Amongst car enthusiasts, the Aston Martin is one of the most desirable cars. It is considered a work of art and is admired as much for its brilliant engineering as it is for its aesthetic beauty. In terms of British car manufacturers, Aston Martin is at the top-end of the industry and they are renowned for their use of cutting-edge technology combined with traditional craftsmanship. Their elegant vehicles are often the choice of English gentleman who opt for this car as it is sophisticated and stylish. As it is a luxury car, it shows their power and status while providing them with a comfortable and smooth ride. Aston Martins have the power and speed of a sports car but retain elegance and style. Here are 20 facts you might not know about Aston Martin.
1. It was founded by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin
Aston Martin has a long and interesting history. The company was initially founded by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford in 1913. They originally called themselves Bamford & Martin and sold cars made by Singer. They were selling these vehicles from Callow Street in London. The pair then decided to start producing their own cars. They didn’t produce their own car, which they called an Aston Martin, until March 1915. Their first model was given the name ‘Coal Scuttle’, but they decided this wasn’t a particularly catchy name. Instead, the model was given the name ‘A5’. Robert Bamford was the engineer out of the pair, so it may seem strange that his name was dropped from the name of their car. Other car manufacturers, such as Rolls-Royce, are named after both their founders. However, this is not the case for Aston Martin.While the Martin part of the name clearly comes from racing driver Lionel Martin, the Aston part is named after Aston Clinton Hill Climb. This was a time trial event in the United Kingdom in which Lionel Martin would race cars and was particularly successful.
2. The second Car was Not Introduced Until 1919
Following the introduction of their first car, there was a rather long wait for Aston Martin to introduce their second model onto the market. The start of World War I put a stop to car manufacturing for many car companies and Aston Martin was no different. In fact, during the war, both Bamford and Martin went into service for Britain. It was for this reason that they did not produce a second car until 1919. Production of the car began the following year in their new workshop which was located at the former Henniker Stables on Abington Road in London. This second model helped the company to establish themselves and to develop their prestige as a manufacturer of luxury cars.
3. They Have Participated in Numerous Motorsports Events
While some car manufacturers avoid involvement in motorsports, Aston Martin has always embraced motorsports events. In fact, they have participated in many different motorsports over the years. Some of the motorsports events in which they have participated include Le Mans, Mille Miglia, and Brooklands. As one of the top luxury cars in the world, they wanted to make a presence in the top events in the motorsports racing calendar.
4. Count Louis Zborowski Died in an Aston Martin
Although Aston Martin has made many great achievements over the years, the company has also seen many bad times. One of the biggest tragedies in the history of this car manufacturer was the tragic death of Count Louis Zborowski in one of their cars during a motorsports event. It was at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 1924 when the tragedy struck. Count Louis Zborowski was a patron of the company and a financial supporter. He was not only a racing driver, he was also an automobile engineer. He was tragically killed on the racing track at the age of just 29. His death had a knock-on effect on the finances of Aston Martin and the company went bankrupt. As a result, they were taken over by W.S. Renwick who was an engineer. He was responsible for creating the 1.5-litre engines that were used on Aston Martins from 1936.
5. The Aston Martin Atom was Introduced in 1939
In 1939, Aston Martin introduced the Aston Martin Atom. Claud Hill was the lead designer at Aston Martin at that time and he was responsible for the design of this model. It had advanced switching speeds by Cotal and unitary construction and transmission. The model was a front-wheel-drive saloon. Aston Martin chose to show this car at the 1940 London Motor Show and it caused a furor. Sadly, despite the quality of this model, sales were poor. The most likely reason for this is that the car was introduced in the midst of World War II and this was not the best time for car sales for any car manufacturer.
6. Sir David Brown Bought Aston Martin in 1947
In 1947, the Aston Martin company was sold to Sir David Brown. He had also bought the Lagonda company. He incorporated the two and called them Aston Martin Lagonda Limited. David Brown Limited was a privately-owned gear and tools manufacturer. When they bought Aston Martin, it was put under the control of their Tractor Group. Both Lagonda and Aston Martin shared workshops, resources, and engines. The models of cars they produced improved the pedigree of Aston Martin racing cars. Tadek Marek designed six-cylinder engines for the card manufactured by Aston Martin under David Brown Limited’s ownership between 1954 and 1967.
