the company rarely saw a profit. The cars were hand-built, allowing a high build quality but lengthening production time. But competition racing was going well; in 1924 the team set ten world records at the Brooklands racing circuit. Luckily, there seemed to be a never-ending line of people willing to inject capitol into the firm.
However, Aston Martin did fall into bankruptcy in 1924 and 1926, when the factory was closed.
Martin... View more left the company in 1926. Bill Renwick, Augustus Bertelli, L. Prideaux Brune, and Sir Arthur Sutherland were all involved in running the company prior to World War II. David Brown Limited bought the company, as well as Lagonda, in 1947. The resulting series of cars were named after the managing director, David Brown. By the time the DB5 hit production in 1963, the company had re-established its racing pedigree.
James Bond's impact on the brand is staggering. Six different models have appeared in eleven different Bond films. Beginning in 1964's "Goldfinger" with a 1964 DB5--"The Most Famous Car in the World"--to the DBS V12 in the recent franchise reboot.
The company was sold to Company Developments Ltd in 1972, ending the line of DB models. Further ownership turnover continued until Victor Gauntlett bought 12.5% of the company in 1980. By 1981, he was a 50% owner. Sales reached an all-time-low of 30 units in 1982. Gauntlett engineered an influx of cash by selling some of his share holdings to investors. He bought into design house Zagato in 1984. Negotiating the revival of an Aston Martin/James Bond partnership in 1986, he lent his personal Vantage for use in the filming of "The Living Daylights".
An unusual break in design and styling came in 1980 with The Bulldog. A one-off left-hand drive car built in the U.K., it was intended to be a very limited run. Among the gadgetry were gullwing doors, four separate fuel tanks, and five center mounted headlamps. A top speed of 200 mph was hoped for, but 191 mph was the top speed reached before the program ended. It was closed due to technical delays and aerodynamic lift concerns, but eventually 700 horsepower was developed from the V8, laying the groundwork for future engine construction.
Despite the growing popularity of the brand, future financial stability was a constant concern. A sale to Ford Motor Company was announced in September 1987. The 1988 British Motor Show saw the debut of the first new Aston Martin since 1969. The Virage would add a level of interior comfort and refinement previously unseen from Aston. The DB line was reinstated with the DB7 in 1993. After investing in new manufacturing, it would become Aston's first volume-level production car, eschewing the hand-built methods used since inception.
Ford conducted an internal review in 2006 and decided to divest itself of the Premier Auto Group, which Aston Martin was a charter member. A U.K. group of investors led by David Richards purchased Aston Martin, with Ford maintaining a stake in the company. Richards founded Prodrive, which would become a designer and builder of race cars when Aston Martin reentered motor racing in 2005.
The company has been expanding into vehicle classes previously never ventured. The four door sedan Rapide and micro-car Cygnet rolled into production in 2010 and 2011, respectively. But with high-end high-performance cars like the DBS and Vantage, it's clear the company hasn't forgotten its roots as the producer of high-end sports cars. View less
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