20 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT Aston Martin
Most car enthusiasts will agree that Aston Martin cars are true works of art, as much as brilliant engineering. Nevertheless, the company suffered serious financial problems and challenges throughout its history. However, unlike any other company, the British automaker always faced difficulties with dignity and patience of a real English gentleman. It seems that Aston Martin managed to do the things, other automakers could only dream of: the company combined traditional hand-made craftsmanship with a cutting edge technology. Aston Martin models merge elegant, sophisticated design of an extravagant luxury vehicle with an incredible power and a speed of a sports car. Aston Martin, ladies and gentlemen, 20 amusing facts of history.
1. The famous British automobile manufacturer was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The company built its first car in 1914. This vehicle was named Aston Martin, since Lionel Martin was a passionate driver and scored his very first victory at Aston Hill near Aston Clinton in 1913.
2. In 1919 the company presented the next model of Aston Martin. Its production began in January 1920 in the new workshop on Abington Road, London, in the former Henniker stables.
3. Very soon, the company gained experience and prestige by participated in different motorsports events, including Brooklands, Le Mans and Mille Miglia. Unfortunately, a tragedy stroke in 1924, when a long-time company’s patron and financial supporter Count Louis Zborowski died in a car accident during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The company went bankrupt and was bought by an engineer W.S. Renwick. The new owner was responsible for the creation of 1,5-litre engines, which were used on Aston Martin cars until 1936.
4. The Aston Martin Atom was built in 1939. Designed by the company’s lead engineer Claud Hill, this prototype was a front-wheel-drive saloon (sedan) with unitary construction and transmission with advanced switching speeds by Cotal. This car created a furore at the London Motor Show in 1940. But unfortunately, the World War II period was not the best time for car sales.
5. In 1947 the company was bought by Sir David Brown. It is believed, that he made a decision to buy the company after driving the Aston Martin Atom. David Brown is responsible for a creation of the famous Aston Martin DB models. The Atom prototype became the basis for the first Aston Martin DB model.
6. The Aston Martin DB-2 debuted in 1950. The sports car with a 2,6-litres engine became quite successful in many motorsports competitions for 3-litres class.
7. In 1947 David Brown bought the Aston Martin and Lagonda companies and incorporated them as Aston Martin Lagonda Limited. At that time, many company directors, including David Brown dreamed to win the most prestigious rally, 24 hours of Le Mans. In 1959 those dreams came true, when Aston Martin factory team won the famous competition.
8. The company tried to enter the glorious world of Formula One Garand Prix the same year, in 1959. However, Aston Martin Formula One cars just were not very successful, and the company decided to close the project.
9. 1959 was a very eventful year for the British automaker; the Aston Martin DB-4 was presented to the public the same year. Powered by a 3.7 engine, a double overhead cam straight-6, with a cylinder head and a block of cast R.R.50 aluminium alloy, the car could reach the top speed of 250 km/h. This vehicle was a real supercar of its time.
Aston Martin offered several modifications of the DB series. The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was a sports car version of popular series, lightened and improved by the Zagato factory in Italy. The initial plan to produce twenty-five cars was cancelled, with only nineteen cars left the factory. All nineteen DB4 GT Zagato survived to our days.
9. In 1963, the further development of DB series led to a debut of Aston Martin DB 5.
This model was an evolution of the final series of DB4. It was powered by a 4-litres 282 h/p engine. The car become famous after its appearance in one of the James Bond movies.
In 1965, the Aston Martin DB 6 arrived. It combined the classical Aston Martin design with a comfort of four-seater vehicle. This model was a strong competitor for other luxury vehicles of its time. From now on, the Aston Martin became the most favourite car brand of James Bond – the famous British agent 007.
