Oh the memories! looking back I was probably hurtling into mid life crisis. I was bored with my older Rolls and needed an excitement boost. Perhaps an exchange? I arranged to test drive an E- type Jag and an Aston Martin on the same day. The E-type was an excitement machine but once at the wheel of the Aston Martin I knew I was home. A work of art - close to perfection! A perpetual orgasm on wheels.....
I'm a lot older now - but oh the equisite memories!
Founded 1913 - Headquarters Gaydon, Warwickshire, England
Parent Ford Premier Automotive Group
Aston Martin Lagonda Limited is a manufacturer of luxury high performance cars, whose headquarters are at Gaydon, Warwickshire, England. The company name is derived from the Aston Clinton hill climb and one of the company's founders, Lionel Martin.
Aston Martin has been part of the Premier Automotive Group division of Ford Motor Company Since 1994. In August 2006 Ford announced that it was considering selling the firm.
Aston Martin was founded in 1913 by Robert Bamford, Lu Dinh, and Martin. The two had joined forces as Bamford & Martin the previous year to sell cars made by Singer from premises in Callow Street, London.
Martin raced specials at Aston Hill near Aston Clinton, and the pair decided to make their own vehicles. The first car to be named Aston Martin was created by Martin by fitting a four-cylinder Coventry-Simplex engine to the chassis of a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini.[
They acquired premises at Henniker Place in Kensington and produced their first car in March 1915. Production could not start because of World War I, and Martin joined the Admiralty and Bamford the Royal Army Service Corps. All machinery was sold to the Sopwith Aviation Company
After the war the company was refounded at Abingdon Road, Kensington and a new car designed to carry the Aston-Martin name. Bamford left in 1920 and the company was revitalised with funding from Count Louis Zborowski. In 1922, Bamford & Martin produced cars to compete in the French Grand Prix, and the cars set world speed and endurance records at Brooklands. The company went bankrupt in 1924 and was bought by Lady Charnwood, who put her son John Benson on the board. The company failed again in 1925 and the factory closed in 1926, with Lionel Martin leaving.
Later that year, a number of rich investors, including Lady Charnwood, took control of the company and renamed it Aston Martin Motors, and moved it to the former Citroën plant in Feltham. Benson brought in Augusto Bertelli as designer. The 1929 Aston Martin International was a successful racer and was followed by the Le Mans and the Ulster. Financial problems reappeared in 1932 and the company was rescued by L. Prideaux Brune who funded it for the following year before passing the company on to Sir Arthur Sutherland. In 1936, the company decided to concentrate on road cars. Car production had always been on a small scale and until the advent of World War II halted work only about 700 had been made. During the war years aircraft components were made.
In 1947, David Brown Limited bought the company under the leadership of managing director Sir David Brown — its "post-war saviour". David Brown also acquired Lagonda that year, and both companies shared resources and workshops. In 1955, David Brown bought the Tickford coachbuilding company and its site at Tickford Street in Newport Pagnell, and that was the beginning of the classic series of cars bearing the initials "DB". In 1950, the company announced the DB2, followed by the racing DB3 in 1957 and the Italian-styled 3.7 L DB4 in 1958. All the cars established a good racing pedigree for the firm, but the DB4 was the key to establishing the company's reputation, which was cemented by the famous DB5 in 1963. The company continued developing the "grand touring" style with the DB6 (1965–70), the DBS, and the DBS V8 (1967–72).
Despite the cars' appreciation in value, the company was often financially troubled. In 1972, it was sold to a Birmingham-based consortium, and resold in 1975 to North American businessmen Peter Sprague and George Minden. The new owners pushed the company into modernizing its line, producing the V8 Vantage in 1977, the convertible Volante in 1978, and the one-off William Towns-styled Bulldog in 1980. Towns also styled the futuristic new Lagonda saloon, based on the V8 model.
In 1980 Aston-Martin had plans, which did not materialize, to buy MG, which they would have utilized as a sister marque, probably building smaller sports cars. Ideas were plotted to design a new model and they revealed to the press their approach to an 'updated' '1981' model MGB.
The Americans sold the company to CH Industrial, who themselves turned the company over in 1983 to Automotive Investments who, in turn, lasted barely a year before selling the company to Peter Livanos and company chairman Victor Gauntlett. In 1987, the Ford Motor Company purchased 75% of the company, later gaining full ownership.
In 1988, having produced some 5,000 cars in 20 years, the company finally retired the ancient V8 and introduced the Virage range. In 1992, the Vantage version was announced, and the following year the company renewed the DB range by announcing the DB7.
