Saturday, April 21, 2007

A little bit about Aston Martins

Named for a famous (at the time) hill climb race (think Pike's Peak) the Aston Hill Climb.
Keep in mind that this was around 1913. Vehicles were still so fundamental and unproven that sales were largely due to winning endurance races, races set up by the rich, for other rich people to participate in and have fun with, and the cars were just a tool to gain bragging rights among the elite circles.. .. in America it was Vanderbilts and so on... as only the fabulously wealthy could afford such toys.

So named partly for the hill climbing race, and partly for one of the two founding fathers Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The two had partnered up to sell and service cars by Singer, GMK, and Calthorpe. Their first Aston Martin was made in 1915, but never got into production due to WW1. Incidentally stopping the car making before it got off the ground, and ironically, then all the manufacturing machinery was sold to Sopwith Aviation Company (who are well known for Snoopy's famous Sopwith Camel), and a fine airplane it was.

After the close of WW1, the company went back in business, setting speed and endurance records, but with very limited production, and rich enough buyers in post WW1 England, it went bankrupt in 1924, and 1925.

Bamford left in 1920, Martin in 1926.

In 1947 David Brown bought the company, and there-after the models were named DB this and DB that. Yeah, I didn't know that either. Huh. Trivia, cool stuff. In 1972 it was again in financial woes, and sold of to financiers who intended to profit... yeah, right.

It was sold time and again, 1972, 1975, 1980, 1983, 1984, and in 1987 a coincidental meeting between a financier owner and a friend of his at Ford England, brought up the brilliant idea of Ford buying 75% of the eternally struggling company, and so it passed to Ford's majority ownership , which became total when the last 25% was acquired from Victor Gauntlett, the chairman at the 1987 to 1993 era.

Now at 100% ownership, Ford ramped up investment, manufacturing, and production. Keep in mind that Ford owned Jaguar as well, and the experience of all the techs, engineers, and management came into fruition to make both Aston Martin and Jaguar and Ford do very well in the competitive world of high tech, high speed, high value, high profitability luxury cars.

Ford found that losing all the automobile business to rivals GM and Toyota was putting it in the red, and sold a majority share of Aston Martin in March 2007, to a financial consortium of 2 Kuwaiti investment companies and a Aston Martin collector, and the chairman of Prodrive... a racing orientated company that in heavily involved in the World Rally Championship, other rally races, and touring car races.

So why all my sudden interest? A very awesome new magazine called Octane had a marvelous feature on Aston Martins.

Other info from

Answer to the previous posting "What is it?" 1978 Aston Martin V8 Vantage