History

Introduction

With a century of history, Aston Martin has developed into an automotive icon, a marque synonymous with luxury, heritage and authentic craftsmanship. There have been racing triumphs, road cars built with passion and skilled craftsmanship, and there have also been times when Aston Martin has stared into the abyss. However, despite the current challenging economic times, Aston Martin strides forward and the old boom-and-bust instability is, thankfully, now in the history books.

Discover the key milestones in our 100 year history using the timeline below.

A3 and Vanquish.

Timeline

1913

On 15 January 1913 Robert Bamford (right) and Lionel Martin form Bamford & Martin Ltd, based in Henniker Mews, off the Fulham Road in London.

1915

The first Aston Martin is registered on 16 March. It is christened “Coal Scuttle” and powered by a 1389cc Coventry Climax engine.

1920

Count Louis Zborowski begins to invest in the company and Robert Bamford steps away.

1922

An Aston Martin prototype nicknamed “Bunny” breaks 10 world records when it averages 76mph over 16.5 hours at Brooklands.

1922

Aston Martin fields two cars at the French Grand Prix on 16 July.

1925

The company goes into receivership but is rescued by Lord Charnwood, John Benson, Augustus Cesare Bertelli and William Renwick, renamed Aston Martin Motors and relocated to Feltham, Middlesex.

1928

Aston Martin’s first team cars (LM1 and LM2) compete in the Le Mans 24-hour race.

1932

In June, Cesare Bertelli wins the Biennial Cup at the Le Mans 24-hour race with Pat Driscoll. New owner Sir Arthur Sutherland focuses on a fresh road car range.

1935

The Aston Martin Owners’ Club is founded at The Grafton Hotel on Tottenham Court Road, London.

1939

The highly advanced Atom prototype takes shape. It has an early type of spaceframe chassis, independent front suspension, with an aerodynamic shape and a four-speed Cotal electric gearbox.

1947

Engineering magnate David Brown answers an ad in The Times seeking an owner for a “high class motor business” and buys Aston Martin for £20,500. Following the subsequent purchase of Lagonda, he forms Aston Martin Lagonda.

David Brown (left)

1948

A 2-litre Sports wins the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race.

1949

Three DB2s tackle the Le Mans 24-hours, including one with a new 2.6-litre in-line six-cylinder engine designed by Willie Watson.

1955

David Brown buys Tickford Motor Bodies in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. Production of Aston Martins begins to migrate to the new facility.

The Works serviceline at Newport Pagnell

1958

The DB4 is launched, with a 3.7-litre in-line six-cylinder engine by Tadek Marek. It produces 240bhp and propels the DB4 to 140mph. The body is designed by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan using a Superleggera construction where handmade aluminium panels are fixed to a tubular frame built onto a platform chassis.

1959

The DBR1 wins the World Sports Car Championship with victories in the Nürburgring 1000km and at Goodwood along the way. The crowning glory is winning the Le Mans 24 hour with Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori at the wheel—the marque’s only outright victory in the legendary race.

Triumphant winners Roy Salvadori, Carroll Shelby and David Brown at Le Mans, 1959

1960

Aston Martin begins its long association with Milan-based coachbuilder Zagato. The DB4 GT Zagato (below) features a 314bhp engine, acrylic windows and a super lightweight body. Only 19 are produced between 1960-1963.

1964

Sean Connery as James Bond drives the new DB5 in Goldfinger and an iconic on-screen relationship is born.

The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 makes its first appearance with James Bond in Goldfinger starring Sean Connery

1972

David Brown sells Aston Martin, and Company Developments take control. In a period of uncertainty, Aston Martin changes hands again.

1975

Canadian George Minden and American businessman Peter Sprague rescue the company from administration.

1976

The controversial William Towns-designed Lagonda is launched. It attracts a huge amount of publicity and sales are strong.

1981

The company changes hands again, and is bought by Tim Hearley’s CH Industrial and Victor Gauntlett’s Pace Petroleum. Gauntlett is chairman and turns the company around.

1984

Automotive Industrial becomes sole owners of Aston Martin but Gauntlett stays as chairman. He becomes a 25% shareholder.

1986

The V8 Vantage Zagato is launched and becomes one of the fastest supercars in the world with a top speed of 186mph. Just 52 Coupes and 37 Volantes are produced.

1987

Ford Motor Company takes a 75% share of Aston Martin and later becomes sole owner. A period of rapid investment begins.

1992

The 550bhp Vantage (below) is launched to great acclaim.

1975

Canadian George Minden and American businessman Peter Sprague rescue the company from administration.

1993

The DB7 is unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and production begins at a new factory near Banbury. It goes on sale in 1994.

1999

The DB7 Vantage Coupe and Volante versions are produced using the first V12 production engine for Aston Martin.

2000

A new era begins under Dr Ulrich Bez, who becomes Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

2001

A new supercar utilising a bonded aluminium chassis and body with carbon-fibre composites is launched. The V12 Vanquish (below) sets a new blueprint for Aston Martin.

2002

The limited-edition DB7 Zagato is launched at the Paris Motor Show. Only 99 are built and they immediately sell out.

2003

Aston Martin’s global headquarters is opened in Gaydon, Warwickshire — the first purpose-built facility in the company’s history.

2003

Production of the DB9 commences at Gaydon — the first car to use VH architecture and, together with the V8 Vantage, the most significant and successful Aston Martin of all time with sales in excess of 14,000 cars worldwide.

2004

Aston Martin’s engine plant in Cologne starts producing all V12 and V8 engines.

2005

The V8 Vantage, the most agile car in the range, is launched, followed two years later by the V12 Vantage.

2005

The DBR9 returns to the racetrack. It secures class victories at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008.

2007

The opening of the new design studio, adjacent to the factory at Gaydon, cements the company’s reputation as one of the world’s most technologically sophisticated sports car manufacturers.

The DBS launches at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as the marque’s flagship grand tourer.

Aston Martin returns to independence. The Ford Motor Company sells Aston Martin to international investment houses, Investment Dar and Adeem Investment, led by David Richards.

2008

The Nürburgring Test Centre is opened as a base for development and durability testing of Aston Martin prototypes and for customer events.

2009

Development continues as the world’s most beautiful four-door sports car, the Rapide, is unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Dr Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin CEO, describes it as “a car that seals the revival of a truly admired marque”. In a busy year for the marque, also launched are the V12 Vantage, which features a new rear diffuser, a rear-wing that can be raised or lowered, and carbon-ceramic brakes, and the DBS Volante, boasting a top speed of 191mph.

2009

Aston Martin unveils the ultimate expression of the marque, the One-77. On its debut, the One-77 wins the Design Award in the Concept Cars and Prototypes Class at the Concorso d’Eleganza, Ville d’Este, Italy.

2011

An historic partnership is rekindled with the launch of the V12 Zagato at the Concorso d’Eleganza, Ville d’Este, Italy. The Coupe wins the Design Award in the Concept Cars and Prototypes Class at the event. Also launched in 2011 are the Virage and the Cygnet, a three-door hatchback designed for city living.

2012

The iconic Vanquish name returns for a new flagship GT combining world-leading design, technology and engineering to create a car that is the best Aston Martin in history.

2012

The Aston Martin DB5 makes its sixth James Bond appearance, helping Skyfall become the UK’s most successful film ever.

2013

Aston Martin celebrates its 100th birthday and begins a year of centenary celebrations at its Gaydon headquarters and around the world.