10. While Aston Martin models were unquestionably very good cars, it was hard for them to compete with strong Ferrari and Maserati brands. The British company had to come up with models that could compete with famous Italian brands. The further development of the DB series led to creation of DBS and DBS Vantage. The main feature of those models was a straight-six engine, that was later replaced by an amazing aluminium alloy V-8 engine with engine power of 340 – 450 h/p.
11. Yet another period in Aston Martin history began in 1972. Sir David Brown sold the British car manufacturer to a new owner – Company Development Ltd.; thus all classical Aston Martin DB models were discontinued. Struggling with the results of the economic crisis, the new management was seriously considering an option to liquidate the legendary British company. This uncertain state lasted for 6 years and seriously hindered the automaker.
12. While struggling with the crisis throughout 70s, the British automaker nevertheless, managed to produce a limed series of sports cars. During those period, Aston Martin used the Vantage brand for its coupe models and Volante brand for cabriolet. They all were powered by a 5,3-litre V-8 engine with 340 or 390 h/p. Those vehicles were equipped with new features, including a direct injection system and an American-made automatic gearbox.
13. The Aston Martin Lagonda was built by Aston Martin between 1974 and 1990. The Lagonda combined a striking wedge-shaped styling with an impressive engineering. The luxury four-door saloon was powered by a 5.3-litre V-8 engine with 390 h/p under its wedge-shaped motor hood. It was equipped with a Chrysler 3-speed “Torque Flite” automatic transmission.
14. Aston Martin was facing financial pressure in the mid-1970s and up to 90s. The company was in constant need of funds. During this period, the British automaker managed to produse only limited number of exclusive vehicles. Aston Martin was constantly changing its owner. However neither of them could deal with financial troubles the company was going through.
15. Things changed in the late 80s, when company was bought by Ford Motor Company. This change was for the best, as the sales of Aston Martin grown drastically: from previous hundred cars a year to the record seven hundred in 1995. In 1993, the new Aston Martin DB-7, a grand tourer, powered by a 335 h/p v-6 engine, was presented to the public. With this model, the legendary “DB” designation was brought back to life, promising the Aston Martin’s rebirth.
16. The vehicle production almost has not changed since the creation of the company. The assembling process is carried out in small hangars without the use of modern technologies. The Ford decided not to change the tradition and do not install automated assembly lines. Still, Aston Martin has been a heavy burden for the Ford.
17. In 2007, the Ford Motor Company sold Aston Martin to a consortium of investors, led by a Prodrive chairman David Richards, a long-time appreciator and collector of Aston Martin. The company went for $925 m.
18. The Aston Martin’s models, are still assembled by hand, and thus produced in very limited series by today’s standards. Currently, the production capacity of British manufacturer is estimated around 300 automobiles per year. Every Aston Martin craftsman will mark a vehicle with his personal brand, after the assembly is finished.
19. A quite amusing story happened, when the company’s management decided to come up with a rather creative way to meet the European emission standards. As in 2010, the emissions were calculated for the entire model line-up, rather than individual models. With that in mind, super GT maker Aston Martin announced the world’s first super luxury supermini. Toyota iQ, a small city car was rebadged and marketed as the Aston Martin Sygnet. Unfortunately for the company, even the most dedicated aficionados of the famous British marque refused to pay the premium price for a car that was essentially a rebadged Toyota. The Cygnet was cancelled due to disastrously low sales. With only 143 Sygnets built, it was safer to say that the whole project was unsuccessful.
20. The original Aston Martin logo was introduced in 1920. It consisted of interlocking capital A and M letters inside a circle. The classic variant of Aston Martin logo appeared in 1927, when the original ‘AM’ logo was completely dropped. The new symbol consisted of the Aston Martin name immersed within a new wings emblem. The wings emblem was borrowed from Bentley, and was meant to represent speed. The name David Brown was added to company’s logo in 1947, when Aston Martin was bought by David Brown Engineering Limited. It was removed, when company changed its owner. The modern emblem was presented in 2003 and is rather neutral: it consists of iconic wings and the Aston Martin name.