Known for its beautiful design and world-class workmanship, Aston Martin has long established itself as a British mark of luxury and speed. This credibility has been earned over a long and rich heritage of building motorsports cars and luxurious grand touring cars for affluent customers.
That being said, there are many things that people do not know about this iconic company. Here are 10 riveting facts you probably didn't know about Aston Martin.
1. The Company Was Founded More Than a Century Ago
Established in 1913, Aston Martin is one of the longest-standing car manufacturers in the UK. The company's founders were Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, who initially sold cars for Singer (a now-defunct British motoring pioneer).
The two gentlemen were based in London and went by the name 'Bamford & Martin.'
In 1914 they decided to start making their own cars. Unfortunately, just as the founders were finishing their first production car, World War I broke out. The company's equipment was sold off when they joined the war effort.
It wasn't until 1920 that they designed their second car, and production of Bamford & Martin resumed. Around this time, Robert Bamford decided to retire from the company.
The company was rebranded to 'Aston Martin.' The name Aston was inspired by Aston Hill, where motorsports events took place at the time. Lionel Martin, a keen racing driver, would test drive the prototypes at Aston Hill.
2. Aston Martin Chief Financier Died Racing For The Company
Aston Martin is a company that has seen many highs and lows in its history. One of its lowest points was the tragic death of Count Louis Zebrowski. Through the early 1920s, Aston Martin was making big strides in the motorsports field.
Part of this was due to the generosity of Count Louis Zebrowski, who financially backed the company and helped it enter motor racing events. They were particularly excited to enter their cars into the Le Man's race and into Grand Prix events around Europe.
However, during the 1924 Italian Grand Prix, tragedy struck…
Count Louis Zebrowski was racing one of the Aston Martins when he was involved in a fatal racing accident. On top of the devastating loss of life, there was also a financial implication for Aston Martin. Following the accident, they went bankrupt.
However, Lady Dorothea Charnwood (wife of 1st Baron Charnwood) saved the company by purchasing the business in 1926 and placing her son, John Benson, on the board.
In the same year, Augustus Bertelli joined Aston Martin as the technical director as well as the chief designer. Between 1926 and 1937, every car produced by Aston Martin was designed by him. Consequently, the cars produced during this era became known as Bertelli cars.
Some of the models he designed include 'International', 'MKII', 'Ulster', ' and 'T-Type.' Bertelli made true Classic cars that are still celebrated today.
3. David Brown Revived Aston Martin
Producing race cars proved too strenuous financially, and as a result, Aston Martin changed hands several times between 1926 and 1947.
In 1947, Aston Martin was bought by tractor manufacturer Sir David Brown who then set off the age of the world-famous DB models (named from his initials.) The period in which Sir David Brown was at the helm of this car company was something of a golden era for Aston Martin.
In 1959, Aston Martin launched the DB-4. This was a real supercar of its time and received great critical acclaim within the motor industry. The car was powered by a 3.7L engine and could reach a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour.
Next in line was the DB5, which gained instant notoriety when it appeared in the 1964 James Bond film "Goldfinger." Retrofitted with high-tech gadgets and weaponry, the DB5 was a spy's dream come true. During the movie's promotion, it was dubbed "the most famous car in the world" Subsequently, sales of the car rose significantly.
In the 1969 spy film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," George Lazenby drove a DB5 for his sole appearance as 007. Since then, it is now widely accepted that the fictional film spy James Bond drives an Aston Martin.
In 1968 Brown’s success with Aston Martin earned him a knighthood. Sadly, Brown's sale of Aston Martin to a banking consortium in 1972 marked a return to difficult times. The new owners discontinued all the classic Aston Martin DB models shortly after.
4. Aston Martin First Foray Into Formula One Was a Flop
Most luxury car brands try to participate in motorsports events in one form or another. Some like Mercedes and Ferrari even have whole racing teams.
This has always been seen as an opportunity for car makers to showcase the speed and power of their creations—the ultimate marketing tool.
This is why iconic racing brands like Ferrari are willing to spend millions every year on Formula One competition and yet very little on traditional marketing.
Aston Martin was no different in this respect as it had the desire to become a force to reckon with on the motor racing circuit. However, things didn't really work out as they hoped. The brand debuted in Formula One in 1959 but lasted just five races.
The reason for this was simply that their cars were not good enough. Luckily, after a 61-year absence from the sport, Aston Martin finally got back into Formula 1 with their debut Aston Martin AMR21 which was unveiled in March 2021.
Aston Martin AMR21
5. There Were Several Versions of the DB Series
The DB series of cars was highly successful and led to several different versions of this model with a range of modifications. One example of this was the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato.
This was a sports car version of the DB series that came with a lighter bodywork. The modifications were done by the Italian coachbuilder, Zagato.
