Aston Martin is an English-based manufacturer of high-luxury sports cars that exhibit opulent craftsmanship and strong performance. The brand is also recognized for being James Bond’s ride in multiple occasions.
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It all started in 1914 when Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford created their own car company called Aston Martin. Their first model was developed in 1915, but WWI prevented the owners from starting the car’s production.
After unsuccessful attempts to restart the business after the war, including a brief production of cars in 1922 that broke land speed records at the Brooklands circuit, Aston Martin soldiered on from 1926 without both founding members. In 1928, an Aston Martin participated for the first time in the Le Mans 24-hour race, and up until WWII, the company produced a small volume of road and race cars.
Business started picking up in 1947 after yet another change of hands. Sir David Brown bought Aston Martin and Lagonda brands, thus sharing resources.
The first car to wear the DB name, obviously hinting at the new owner’s initials, was the 4-cylinder DB1 roadster in 1948. However, the first car developed under new ownership was the DB2 coupe and roadster, presented in 1950 and powered by a 6-cylinder engine. Other variations followed throughout the decade, including the DB2/4, the DB/4 Mk II, the DB Mark III and the DB4. The 1961 DB4 GT Zagato, produced in only 20 copies, might be the most valuable Aston today.
The first Aston made famous by James Bond was the DB5, launched in 1963. Another low-volume model called the Short Chassis Volante was produced in the mid-60s, and marked the first car that wore the Volante name, which is now used to represent droptop versions of the brand’s cars. Aston Martin closed the decade with the 1967 introduction of the DBS, a coupe bigger than the DB6.
The ‘70s brought a V8 engine in the DBS, while the Vantage model appeared equipped with the company’s inline-6. The company also developed the Lagonda, a polarizing luxury sedan that boasted the industry’s first digital instrumentation. The high-performance V8 Vantage, launched in 1977, was one of the most potent production cars on the road at the time.
In 1984, Aston Martin celebrated its 10,000th car built in their tumultuous history. Another limited-run model called the V8 Zagato was offered from 1986 to 1990, equipped with a 430-horsepower version of the company’s 5.3L V8. The company changed ownership several times during the ‘70s and ’80s, and Ford eventually stepped in, acquiring 75% of the brand in 1987 and 100% in 1994.
Several models were introduced under the new reign, including the Virage Volante, the supercharged 6-cylinder DB7, the Vanquish using Aston’s first V12 engine as well as the DB7 Zagato. Meanwhile, Aston’s 30,000th car is produced in the new factory located in Gaydon, UK.
The company was sold yet again in 2007 to a consortium, and in October 2010, delivery of the 750-horsepower, V12-powered Aston Martin One-77 began; as its name suggests, total production will be of just 77 units.
Today, Aston Martin’s global product portfolio includes the Cygnet city car, the V8 Vantage coupe and Roadster, the V8 Vantage S coupe and Roadster, the V12 Vantage coupe, the DB9 coupe and Volante, the Rapide sedan, the Virage coupe and Volante as well as the DBS coupe and Volante.
The Aston Martin DB7 lays claim to being the most successful model the British performance car builder has ever created. With a sales life spanning 1994 to 2004, more than 7,000 examples of the two-door, four-seater coupe or convertible were created and sold around the world. Several variations and two engines were available.
Close your eyes and picture it: You're in Monaco, cruising along Quai Albert 1 and you're behind the wheel of a brand-spanking-new car. What car would that be? What car could possibly fit any better in a background littered with bazillion-dollar yachts and buildings?
There are worse ways to spend a Saturday evening. It's sunny, about 25 degrees Celsius in the heart of Montreal, and I'm about to be handed the key to a spanking-new Aston Martin droptop. Yes, life can be so cruel sometimes.
Next week's Los Angeles Auto Show will feature one of only 10 custom Neiman Marcus Edition cars based on the new 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante that was originally unveiled at the Pebble Beach Automotive Week this summer.
September 17th, 1964 marked the world premiere of Goldfinger, the iconic James Bond movie which featured an Aston Martin DB5.
Today at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show, Aston Martin unveiled the new V12 Vantage S and Vanquish Volante, which will go on sale around the world a few weeks from now.