British luxury sports car maker Aston Martin celebrates 100 years of making luxury British sports cars on 15th January 2013 and To celebrate 100 years of Aston Martin, the oldest surviving Aston Martin, a 1921 A3 prototype (the third Aston Martin ever built), is being displayed alongside the company’s latest car, the Vanquish, at the business’s original home in Henniker Mews, Chelsea, London. A commemorative plaque will be unveiled to mark the occasion. The event kicks off a series of celebrations for the brand.
The company was officially incorporated January 15 1913 when Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded Bamford & Martin Ltd. The company was renamed Aston Martin in recognition of Bamford’s success (in the very first Bamford & Martin cars) at the Aston Clinton Hillclimb near Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire.c The two had joined forces as Bamford & Martin the previous year and started out selling cars made by Singer from premises in Callow Street and also servicing GWK and Calthorpe vehicles.The first car to be named Aston Martin was created by Martin by fitting a four-cylinder Coventry-Simplex engine to the chassis of a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini and produced their first car in March 1915. However Production was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, and Martin joined the Admiralty and Bamford the Royal Army Service Corps. All machinery was sold to the Sopwith Aviation Company. After the war, the company was refounded at Abingdon Road, Kensington and a new car designed to carry the Aston-Martin name. Bamford left in 1920. In 1922, Bamford & Martin produced cars to compete in the French Grand Prix, which went on to set world speed and endurance records at Brooklands. Three works Team Cars with 16-valve twin cam engines were built for racing and record breaking. The company went bankrupt in 1924 and was bought by Lady Charnwood, who put her son John Benson on the board. The company failed again in 1925 and the factory closed in 1926, with Lionel Martin leaving.Later that year, Bill Renwick, Augustus (Bert) Bertelli and investors which included Lady Charnwood took control of the company. They renamed it Aston Martin Motors and moved it to the former Whitehead Aircraft Limited works in Feltham. Between 1926 and 1937 Bertelli was both technical director and designer of all new Aston Martins, since known as “Bertelli cars”. They included the 1½-litre “T-type”, “International”, “Le Mans”, “MKII” and its racing derivative, the “Ulster”, and the 2-litre 15/98 and its racing derivative, the “Speed Model”. Most were open two-seater sports cars bodied by Bert Bertelli’s brother Enrico (Harry), with a small number of long-chassis four-seater tourers, dropheads and saloons also produced.
In 1947, David Brown Limited bought the company under the leadership of managing director Sir David Brown—its “post-war saviour”. The company also acquired Lagonda that year for its 2.6-litre W. O. Bentley-designed engine. Both companies shared resources and workshops, birthing the classic “DB” series of cars. In 1950, the company announced the DB2, followed by the DB2/4 in 1953, the DB2/4 MkII in 1955, the DB Mark III in 1957 and the Italian-styled 3.7 L DB4 in 1958.While these models help Aston Martin establish a good racing pedigree, the DB4 stood out and yielded the famous DB5 in 1963. The company stayed true to its emerging “grand touring” style with the DB6 (1965–70), and DBS (1967–1972).The six-cylinder engines of these cars from 1954 up to 1965 were designed by Tadek Marek.
Sadly The Aston Martin company was often financially troubled and In 1972, Aston Martin was sold to Company Developments, a Birmingham-based consortium chaired by William Willson, MBE and was resold in 1975 by its receiver following a further bankruptcy to North American businessmen Peter Sprague and George Minden for £1.05 million.A successful turn-around strategy led to the recruitment of 360 new employees and, by 1977, a trading profit of £750,000. The new 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. Towns also styled the futuristic new Lagonda saloon, based on the V8 model. In 1980 Aston-Martin sought to buy MG, planning to design a new model and offering their take on an updated 1981 model MGB. The acquisition never developed, as the company was badly hit by the economic contraction of the early 1980s. Worldwide sales shrank to three cars per week, prompting chairman Alan Curtis, Sprague, and Minden to consider shutting down production to concentrate on service and restoration. At this point Curtis attended the 1980 Pace sponsored Stirling Moss benefit day at Brands Hatch, and met fellow Farnham resident Victor Gauntlett, who bought a stake in Aston Martin and became as joint 50/50 owners at the beginning of 1981, with Gauntlett as executive chairman. Gauntlett also led the sales team. after some development and publicity when agondabecame the world’s fastest 4-seater production car, was able to sell the Aston Martin Lagonda in Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar.In 1982 Aston Martin was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment by the Prince of Wales. Understanding that it would take some time to develop new Aston Martin products, they created an engineering service subsidiary Tickford to develop automotive products for other companies included a Tickford Austin Metro (WTF!?) a Tickford Ford Capri. Pace continued sponsoring racing events, and now sponsored all Aston Martin Owners Club events, taking a Tickford-engined Nimrod Group C car up to third in the Manufacturers Championship in both 1982 and 1983 and also finishing seventh in the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
Gauntlett bought a stake in Italian styling house Zagato, and resurrected its collaboration with Aston Martin and In 1986 he also negotiated the return of fictional British secret agent James Bond to Aston Martin. Cubby Broccoli had chosen to recast the character using actor Timothy Dalton, in an attempt to re-root the Bond-brand back to a more Sean Connery-like feel in The Living Daylights.Ford took a share holding in September 1987 & In 1988, having produced some 5,000 cars in 20 years, a revived economy and successful sales of limited edition Vantage, and 52 Volante Zagato coupes at £86,000 each; the company finally retired the ancient V8 and introduced the Virage range—the first new Aston launched in 20 years. Gauntlett’s racing interests took Aston back into sports car racing in 1989 with limited European success. the new Aston Martin Volante model was launched in 1990, and Ford took full control of Aston Martin. In 1992, the Vantage version was announced, and the following year the company renewed the DB range by announcing the DB7 range, which was boosted by the addition of V12 Vantage models in 1999 In 1994, Ford opened a new factory at Banbury Road in Bloxham.In 2001 the company introduced the V12-engined Aston Martin Vanquish At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan in 2003, Aston Martin also introduced the AMV8 Vantage concept car. Expected to have few changes before its introduction in 2005, the Vantage brought back the classic V8 engine to allow the company to compete in a larger market. Also introduced in 2003 was the DB9 coupé, which replaced the ten-year-old DB7, A convertible version of the DB9, the DB9 Volante, was introduced at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show.In December 2003 Aston Martin announced it would return to motor racing in 2005. A new division was created, called Aston Martin Racing, which became responsible, together with Prodrive, for the design, development, and management of the DBR9 program. The DBR9 competes in the GT class in sports car races, including the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2007, a consortium led by Prodrive chairman David Richards purchased Aston Martin, although Prodrive had no financial involvement in the deal Ford also kept a stake in the company.To demonstrate the V8 Vantage’s durability across hazardous terrain and promote the car in China, the first east-west crossing of the Asian Highway was undertaken between June and August 2007. A pair of Britons drove 12,089 km (7,512 miles) from Tokyo to Istanbul before joining the European motorway network for another 3,259 km (2,025 miles) to London. The promotion was so successful the company opened dealerships in Shanghai and Beijing. In 2007, the Newport Pagnell plant rolled out the last of nearly 13,000 cars made there since 1955, and The Tickford Street facility was converted to Aston Martin’s service and restoration department.In 2008, Aston Martin announced the revival of the Lagonda marque, and four-door Aston Martin Rapide began production in 2012, and The company’s current line-up includes the Vantage, DB9, Rapide and Vanquish.