Initially, the plan was to produce 25 cars in a limited-edition series. However, the demand was low, and only 19 were ever made. All 19 of these cars are still in existence and are now car enthusiasts collectibles worth millions of dollars.
Then there was the iconic Aston Martin DB5, an evolution of the last car manufactured in the DB-4 series. One of the Aston Martin DB5 used to promote the James Bond film “Thunderball” was sold at a 2019 RM Sotheby's auction for a record-setting $6.4 million.
Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Aston Martin Was Almost Liquidated and Shut Down
If you read our post on the history of cars, you know that the 1970s and 1980s were a turbulent era for the motor industry as a whole. From the stringent European emission standards to the encroachment of Japanese carmakers, it wasn't easy to be a British car manufacturer during this period.
For instance, Rolls-Royce filed for bankruptcy in 1971.
Aston Martin also went through a financial crisis that lasted for years, and the new management struggled to cope with the situation. Several times in the 1970s, liquidating the company was weighed as an option.
Despite this, the British automaker still managed to produce a series of new sports car models. For example, one of the car maker's most memorable models is the Aston Martin Lagonda.
This Aston Martin model was produced between 1974 and 1990, making it one of the company's longest-standing models. At the time, it was considered a trendsetter due to its unusual wedge shape, which would later become a standard design for many sports cars.
That being said, the financial difficulties still persisted until Ford Motor Company bought Aston Martin in the late 1980s. Production was ramped up, and sales of Aston Martin cars for the first time in years went above 200 vehicles per annum. The legendary DB designation was also brought back with the 1993 release of the Aston Martin DB-7.
In 2007, Ford sold the company Sir David Brownman had bought for $26,000 sixty years before, to a consortium of investors for a whopping $925 million.
Aston Martin Lagonda
Every Aston Martin Vehicle is Made by Hand
Each component of an Aston Martin car is made and then installed by hand, right down to the stitching on the interior. This makes the car maker stand out as very few companies in the motor industry still make their cars this way.
In fact, almost all car manufacturers worldwide have moved to automated moving assembly lines for the mass production of their cars.
On the other hand, Aston Martin still believes that the personal touch gives a sense of quality and luxury to the finished product and makes it worthwhile paying the high price tag to own such a vehicle.
Credit: Automotive News Europe
The Aston Martin Logo Has Changed Many Times
The Aston Martin logo is instantly recognizable, but this specific design has been around for less than two decades.
The reality is that the Aston Martin logo has also gone through 10 iterations over the years.
The original version of the Aston Martin logo was made in 1920. This consisted of a capital A and a capital M interlocking within a circle.
A variant of this logo was then introduced in 1927. The new logo now featured the Aston Martin name on a pair of wings. Many people mistakenly thought that these were the wings of a bird. On the contrary, they were the wings of the scarab beetle.
S.C.H Davis, the racing driver, was responsible for the logo's redesign, he was a keen Egyptologist. Ancient Egyptians revered the scarab beetle as an extension of the sun god.
Others believe that the wings concept was simply borrowed from the logo of the Bentley cars.
In 1947, David Brown added his name to the logo, but this was dropped when the company changed hands again.
The present emblem has existed since 2003. It consists of a green rectangle on top of the white wings, sporting the company's name in uppercase characters.
This symbol that people now recognize and associate with the luxury car brand.
Original Aston Martin logo
Aston Martin Released a Special Model for the Bond Movie 'Spectre'
As previously mentioned, Aston Martin and the James Bond franchise have a long-running relationship.
For the 2015 007 film 'Spectre,' Aston Martin released a hyper-limited edition of 10 unique DB10 sports cars, which were explicitly built on request from the movie's producers.
Eight of those 10 cars were featured in the movie, and two more were built for promotional purposes.
To cater to the “die-hard” Bond and Aston Martin fans, the carmaker produced 150 DB9 GT Bond Edition cars, which sold for $237,007 in the United States each. On top of the usual Aston Martin specs, the vehicle featured 007 sill plaques, a Spectre silver color and a rear seat divider with gun barrel embroidery.
New owners also got a $17,000 Rolex Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra watch and a $1,000 Globe-Trotter luggage case as extras.
The car was sold out within days, leaving most potential buyers disappointed for missing out on the action.
Related: 8 Interesting Facts About James Bond
Most Modern Aston Martins Can Reach 200 mph
Aston Martins are well-known for their speed, which is one of the appealing features that attract people to buy these sports cars. As a matter of fact, most of the modern Aston Martins can achieve speeds above 200 mph, with the speedometers going up to 220 mph. There is one model which is the exception to the rule.
The V8 Vantage model lags behind somewhat as it can only reach a speed of 190 mph, which is still very fast by any standards!
Fortunately for sports car enthusiasts, Aston Martin is still here. Although the company has experienced several financial setbacks throughout its history, the spirit and design of each new model, along with a loyal interest in their cars, have kept Aston Martin up and running.