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Aston Martin

Aston Martin

United Kingdom United Kingdom (1914 - present)
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History
Aston Martin founder Lionel Martin

Aston Martin founder Lionel Martin

© photo courtesy of: Aston Martin

Aston Martin was founded in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford and the brand’s name is a merging between the hill-climb circuit named Aston Hill and Lionel’s surname, Martin.

Before the company was born, Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford worked for the car company Singer and raced cars at hill climbing and racing events, such as the Aston Hill, in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire. Then, the duo decided it was time to make their own cars and have their own car company, which they established in 1914 in Kensington. Their first car came out the following year.

Aston Martin founder Robert Bamford

Aston Martin founder Robert Bamford

© photo courtesy of: Aston Martin

For the time of the World War I, car production at Aston Martin was suspended and replaced by aviation machinery production to help the war efforts. When the conflict was over, a new Aston Martin car was finally made and soon their first competition car was produced as well, in 1921. Their vehicles would break some speed and endurance records at a worldwide level. Nevertheless, the company’s plant had to be closed in 1926 due to some financial difficulties and Lionel Martin left. It was then that some wealthy investors, especially Bill Renwick and Augustus (Bert) Bertelli, took over the company, moved it to Feltham and renamed it, so Aston Martin Motors Limited was established, in 1926. Until 1937, Bertelli would be ahead of Aston Martin’s technical and design departments, being responsible for all the brand’s vehicles produced on that period of time.

Economic difficulties and management crisis and changes were a constant for the Aston Martin company. At this time, the direction board decided to reduce sports car production and instead focus on road cars. Also, with the beginning of the second World War, car manufacture once again shifted to aircraft accessories production. After the War and some more crisis, in 1947, the British company was saved by sir David Brown (of David Brown Ltd.), who bought both Aston Martin and LagondaLagondaLagondaUnited Kingdom, 1906 > present20 models
34 photos
companies and joined them together by using either one’s technology and resources.

Sean Connery and DB5

Sean Connery and DB5

© photo courtesy of: Aston Martin

In 1954 the Aston Martin headquarters moves once again and is relocated at Newport Pagnell. With David Brown ahead of the company, the classic “DB”DB2 Gen.1Aston Martin DB2 Gen.1United Kingdom, 1950 > 19532 versions
25 photos
car series start being produced. Financial and management crisis, however, continue and the 1970’s decade is a time of several management changes for the automaker.

Finally, in 1981, Aston Martin is sold to Pace Petroleum’s Victor Gauntlett and to CH Industrials, who share a 50/50 acquisition of the company. Despite the amount of management changes, the company remained producing high quality vehicles and some models even re-entered the ‘James Bond’ movie sequel. Ford Motor CompanyFordFordUnited States of America, 1903 > present92 models
2500 photos
11 videos
enters the management scene as well to purchase 75% shareholding at Aston Martin in 1987, acquiring the full 100% holding in 1994.
 

In 2003, the new Aston Martin manufacturing plant opens in Gaydon and the brand also declares their intention to return to motor sports for the 2005 season. The Aston Martin Racing department is established. In 2006, the Ford company was forced to give up on some parts of its Premier Automotive Group, where Aston Martin was included, due to some financial issues. The British automaker was then sold to a consortium of two international investment houses – Investment Dar and Adeem Investment – and to the Aston Martin collector John Sinders, leaving a small stake for Ford. Such deal was headed by ProdriveProdriveProdriveUnited Kingdom, 1984 > present1 model
7 photos
’s David Richards.



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Logo
Aston Martin logo

Aston Martin logo

© photo courtesy of: Aston Martin

The history of the Aston Martin logo is actually unclear. The emblem is currently composed by a pair of white wings, outlined by a black line, with the words “Aston Martin” in white over a green rectangle on top of the wings. In the logo, the rectangle is in plain white, instead of green, and the words “Aston Martin” are repeated and placed underneath the drawing. However, it hasn’t always been that way since the company was formed.

Indeed, there have been quite a few different symbols that represented the British car brand over the decades, since it opened in 1916. The first one, created in 1920, was basically a merging of the letters ‘A’ and ‘M’ in black, surrounded by a black double-line circle. In 1932, Aston Martin’s symbol was completely reformulated, now consisting on the brand’s name written over a pair of wings that were inspired by Bentley’s and meant to suggest speed. The drawing is in black over white.

A few years later, the 1932 symbol was somewhat redesigned in order to keep up with contemporary tastes but the drawing’s elements remained the same. In 1947, after David Brown took over the automaker, the logo was improved yet again and now included the name “David Brown” above the words “Aston Martin”, which were now sustained by a black rectangle. The wings remained as the symbol’s background. The “David Brown” name would be removed in the 1970’s when the company was no longer on this sir’s hands.



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Motorsport

Before the company was even born, its founder Lionel Martin used to compete regularly at the Aston Clinton hill climb races. The brand’s debut in international motor racing happened at the 1923 French Grand Prix with two Aston Martin cars entering it. The team also broke ten world records at the Brooklands race later that year. An Aston Martin car won the 1932 Biennal Cup at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Aston Martin DB3S, 1956

Aston Martin DB3S, 1956

© photo courtesy of: Aston Martin

When industrialist David Brown bought the company in 1947 he encouraged and made possible for the brand to participate in international motorsport events to give Aston Martin a global appreciation. The first two cars of the Brown era were the DB1 and the DB2DB2Aston Martin DB2United Kingdom, 1950 > 195325 photos
, although they never made it to first place on any race. It was about time that actual racing cars were built in order to be competitive and the DB3SDB3-SAston Martin DB3-SUnited Kingdom, 1956 > present19 photos
finally brought Aston Martin some success in the 1950’s, such as in the 1953 Le Mans. Besides, the British company began supplying Aston Martin cars to private drivers to compete as well.

Two Aston Martin DBR1DBR1Aston Martin DBR1United Kingdom, 1959 > 195915 photos
entered the World Sports Car Championship in the 1957 season and won the Spa and Nürburgring races. The same car would win overall at the 1959 season, by the hands of Stirling Moss, and that would be the only World Championship that Aston Martin ever won up until today. However, several races from the Championship and some lap records were led by the brand. After the 1959 success, the Aston Martin team made an attempt to enter the Formula 1 but results were very unfavorable and the company retired from racing and never competed again for more than 40 years.

It wasn’t until 2004 that Aston Martin returned to competition with its DBR9DBR9Aston Martin DBR9United Kingdom, 2005 > present6 photos
, through a partnership with Prodrive. The VantageVantage (modern) Gen.1Aston Martin Vantage (modern) Gen.1United Kingdom, 2005 > present50 versions
195 photos
4 videos
N24 model debuted in 2006 at the Nürburgring race and at the first Bahrain 24 Hours, making it to number 8 on the Middle Eastern race. At the 2007 season of Le Mans, the GT1 class and an overall fifth place were taken by an Aston Martin DBR9.

Formula 1’s biggest failures



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