History of Aston Martin


Aston Martin Lagonda Limited is a British manufacturer of luxury sports cars and grand tourers. It was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford.

The firm became associated with luxury grand touring cars in the 1950s and 1960s, and with the fictional character James Bondfollowing his use of a DB5 model in the 1964 film Goldfinger.

The company has had a chequered financial history, including bankruptcy in the 1970s, but has also enjoyed long periods of success and stability, including under the ownership of David Brown, from 1947 to 1972 and of the Ford Motor Company from 1994 to 2007.

In March 2007, a consortium of investors led by Prodrive boss David Richards purchased 90% of Aston Martin for £479 million, with Ford retaining a £40 million stake. David Richards became chairman of Aston Martin. In December 2012, the Italian private equity fund Investindustrial[6] signed a deal to buy 37.5% of Aston Martin, investing £150 million as a capital increase.

Founding

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 where they also serviced GWK and Calthorpe vehicles. Martin raced specials at 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.

They acquired premises at Henniker Mews in Kensington and produced their first car in March 1915. Production could not start because of the outbreak 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, the company was refounded at Abingdon Road, Kensington and a new car designed to 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, which went on to set world speed and endurance records at Brooklands. Three works Team Cars with 16-valve twin cam engines were built for racing and record breaking: chassis number 1914, later developed as the Green Pea; chassis number 1915, the Razor Blade record car; and chassis number 1916, later developed as the Halford Special.

Approximately 55 cars were built for sale in two configurations, long chassis and short chassis. 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, Bill Renwick, Augustus (Bert) Bertelli and investors which included Lady Charnwood took control of the company. They renamed it Aston Martin Motors and moved it to the former Whitehead Aircraft Limited works in Feltham. Renwick and Bertelli had been in partnership some years and had developed an overhead-cam four-cylinder engine using Renwick’s patented combustion chamber design, which they had tested in an Enfield Allday chassis. The only “Renwick and Bertelli” motor car made, it was known as “Buzzbox” and still survives.

The pair had planned to sell their engine to motor manufacturers, but having heard that the Aston Martin was no longer in production realised they could capitalise on its reputation to jump start the production of a completely new car.

Between 1926 and 1937 Bertelli was both technical director and designer of all new Aston Martins, since known as “Bertelli cars”. They included the 1½-litre “T-type”, “International”, “Le Mans”, “MKII” and its racing derivative, the “Ulster”, and the 2-litre 15/98 and its racing derivative, the “Speed Model”. Most were open two-seater sports cars bodied by Bert Bertelli’s brother Enrico (Harry), with a small number of long-chassis four-seater tourers, dropheads and saloons also produced.

Bertelli was a competent driver keen to race his cars, one of few owner/manufacturer/drivers. The “LM” team cars were very successful in national and international motor racing including at Le Mans and the Mille Miglia.

Financial problems reappeared in 1932. The company was rescued for a year by L. Prideaux Brune before passing it on to Sir Arthur Sutherland. In 1936, Aston Martin decided to concentrate on road cars, producing just 700 until World War II halted work. Production shifted to aircraft components during the war.

Read More at Wikipedia


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