Aston Martin Lagonda
Company typePrivate (subsidiary of Ford)
ISINGB00BFXZC448 Edit this on Wikidata
Gaydon, Warwickshire
Key people
Ulrich Rombolotti, CEO
ParentFord Premier Automotive Group

Aston Martin Lagonda Limited is a British manufacturer of luxury cars whose headquarters are at Gaydon, Warwickshire, England. The company name was derived from the Aston Clinton hill climb and one of the company's founders, Lionel Martin. Since 1994 Aston Martin has been part of the Premier Automotive Group division of Ford Motor Company, though Ford announced in August 2006 that it was considering selling the firm.[1]



Aston Martin was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The two had joined forces as Bamford & Martin the previous year to sell cars made by Singer from premises in Callow Street, London. Martin raced specials at the Aston Hill near Aston Clinton, and the pair decided to make their own 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.[2] They acquired premises at Henniker Place in Kensington and produced their first car in March 1915. Production could not start because 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

Inter war years

After the war hiatus, the company was refounded at Abingdon Road, Kensington and a new car designed which would carry the Aston-Martin name. Bamford left in 1920 and the company was revitalised with funding from Count Louis Zborowski. In 1922, Bamford & Martin produced cars to compete in the French Grand Prix, and the cars set world speed and endurance records at Brooklands. 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, a number of rich investors, including Lady Charnwood, took control of the company and renamed it Aston Martin Motors, and moved the firm to the former Citroën plant in Feltham. John Benson brought in Augusto Bertelli as designer. The 1929 Aston Martin International was another successful racer and was followed by the Le Mans and the Ulster. Financial problems reappeared in 1932 and the company was rescued by L Prideaux Brune who funded it for the following year before passing the company on to Sir Arthur Sutherland. In 1936, the company decided to concentrate on road cars. Car production had always been on a small scale and from the company's founding until the advent of World War II halted work only about 700 had been made. During the war years aircraft components were made.

The David Brown era

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. 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 classic series of cars bearing the initials "DB". In 1950, the company announced the DB2, followed by the racing DB3 in 1957 and the Italian-styled 3.7 L 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 famous DB5 in 1963. The company continued developing the "grand touring" style with the DB6 (1965–70), the DBS, and the DBS V8 (1967–72).

Changing ownership

Despite the cars' appreciation in value, the company was often financially troubled. In 1972, it was sold to a Birmingham-based consortium, and resold in 1975 to the North American businessmen Peter Sprague and George Minden. The new American owners pushed the company into modernizing 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 existing V8 model.

In 1980 Aston-Martin had plans - that did not materialize - to buy MG, which they would have utilized as a sister marque, likely building smaller sports cars. Ideas were plotted to design a new model and in fact, they actually revealed to the press their approach of an 'updated' '1981' model MGB.

The Americans sold the company to CH Industrial, who themselves turned the company over in 1983 to Automotive Investments who, in turn, lasted barely a year before selling the company to Peter Livanos and company chairman Victor Gauntlett. In 1987, the Ford Motor Company purchased 75 per cent of the company, later gaining complete control of the company.

In 1988, having produced some 5,000 cars in twenty years, the company finally retired the ancient V8 and introduced the Virage range. In 1992, the Vantage version was announced, and the following year the company renewed the DB range by announcing the DB7.

The Ford era

In 1993, Ford finally bought Victor Gauntlett's shares and took full control of the firm, placing it in the Premier Automotive Group. Ford substantially invested in new manufacturing and quickly ramped-up production. In 1994, Ford opened a new factory at Banbury Road in Bloxham. In 1995, the company produced a record 700 vehicles, in 1998 the 2,000th DB7 was built, and in 2002 the 6,000th — 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.

2003 was a significant year for Aston Martin. At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, 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 factory in Aston Martin's history. Also introduced in 2003, was the new DB9 coupé, which replaced 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 2006, the V8 Vantage sports car entered production at the Gaydon factory joining the DB9 and DB9 Volante.

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.

Ford Auction

In light of mounting financial pressure, and after internal review of costs and value, Ford decided to look at selling parts of its Premium Automotive Group. After suggestions of selling Jaguar Cars, Land Rover or Volvo Cars, Ford appointed UBS AG to sell Aston Martin by auction.

At the end of August 2006, Ford announced that it would be willing to sell all or part of Aston Martin. Bill Ford said: "As part of our on going strategic review, we have determined that Aston Martin may be an attractive opportunity to raise capital and generate value".[3] Auto Express reported that Ford hopes to achieve £600m from the sale. The Financial Times reported on 1 September 2006 that Ford wanted $2 billion.

Car Magazine reported that the world’s two biggest luxury goods firms are locked in a battle to buy Aston Martin from cash-starved Ford. Swiss-based Richemont and French holding company Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy have emerged as most likely to take on Aston, despite having no previous experience in the car industry.[4] Sunday Telegraph announced that Permira, Alchemy Partners and Texas Pacific Group are lining up bids of up to £500m, along with Jac Nasser, now a partner at One Equity, the private equity arm of JP Morgan. BMW have excluded themselves, as have most of the recognised car companies in light of the cash-rich private equity money.

The first round of the auction closed on 30 November, 2006.[5] Of the four survivors, one is Syrian born billionaire Simon Halabi, who recently bought the Esporta fitness-club chain[6].


Aston Martin's model naming can be confusing to the uninitiated. In general, high performance models use the "Vantage" name, while convertibles are called Volante.

Pre-war cars

Post-war GT cars

Post-war supercars


Current models

Future models

Race cars

See also: List of Formula One constructors

Whole race cars

Engine supply only

Astons on film

The very British glamour of Aston Martin cars meant they were a natural choice for the character of James Bond (author Ian Fleming gave his hero a DBIII in the 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 then, in GoldenEye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), appeared to have become his private car. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) there appears, at the beginning and end of the movie, a metallic-green DBS. 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 early 2004, Henrik Fisker, Design Director at Aston Martin, revealed that James Bond drove the new DBS in Casino Royale released in November 2006.[7]

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. Although it is commonly believed that this car was destroyed during filming, it still exists and currently belongs to an AMOC member. Rather than destroy an expensive Aston, a Lancia mocked up to look like its British counterpart was pushed over the edge for the final take. In the 2003 remake with the same title, the character Handsome Rob, played by Jason Statham, ends up driving an Aston Martin, but not the Vanquish that he wanted. Instead, it is a DB7 Volante.

An Aston Martin also appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.

Rowan Atkinson's character in Johnny English (2003) drives a DB7

Roger Moore's character in The Persuaders! (1971-1972) drives an Aston Martin V8.

Famous owners


  1. ^ Ford press release
  2. ^ "Aston Martin: Car Manufacturer: Great British Design Quest". Design Museum.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Car Magazine
  5. ^
  6. ^,,2769-2496140,00.html
  7. ^


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