Aston Martin Lagonda Limited is a British manufacturer of luxury sports cars, based in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The company name is derived from the name of one of the company’s founders, Lionel Martin, and from the Aston Hill speed hillclimb near Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire, southern England. From its inception the company has survived through frequent turbulent times, managing to continue making iconic cars of great beauty and enduring desireability.
In August 1985 the company is granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, for motor manufacture and repair. The Prince owns at least two Aston Martin cars, one DB5 and V8 Vantage.
As a young boy he also drove a DB5 scaled model Aston Martin specially made at the factory with JB007 number plates (which is kept at Sandringham). Incidentally, all of the Princes cars have been converted to run on bio fuel (reportedly produced from waste from wine production).
Aston Martin was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. They had allready joined forces founding a business in Callow street London called Bamford & Martin in 1912 to sell cars manufactured by Singer.
Lionel Martin raced specials at Aston Hill and they both thought they could make better so they decided to make their own. The first car to carry the legendary Aston Martin name was created by fitting a four-cylinder Coventry-Simplex engine to the chassis of a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini.
Due to the outbreak of WWI everything was halted. Lionel Martin joined the Admiralty and Bamford the Royal Army Service Corps. All of their machinery at that time was sold to the Sopwith Aviation Company and the factory vacated.
After the war the company was refounded at Abingdon Road, Kensington London and a new car was designed to carry the Aston-Martin name. Production began in earnest and by 1922, the Bamford & Martin company had produced cars to compete in the French Grand Prix. Their cars set world speed and endurance records at Brooklands in England – Aston Martin was making a name for itself.
Over 50 cars were subsequently built for sale to racing enthusiasts. Unfortunately, despite successes on the track and the setting of world speed records, the company went bankrupt in 1924. The company 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 a number of rich investors, again including Lady Charnwood, took control of the company and renamed it Aston Martin Motors, which became successful in national and international motor racing including at Le Mans and the Mille Miglia.
At the outbreak of World War II all production again was halted and during the war years only aircraft components were made to support the war effort.
The making of the brand
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 that year, and both companies shared resources and workshops.The company remains named today as ’Aston Martin Lagonda’. In 1955, David Brown bought the Tickford coachbuilding company and its site at Tickford Street in Newport Pagnell, and that was the beginning of the legendary series of cars bearing the initials “DB”- right up to today.
Agent 007 – James bond
Author Ian Fleming gave James Bond a DB III in his seventh novel, Goldfinger.
A long association between 007 and the marque began on screen with the silver DB5 that appears in Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965). This was James Bond’s ‘company car’ and in GoldenEye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) appeared to have become his own private car.
In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) a metallic-green DBS appears at the beginning and end of the movie. After an interlude with Lotus, Aston Martins were again used: a charcoal-grey V8 Volante and Vantage in The Living Daylights (1987). After switching to BMW for several films, the Vanquish appeared in Die Another Day (2002). In Casino Royale (2006), James Bond drives both the classic DB5 which becomes his personal vehicle after winning a poker game, and the new DBS which is revealed to be his new company car in Quantum of Solace (2008).
In December 2009 Aston Martin released the first official images of the ‘Cygnet’ – a new luxury commuter concept car , a radical depature from the powerful and sleek sports cars for which it is known.
AML says the the Cygnet concept “represents a creative, environmentally conscious solution, being small, yet with presence – and highly fuel efficient, now combined with the prestige of Aston Martin’s luxury brand ownership“.
This of course is a logical progression in todays challenging times. AML says work on the concept is ongoing and will continue into 2010 when it is hoped that it will become a production reality.
Aston Martin Lagonda will no doubt continue to produce alongside its sleek and beautiful sports cars all of which can be seen here