7. The Aston Martin DB-2 Made Its Debut in 1950
One of the most powerful models of Aston Martin that was ever manufactured was the Aston Martin DB-2 and this made its debut in 1950. Aston Martin used this car to compete in various motor racing events. It was reasonably successful in the 3-litres class of motorsports competitions. This sports car had a 2.6-litre engine. This car was manufactured under the leadership of David Brown. This car led to a number of other models that were based on the original design of the DB-2, including DB2/4, the DB2/4 MkII, the DB Mark III, and the DB4. These cars were all manufactured throughout the 1950s.
8. The Aston Martin Factory Team Won Le Mans on Several Occasions
Although winning the 1922 Grand Prix was one of the first racing achievements of Aston Martin, one of their greatest achievements was when their factory team won Le Mans. This had been a long-standing dream for the company. Le Mans is a 24-hour race that takes place in France and the title of this event is one of the most coveted amongst racing drivers in the world. In 1933, Aston Martin took all three podium places at this event. It was then many years before they achieved the same level of success. Many of the company directors of Aston Martin, including David Brown, had coveted this title for many years. It took until 1959 for this dream to finally come true. It was only four years previously that one of the most tragic racing accident in history had occurred at Le Mans. A collision amongst the drivers caused one car to launch into the crowd and burst into flames. Although the death toll was never officially recorded, it is estimated that between 80 and 120 people were killed.
9. They Made a Failed Bid to Enter Formula One in 1959
As keen fans of participating in motorsports events, Aston Martin were eager to take part in Formula One as this is one of the biggest competitions in the world of motorsport. They decided to make a bid to enter Formula One events in 1959. Unfortunately, their cars were not very successful and their Formula One debut was a failure. As a result, Aston Martin cancelled this project. This was a huge disappointment for the company as Formula One is one of the most popular and watched motorsports competitions in the world and has fans from across the globe.
10. Also in 1959, They Introduced the Aston Martin DB-4
2959 was an important year in the history of Aston Martin as this was also the year that they introduced the Aston Martin DB-4. Some of the features of this car included a 3.7 engine, a cylinder head and block of cast R.R.50 aluminium alloy, and a double overhead cam straight-6. This car was definitely considered the supercar of its time as it could reach a top speed of a staggering 250 kilometers per hour.
11. Only 19 Aston Martin DB4 GT Cars Were Made
Several modifications were made to the DB series of cars. The sports car version of this popular series of cars was the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato. The Zagato factory in Italy made improvements and lightened the model. Initially, it was intended that there would be 25 of these cars manufactured. However, they cancelled this plan and only 19 cars actually left the factory. Strangely, all 19 of these cars have survived to the current day.
12. The Aston Martin DB-5 is Famous for Appearing in the James Bond Movies
The DB series of cars was developed during the early 1960s and this led to the DB-5 making its debut. This model was evolved from the final series of the DB-4. This car is one of the most famous Aston Martin models as it is the car that is driven by the famous fictional spy James Bond in the James Bond series of films. The attention this car brand gained from appearing in these popular films massively increased the popularity of the brand. The first Bond movie in which the car appeared was ‘Goldfinger’. Other films in which an Aston Martin appeared later include ‘The World Is Not Enough’, ‘Casino Royale’, ‘Skyfall’, Tomorrow Never Dies’, and ‘Goldeneye’. Other models of Aston Martin have also appeared in James Bond movies. For example, the DBS V12 is in ‘Casino Royale’, the DBS is in ‘Her Majesty’s Service’, and DB10 is in ‘Spectre’. The DB5 driven by Sean Connery in ‘Goldfinger’ was sold at first for only £5,000. However, in 2006, it sold at auction for almost one million Great British Pounds. It is an interesting fact that the Aston Martin used in ‘Casino Royale’ holds the record for the most rollovers performed in a stunt.
13. The DBS Vantage Was Designed to Compete with Italian Cars
Although Aston Martin were doing well with their car sales in the United Kingdom, their international sales figures told a different story. One reason for this was that they were in direct competition with Italian car brands such as Maserati, Lamborghini, and Ferrari. It seemed that those who wanted to purchase a luxury car were more inclined to buy one of the Italian brands. For this reason, Aston Martin decided they needed to take steps to compete against the Italian car manufacturers. They came up with the Aston Martin DBS and the Aston Martin DBS Vantage. These cars had many amazing features, including the straight-six engine. Later, this was replaced by an aluminium alloy V-8 engine.
14. The 70s Was a Difficult Decade for Aston Martin
Aston Martin has seen many ups and downs throughout its history and one of the most difficult periods was the 1970s. It was during this decade that the company first began to face serious financial difficulties. This was a situation that continued through to the early 1990s. During this period, they produced only a limited series of sports cars. They used the Volante brand for their cabriolets and the Vantage brand for their coupe models. Also during this period, the company was in constant need of funds from external sources.
