Aston Martin

From Academic Kids

Aston Martin logo

Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. is a manufacturer of luxury automobiles. Up to the year 2003, a total of approximately 20,200 cars had been built by Aston Martin.



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Aston Martin Ulster 1937
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1965 Aston Martin DB5 coupe

Aston Martin was founded in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The two had joined together the previous year to sell cars made by Singer. Martin raced specials at the Aston Hill Hillclimb near Aston Clinton, and the pair decided to make their own vehicles. They acquired premises in Chelsea, London and produced their first car in March 1915.

The company name was derived from Aston Hill and Lionel Martin.

After the war hiatus, the company was revitalised with funding from Count Louis Zborowski. In 1922, it produced cars to compete in the French Grand Prix, and set world speed and endurance records at Brooklands. Lionel Martin left in 1925; the following year, a number of rich investors, including Lord Charnwood, took control of the company as Aston Martin Motors, and moved the firm to new premises in Feltham. The 1929 Aston Martin International was another successful racer and was followed by the Le Mans and the Ulster. In 1936, the company, now owned by Sir Arthur Sutherland, decided to concentrate on road cars. The advent of World War II halted work, and the company languished throughout the war's duration.

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 in that year, and both companies shared resources and workshops. In 1954, David Brown bought the current Newport Pagnell site, 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 DB3 in 1957, and in the Italian-styled 3.7L 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 with the popular DB5 in 1963. The company continued developing the 'grand touring' style through the DB6 (1965–70) and the DBS and DBS V8 (1967–72), later renamed the Vantage.

1968 Aston Martin DBS Vantage.
1968 Aston Martin DBS Vantage.

Despite popular appreciation of Aston Martin cars, the company often was financially troubled. In 1972, it was bought by a Birmingham-based consortium, and then, in 1975, by the North American businessmen Peter Sprague and George Minden. The American owners pushed the company into modernising its line, producing the V8 Vantage in 1977, the convertible Volante in 1978, and the one-off William Towns-styled Bulldog in 1980. These changes, especially the Bulldog, were unsuccessful, and, in 1981, the Americans sold out to CH Industrial, who themselves gave up to Automotive Investments in 1983, and who, in turn, lasted barely a year before selling the company to Peter Livanos and Victor Gauntlett. In 1986, the Ford Motor Company purchased 75 per cent of the company, and the ownership pass-the-parcel slowed.

In 1988, the company finally retired the ancient V8 (having produced some 5,000 cars in twenty years) and introduced the Virage range. In 1992, the Vantage was announced, and the following year the company renewed the DB range by announcing the DB7. In 1993, Ford finally bought Victor Gauntlett's shares and took full control of the firm, placing it in the Ford Premier Automotive Group. Ford substantially invested in new manufacturing and quickly ramped-up production. In 1995, the company produced a record 700 vehicles, and in 1998 the 2,000th DB7 was built, and in 2002 the 6,000—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.

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2004 Aston Martin DB9 coupe.
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DB AR1 roadster

2003 was a significant year for Aston Martin. At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., Aston Martin introduced the new AMV8 Vantage concept car. Expected to have few changes before its introduction in 2005, the new AMV8 Vantage brings back the classic V8 engine and will allow the company to compete in a larger market. The year also saw the opening of the Gaydon factory, the first purpose-built shop in Aston Martin's history. Also introduced in 2003, was the new DB9 coupé, which replaces the ten-year-old DB7. A convertible version of the DB9, known as the DB9 Volante, was introduced at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show.

In December 2003, Aston Martin announced they would return to motor racing in 2005. A new division was created, called Aston Martin Racing, who will be responsible, together with Prodrive, for the design, development, and management of the DBR9 program. The DBR9 will compete in the GT class in sports car races including the world-famous 24 hours of Le Mans.

Astons on film

The very British glamour of Aston Martin cars meant they were a natural choice for the James Bond series of action films, notably the silver DB5 that appears in Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965) as James Bond's company car, and then in GoldenEye (1995) as his private car. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) there appears, for a short time, a charcoal grey DBS. After an interlude with Lotus, Aston Martins were again used, a charcoal grey Volante in The Living Daylights (1987), and, after another hiatus, the Vanquish appeared in Die Another Day (2002). In early 2004, Henrik Fisker, Design Director at Aston Martin, revealed that James Bond will be driving the new AMV8 Vantage for Bond's next adventure in 2006.

The Italian Job (1969) features a silver DB4 Convertible, owned by crook Charlie Croker, played by Michael Caine. Later, this car is destroyed in a Mafia ambush, along with a pair of E-type Jaguars. The cars were meant to serve as getaway vehicles in the subsequent robbery "in case anything goes wrong". The gang decide to proceed despite this loss, and the question of what happens if anything goes wrong is pointedly ignored by Croker. In the 2003 remake with the same title, the character Handsome Rob, played by Jason Statham, ends up driving an Aston Martin Vanquish.

See also: List of Formula One constructors





Race Cars

Toy Models

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Corgi model car- Aston Martin DB5 (new version)

Aston Martin has also had a presence in the toy industry; one of the most famous toy cars ever was the Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB5, pictured here. First released in 1965 and then re-released some years later, it has provided many generations of children with a taste of the Aston Martin legend.

External links

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