Arguably there is never a name more provoking of emotion than Aston Martin when it comes to cars. But why is this? Why do people have such a love for this small British car manufacturer? Is it because of Aston Martin’s racing lineage, or is due to the astonishing good looks that the cars have? Or maybe James Bond and his Aston Martin DB5 that led to such a love for this car brand? Or the high quality reputation and striving for performance is what kept Aston Martin going for so long? One thing is for certain if you look at the history of Aston Martin, they make some very good looking cars.
The story of Aston Martin began in 1913, with 2 friends, Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. They had both been selling cars for a company called Singer for about a year. And in 1913, they both decided that they should begin making their own cars. Martin was a racer, who raced at a place called Aston Hill, near Aston Clinton. Which is in Buckinghamshire, England. The first they made was called the Aston Martin, which is also how the company got its name. The firstAston Martin was essentially the chassis of a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini with a four-cylinder Coventry Simplex engine that Martin and Bamford had put in it.
In 1915, production of the Aston Martin had begun in Kensington. However, production was very slow since the First World War was going on. Both Martin and Bamford answered their nation’s call and joined the military. They also sold all their machinery to Sopwith Aviation Company to help with the war effort. Once the war was over, all that was left of Aston Martin car company was moved to a place called Abington Road. The company was also partially funded by Count Louis Zborowski.
In 1920, Bamford left the company, leaving Martin all on his own to run the operation. By 1922, Aston Martin was making cars to compete in the French Grand Prix. Then Aston Martin began setting world speed records, and endurance records at Brooklands. But it was all to no avail, no one was buying Aston Martins. And because of this the company went bankrupt, was bailed out by Lady Charnwood in 1924, and the company failed again in 1925. By 1926, the factory had shut down and Lionel Martin had left the company.
All seemed lost for a company with such great potential, a company that was known for producing 2-seater sports cars with such high performance. But Lady Charnwood and some more investors came back and revived the company, giving it the official name of Aston Martin Motors. And a new technical director, named Augusta Bertelli, was appointed by the investors to take care of Aston Martin. Bertelli had the mindset of putting racing first for the company, and as a result many of the cars produced during this era were built specifically for racing. Bertelli also raced many of the cars he designed and personally took part in many significant races, including Le Mans.
During this time, Aston Martin was focused on not only racing, but rebuilding its reputation with the consumer. By the time the Second World War started, 700 vehicles had been produced. And if this number seems small compared to other companies, that’s because it is. The reason for why Aston Martin had made so few vehicles compared to its competitors was because Aston Martin was focused on luxury and performance. Not mobilization of the masses. Another important factor was that Aston Martin was in a constant state of being under partial ownership of different shareholders, which would change how things were done by the company. With all this considered, Aston Martin seems to have done well in making the high quality cars that it did.
When the Second World War did arrive, Aston Martin halted production to make aviation related parts to help the war effort. After the war was over, Aston Martin was caught in more financial issues. This time a man named Sir David Brown would buy the company in 1947. By the 1950s, many of the famous DB cars were made under the initials of the owner, David Brown. The DB2 was the first of this series. The DB2 came equipped with a 2.6-liter, straight six engine. In 1951, the Vantage performance package was offered with the DB2. This package was a 3.0-liter, straight six, that produced 125 horsepower.
Aston Martin would continue to make cars based around its racing lineage. And in 1958, Aston Martin began taking inspiration from Italian car design and began to make their cars based around a “grand touring” philosophy. In 1963, an icon was born, the Aston Martin DB5, more commonly known as the James Bond car. This car would make Aston Martin a household name all across the world. This would increase sales, not only of the DB5, but also of the later DB6.
Unfortunately in the 1970s, Aston Martin, like all car manufacturers of the time, was hit hard by the oil crisis. In 1974, Aston Martin sustained another significant blow. In the United States, there were new regulations on the volume of exhaust. And in the states of California, the restrictions were even harsher. Aston Martin could not meet the requirements regarding these new regulations from the states of California and could not sell cars in the state. Now, normally this wouldn’t be a problem, after all it’s just one state. But in the 1970s, California was experiencing a boom in population, and all the car makers were trying to appeal to this boom in population.
So this was a significant hit to the already struggling Aston Martin, causing the company to change ownership once again. This time to American investors Peter Sprague and George Minden. These investors were able to help Aston Martin, and by 1977, the company seemingly turned around. But during the early 1980s, Aston Martin was affected significantly by more financial issues. The man who ran Ford of Europe at the time saw potential in the struggling Aston Martin. And in 1987 Ford bought Aston Martin.
With Ford as the new owner of Aston Martin, the company began focusing on appealing to nostalgic designs. With a particular focus on making cars that were based on those that made the company famous in the first place. And in 2003 Aston Martin announced the innovative car that would be loved by everyone. The Aston Martin DB9. This car went into production in 2004, and would continue as a staple of the Aston Martin brand until 2016. The DB9 captured the racing lineage of Aston Martin’s past when in 2005, it would win the GT1 class at Le Mans.
Ownership changed again, this time in 2007 to a man named David Richards and his investors. Production of the Aston Martin cars were split between more factories, including in Graz, Austria. Aston Martin has also dabbled into the 4-door car market with the Aston Martin Rapide. It has also extended to making other high performance sports cars as well. I also read an article somewhere that claimed that Aston Martin is experimenting with electric vehicles. I’d be interested in reading more about it if y’all know of any articles about it.
I love Aston Martin, and I think their cars are some of the best looking in the world. I would love to learn more about them, please share whatever information if you have it. Thank you for reading.