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AUTO Stories: 100 years of Aston Martin History – between bankruptcy and One-77

Aston Martin, one of the car brands that identifies itself with the premium segment in the UK, celebrated in January 100 years of existence, and we would like to dedicate this article to Aston Martin’s History.

For Aston Martin, the car brand favored by James Bond, 100 years seems to be a long time. A long life of a man. But for many car brands that surround us, this is the figure at which their entire history summarizes to. The car is a relatively recent invention at this 100 years that it has. But we’re used with it so much, that it seems to be part of our lives since forever.

aston martin history car

Aston Martin – The Story

On the list of the car brands that have turned a hundred years of history, we also have a fresh big name from the UK. A brand synonymous with elegance, power, luxury and James Bond. Yes, you guessed it right, it is Aston Martin. The mark which today can be identified with the slogan: “Power. Beauty. Soul”

One of the best known names in the premium automotive segment in UK passed the threshold of 100 years of history. The brand history has had its ups and downs, with an exciting career in the world of the motorsport and meanwhile it became the favorite car of the world’s most famous secret agent, James Bond.

The beginning of Aston Martin

Bamford & Martin Ltd.

Bamford & Martin Ltd. – Singer

Everything began on January 15, 1913, when Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford joined together and created a company to sell Singer brand cars. The used name was originally Bamford & Martin Ltd. A year later, the name will be changed to Aston Martin. The reason was the success of Lionel Martin at the coastal speed race held at Aston Hill in Buckinghamshire. The success convinced them to build their own cars and sell them under the Aston Martin brand. In 1915, the first Aston Martin car was ready for sale. To create it, the two men used a four-cylinder Coventry-Simplex mounted on an Isotta-Fraschini chassis. This quickly got the nickname Coal Scuttle.

Coal Scuttle - Aston martin

1915 Aston Martin Coal Scuttle

1915 Aston Martin Coal Scuttle

1915 Aston Martin Coal Scuttle

The production was delayed by the outbreak of World War I, but in 1920 they moved their business to Kensigton and a new model was designed and putted into production. Robert Bamford leaves the company so the business needs some help. It’s revitalized with the money received from the Count Louis Zborowski. There have been produced approximately 55 units, but the company enters into financial trouble and goes bankrupt in 1924.

The company is bought by Lady Charnwood, but goes bankrupt again in 1925, the plant being closed in 1926. Lionel Martin leaves the business, which is saved in the last moment by a group of investors at the end of 1926. They renamed it Aston Martin Motors Company Limited and restarts it from zero. Bill Renwick and Bertelli Bert are the names of the ones that brought the revival of the brand. Between 1926 and 1937, Bertelli was the technical director and the designer for all the Aston Martin models created. These includes models like T-Type, International, Le Mans MkII. Most of the cars were two-seater convertibles and many of them had a dedicated motorsport version. Bertelli was a good pilot and Aston Martin had interesting results at Le Mans and Mille Miglia in his time of living.

The financial problems reappeared in 1932. The company was rescued by L. Prideaux Brune and then by Sir Arthur Sutherland. In 1936, the company focuses only on the street cars production, over 700 units being produced until World War II stopped the production. During the war, Aston Martin has produced components for the British aircraft.

Aston Martin History – David Brown’s era

david brown - aston martin history

Aston Martin History – David Brown Era

In 1947, David Brown bought Aston Martin Limited and the Lagonda brand as well. Sir David Brown unites the two brands using all his resources to start the creation of the DB models. DB2 was announced in 1950, followed by the DB2 / 4, DB2 / 4 Mk2, Mk3 and the already very famous DB4, whose body was drawn in Italy.

Aston Martin DB 2

Aston Martin History – DB2

Aston Martin DB 2 photo

Aston Martin DB2

Then it followed DB5 (1963),DB6 (1965-1970) and DBS (1967-1972).