15. Ford Motor Company Bought Aston Martin in the Late 1980s
Aston Martin began to turn its fortunes around when the Ford Motor Company bought Aston Martin in the late 1980s. They were shareholders from 1987 and then eventually became the owners of Aston Martin as they had a majority share in the company. This helped the car company to drastically improve its sales figures. Prior to Ford taking over, Aston Martin were only producing around one hundred cars a year. When Ford took over the car manufacturer, they were manufacturing up to a record 700 cars per year. However, Aston Martin was a huge drain on Ford, especially as they insisted on continuing with their traditional methods rather than using an automated production line. They sold it after being major shareholders for over 20 years.
16. Aston Martin Do Not Have Automated Assembly Lines
Unlike the majority of car manufacturers, Aston Martin do not produce their cars using automated assembly lines. All their cars are still assembled by hand and it is for this reason that they only produce a limited number of each model. The production capacity of Aston Martin is estimated at 300 cars a year. After the assembly is finished, every Aston Martin craftsman marks the vehicle with their personal brand. This is a process that has not changed since the 1980s and is carried out in small hangers with no modern technology. Even when Ford Motor Company owned Aston Martin, they still stuck to their traditional manufacturing methods. While using these methods produces top-quality results that have contributed to Aston Martin being known for its luxury, the production of the cars is time-consuming. In fact, it can take up to 2,700-man hours to produce a single car. The one nod to technology is a single robot that has the nickname ‘James Bonder’. This is used to apply the specialist aerospace adhesive needed on the all-aluminium vehicles. Also, while some car manufacturers produce cars in several countries, all Aston Martins are manufactured in Great Britain.
17. A Consortium of Investors Bought Aston Martin in 2007
Unfortunately, owning Aston Martin was a great burden for Ford Motor Company and it was for this reason that they decided to sell. In 2007, a consortium of investors bought Aston Martin. The main investor was David Richards who was the chairman of Prodrive. He was a collector and fan of Aston Martin. The company was sold to the investors for a whopping $925 million. David Richards is also the chairman elect of the Motor Sports Association. He was appointed for a CBE for his services to the motorsport industry in 2005 and in 2017, he was inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame.
18. Creativity Was Required to Meet European Emission Standards
Aston Martin faced a problem when new European emission standards were introduced. They knew their cars would not meet the standards, so they had to get creative to make sure they met the criteria for selling cars in Europe. Rather than calculating the emissions of individual models, they calculated the emissions of the entire model line-up. They also made the first super luxury supermini. They rebadged the Toyota iQ and called it the Aston Martin Sygnet. Unfortunately, sales were low for this model and they only manufactured 143 cars before abandoning the project. John Sinders was another of the investors and he was an avid collector of Aston Martins. Other investors included Dar and Adeem Investment Company and two international investment companies that were headquartered in Kuwait. Even after selling the majority of its shares, Ford continued to hold 8% of the shares of Aston Martin.
19. The Aston Martin Logo Has Changed Over the Years
Although the Aston Martin logo is now easily recognizable, it has actually changed many times since the company was first founded. The original Aston Martin logo was introduced in 1920 and consisted of a capital A and M that were interlocked in a circle. By 1927, this was completely dropped and replaced with a new symbol without the ‘AM’. Instead, the full name of Aston Martin appeared within a wings emblem. In 1947, David Brown added his name to the emblem. His name was then removed when the company had a new owner. The logo the company has now has been used since 2003 and consists of wings and the Aston Martin name. Overall, there have been ten versions of Aston Martin logos over the years. There are different theories of why wings are used on the Aston Martin logo. Some say it is to represent speed, others say it is derived from the wings of the Egyptian scarab beetle, and others argue the symbol was ‘borrowed’ from Bentley.
20. Many Celebrities Own an Aston Martin
As Aston Martin is such a high-quality luxury car, it is a car that is often bought by the rich and famous. There are many celebrities for whom the Aston Martin is their car of choice. Some of the celebrities who famously own one of these amazing cars include Adam Corolla, Halle Berry, Katherine McPhee, Elle McPherson, David Beckham, and Ben Affleck. The list of famous people who own one of these cars goes on as others who are the proud owners of an Aston Martin include Eddie Murphy, Steven Spielberg, and Jay Leno. Unsurprisingly, Pierce Brosnan bought an Aston Martin following his stint of playing James Bond. These cars are also owned by several members of the Royal Family.