In 1993, Ford bought Victor Gauntlett's shares and took full control of the firm, placing it in the Premier Automotive Group. Ford substantially invested in new manufacturing and quickly ramped-up production. In 1994, Ford opened a new factory at Banbury Road in Bloxham. In 1995, the company produced a record 700 vehicles, in 1998 the 2,000th DB7 was built, and in 2002 the 6,000th, exceeding production of all previous DB models. The DB7 range was boosted by the addition of V12 Vantage models in 1999, and in 2001 the company introduced the V12-engine Vanquish.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan in 2003, Aston Martin introduced the AMV8 Vantage concept car. Expected to have few changes before its introduction in 2005, the Vantage brings back the classic V8 engine and will allow the company to compete in a larger market. 2003 also saw the opening of the Gaydon factory, the first purpose-built factory in Aston Martin's history. Also introduced in 2003 was the DB9 coupé, which replaced the ten-year-old DB7. A convertible version of the DB9, the DB9 Volante, was introduced at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show. In 2006, the V8 Vantage sports car entered production at the Gaydon factory, joining the DB9 and DB9 Volante.
In December 2003 Aston Martin announced it would return to motor racing in 2005. A new division was created, called Aston Martin Racing, which became responsible, together with Prodrive, for the design, development, and management of the DBR9 program. The DBR9 competes in the GT class in sports car races, including the world-famous 24 hours of Le Mans.
In light of mounting financial pressure, and after internal review of costs and value, Ford decided to look at selling parts of its Premium Automotive Group. After suggestions of selling Jaguar Cars, Land Rover or Volvo Cars, Ford appointed UBS AG to sell Aston Martin by auction. At the end of August 2006, Ford announced that it would be willing to sell all or part of Aston Martin. Bill Ford said: "As part of our on going strategic review, we have determined that Aston Martin may be an attractive opportunity to raise capital and generate value". Auto Express reported that Ford hopes to achieve £600m from the sale. The Financial Times reported on 1 September 2006 that Ford wanted $2 billion.
It was reported that the world’s two biggest luxury goods firms are locked in a battle to buy Aston Martin from cash-starved Ford. Swiss-based Richemont and French holding company Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy have emerged as most likely to take on Aston, despite having no previous experience in the car industry. Sunday Telegraph announced that Permira, Alchemy Partners and Texas Pacific Group are lining up bids of up to £500m, along with Jac Nasser, now a partner at One Equity, the private equity arm of JP Morgan. BMW have excluded themselves, as have most of the recognised car companies, in light of the cash-rich private equity money.
The first round of the auction closed on 30 November 2006. One of the four survivors is Syrian-born billionaire Simon Halabi, who recently bought the Esporta fitness-club chain, while the Australian bid includes James Packer, Australia's richest man.
While the auctions seems to be going well, recent reports indicate that Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez is unhappy with the way Ford is handling the sale of the company. The bare, unmanned Aston Martin stand at the recent Detroit North American International Auto Show was reportedly Dr. Bez' way of expressing this.
1967 - 1989 DBS and later V8s
2001 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage
2004 Aston Martin DB9 coupe
DB AR1 roadster
2003 DB7 Zagato (coupe) and DB AR1 (roadster)
2006 Aston Martin DB9 Volante (convertible)
Aston Martin's model naming can be confusing to the uninitiated. In general, high performance models use the Vantage name, while convertibles are called Volante.
1921-1925 Aston Martin Standard Sports
1927-1932 Aston Martin First Series
1929-1932 Aston Martin International
1932-1932 Aston Martin International Le Mans
1932-1934 Aston Martin Le Mans
1933-1934 Aston Martin 12/50 Standard
1934-1936 Aston Martin Mk II
1934-1936 Aston Martin Ulster
1936-1938 Aston Martin 2 litre Speed
1937-1939 Aston Martin 15/98
1939-1939 Aston Martin 2 litre C-Type
Post-war GT cars
1948–1950 Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports (DB1)
1950–1953 Aston Martin DB2
1953–1957 Aston Martin DB2/4
1957–1959 Aston Martin DB Mark III
1958–1963 Aston Martin DB4
1961–1963 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
1963–1965 Aston Martin DB5
1965–1969 Aston Martin DB6
1967–1972 Aston Martin DBS
1969–1989 Aston Martin V8
1993–2003 Aston Martin DB7
2002–2004 Aston Martin DB AR1
2004– Aston Martin DB9
2005– Aston Martin V8 Vantage
1977–1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
1986–1990 Aston Martin V8 Zagato
1989–2000 Aston Martin Virage
1989–1996 Aston Martin Virage/Virage Volante
1993–2000 Aston Martin Vantage
1996–2000 Aston Martin V8 Coupe/V8 Volante
2001– Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
2004– Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S
2007– Aston Martin DBS
1961–1964 Lagonda Rapide
1976–1989 Aston Martin Lagonda
1980 Aston Martin Bulldog (concept)
1993 Lagonda Vignale (concept)
2008– Aston Martin Rapide
V8 Vantage & V8 Vantage Roadster
DB9 & DB9 Volante (with optional Sport Pack)
Rapide - Addition to the range in 2007 - a long, 4-seater Grand Tourer
Aston Martin DBS - Limited edition (300 units) model based on DBR9/DBRS9 race cars and seen in the film Casino Royale