Aston Martin History – Financial problems

In 1970, there once again followed financial problems, so the Aston Martin owner changed again. The company was sold to Company Developments, a consortium owned by William Wilson from Birmingham. There followed a long and complicated story of changing the  owners through whose hands the Aston Martin brand passed. Bought for just £1 million by an U.S. businessman in 1975, Aston Martin revives for a period, hiring 360 new workers. Aston Martin launches models such as the V8 Vantage (1977), the convertible Volante (1978) and a futuristic Lagonda sedan.

Aston Martin Vantage 1970

Aston Martin History – 1970 Aston Martin Vantage

The 80’s bring back the financial problems due to the difficult economic climate and trying to buy MG proves to be uninspired. Although the acquisition never took place eventually, a new bankruptcy was hanging over Aston Martin. The salvation came from Victor Gauntlett. The new owner of the brand is a joint venture formed by Pace Petroleum and CH Industrials.

  • Gauntlett was also involved in the marketing segment, managing to sell Lagonda sedan in Oman, and then, in the mid 80’s, to attract new funds to support the British brand. He renegotiated the return of the mark next to James Bond on the big screen in the movie where the secret agent was played by Timothy Dalton. He even sent at the footage his personal car, a pre-production Vantage.

Aston Martin History Photos

Aston Martin History – The Ford Era

Aston Martin DB7

Aston Martin History – Aston Martin DB7

But the company needed a long term plan, and this came from Ford. In 1991, Aston Martin entered under the umbrella of the great giant Ford, which was part of the Premier Automotive Group division. Here were grouped brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. In 1993, Aston Martin launches the DB7 model, re-inventing the famous DB logo. The design of the new model is signed  by Ian Callum.

Ulrich Bez - Aston Martin History

Dr. Ulrich Bez, the man who took Aston Martin into the modern era

Since 2000, next to Aston comes Dr. Ulrich Bez and his name is now identified with the British brand. Dr Bez was and is the President and the CEO of Aston Martin, and he succeded in his mission to bring this classic name in modern times. During the reign of Bez, Aston launched the V12 Vanquish and the Aston models returned to the James Bond films, this time at the wheel being Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day and Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.

The love story of Ford and Aston Martin lasted until 2006, when the first signs of the global crises have led the Ford officials to sell the entire division of premium cars.

Aston Martin History – David Richards Era

David Richards

David Richards, (upper right) with the consortium that bought Aston Martin from Ford group.

In 2007 begins the David Richards era. Richards is a familiar name for the motorsport enthusiasts, being the owner of Prodrive, who was in charge of the Subaru’s team destinies in the World Rally Championship and then those of the Mini brand, also in the WRC. He was involved even in Formula 1, with BAR and Benetton teams, being a weighty name in the automotive world in the Kingdom. Richards managed to gather a consortium of businessmen from United States and Kuwait which bought Aston Martin from Ford for 475 million pounds.

Today, Aston seems more vibrant than ever. Its models are highly desirable among those with money and very special editions, such as Aston Martin One-77, created a high level of attraction for the luxury brand. Aston Martin also attacked again the strong sedan segment with the Rapide model, but also the automotive city, with the controversial Cygnet, which is actually a Toyota IQ with the Aston Martin logo. But Aston remains famous for the coupe models like Vantage, DB9, Vanquish and Zagato.


Aston Martin and James Bond

We can not conclude without mentioning the collaboration that influenced massive the destiny of the British brand Aston Martin. For most of us, Aston is the car of James Bond, the most famous secret agent from the movies. In the first James Bond film, “Dr. No” in 1962, Sean Connery drove a Sunbeam Alpine. Aston Martin makes its appearance only in the third part of the franchise, along with the famous DB5.

This model has become synonymous with James Bond, being used later in five other films, including the latest, recently released, “Skyfall”.  James Bond used an Aston Martin DBS in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, a V8 Vantage Volante in “The Living Daylights” and in the modern times a V12 Vanquish in “Die Another Day” and a DBS V12 in “Casino Royale” and “Quatum of Solace”.

Aston Martin Db5 Sean Connery

Aston Martin DB5 with Sean Connery

Aston Martin History – 100 years of Existence

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