Historic Car Brands

Aston Martin

Banford & Martin was a Singer agent in London in 1913, when Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford decided to produce their own car brand. Martin raced a tuned Singer 10 at Aston Hill, so that reference was incorporated in ‘Aston Martin’.

The first Aston Martin in 1914 used a 1.4-litre, Coventry-Simplex four-cylinder engine in an Isotta-Fraschini voiturette chassis. The first true Aston Martin was released after WW I, in 1919, using a 1.5-litre side-valve engine.

1924 Aston Martin side-valve tourer – Rex Gray

An overhead-camshaft and 16-valve versions were soon developed and had some racing and record-setting success that led to the sale of more than 50 cars, but the company was in financial difficulties. It was rescued by cash from Count Lou Zborowski, who died in 1924, at Monza, behind the wheel of a Mercedes. 

Then followed a partial rescue by Lady Charnwood, but bereft of benefactor, Aston Martin was wound up a few weeks after the 1925 Motor Show. Later that year the company was bought by Bill Renwick and other investors, including Lady Charnwood and moved to Middlesex, where it remained until 1957.

1933 Aston Martin Le Mans – Jens Koster

Bill Renwick had already developed a car, with his business partner, ‘Bert’ Bertelli. This R&B model was powered by an overhead-camshaft 1.5-litre four that proved to be the basis for many Aston Martin racing successs in the 1926-35 period.

The cars included the T-type, International, Le Mans, MKII and Ulster. In 1937 the two-litre 15/98 and its racing derivative, the Speed Model were developed.

Financial instability continued at Aston Martin, however and, after liaisons with Frazer Nash and Lance Prudeaux Brune, it was sold to Sir Arthur Sullivan. During WW II Aston Martin produced aircraft components.

Aston Martin DB2-4 Mark I – Thomas Doerfer

The first post-war Aston Martin was powered by a relatively pedestrian two-litre pushrod engine, but did feature independent front suspension. Only a few were made before the company was sold once again, to David Brown Ltd. The engine was fitted into an experimental space-frame and the model was dubbed, DB1.

David Brown had also acquired Lagonda, with its W O Bentley-designed, twin-cam 2.6-litre engine design, so the Lagonda engine was slotted into a space-frame, fitted with an aerodynamic body and became the Aston Martin DB2.

1957 Aston Martin DBR1 – Brian Snelson

The series of DB racing cars – DB2/4, DB3, DB3S – produced moderate success, but the big breakthrough came in 1959, when the Shelby/Salvadori 300hp DBR won at Le Mans and also collected the Sports Car Constructors’ Championship.

The 1959 DB4 really set Aston Martin on the European Grand Touring path. It was powered by a detuned version of the race-winning Tadek Marek-designed 3.7-litre, aluminium block and head, twin-cam, in-line six cylinder engine. That engine, enraged to four litres, powered successive DB5 and DB6 models through the 1960s.

Aston-Martin DB4 – Luc106

An all-new, Marek-designed aluminium V8 was released in 1969 and powered Aston Martin models until 2000. 

David Brown seems to have tired of Aston Martin’s continuing financial dramas, so in 1972 he paid off its debts and handed the company to Company Developments. However, the post Oil Shock crisis in 1973 and the loss of US sales caused by emissions requirements set the company broke once more, in 1974.

DB4GT Zagato – Brian Snelson

Rescue came from a team of investors, headed by North American businessman, Peter Sprague and Aston Martin Lagonda re-opened in late 1975. New models were the V8 Vantage, in 1977 and the Volante in 1978.

1963–1965 Aston Martin DB5 – Olli 1800

Ownership of Aston Martin happened again, in 1981, with Pace Petroleum and Case Holland Industrial (CHI) becoming 50:50 owners. Lagonda became the world’s fastest four-seat car. Ownership wrangles blighted the company for the next four years, with the only publicity highlight being a return of Aston Martin to the James Bond 007 movie world.

2001 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage Coupe – KFP1921

In 1991 Ford took over Aston Martin and, in 1994, opened a new factory to produce the DB7. By 1998, some 2000 DB7s had been sold and, by 2002, the 6000th DB7 landmark was reached – more cars than all the previous Aston Martin models put together. The DB7 was upgraded by the introduction of the V12-powered Vantage and Vanquish models, and, in 2005 the Vantage V8 was re-introduced.

Also, in 2005, Aston Martin re-entered sports car racing, with the DBR9.

Aston Martin DBR9 – Fabe56

Ford sold Aston Martin in 2007 and, after a period of all too familiar ownership wrangles, concluded a partnership with Daimler AG in 2013. Increasingly, since then, Aston Martins have acquired more Mercedes-Benz components, including powertrains and electronics.

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