Fondateur(s) / Founder(s) : Lionel Martin & Robert Bamford
1922 1925 Bamford and Martin Ltd., London
1926 1929 Aston Martin Motors Ltd., Feltham, Middlesex
1929 1957 Aston Martin Ltd., Feltham, Middlesex
1958 1987 Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., Newport Pagnell, Bucks
1987- Ford group
Founded in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford in a small West London workshop, the company gained the name "Martin" after Bamford’s early retirement, then added with "Aston" as its cars had great success in Aston Clinton Hill Climb race.
Despite of frequent change of owners, the tiny maker was unknown until the DB2 came in 1950. It started the DB series, all powered by a straight six engine. From 2.6 litres to 3.6 litres in DB4, then 4.0 litres in DB5 which was starred in James Bond’s movie "Gold Finger". The DB series got a reputation as the finest British sports car because of its balance between performance and luxury (Lotus was too raw), also because of its good craftsmanship and tasteful styling.
During the 50’s and 60’s, Aston was quite active in motor racing. Its DBR1/300 won the World Sports Car Championship in 1959. DB2 won a class victory in Le Mans. The DB4GT Zagato also fought fiercely with Ferrari 250GTO. However, the lack of fund and development prevent Aston from more success.
Through out the years, Aston Martin collected more name plates, such as luxurious car maker Lagonda and coachbuilder Tickford.
When the V8-engined DBS launched in 1969, the Aston Martin was still one of the most important sports car specialists in the world. People still compare its cars with Ferrari and Maserati. Through the 70’s, more change of ownership resulted in lack of research and development. AM became relying on the old tradition of styling, craftsmanship and luxury to keep the old customers delighted. It was regarded as another Bentley, just faster and rarer. Technology lagged behind the competition.
A 186mph supercar called "Zagato" was built by coach-builder Zagato in 1986 based on the Vantage, but that didn’t cure the deep rooted problem in Aston.
When the Virage went into production in 1990, the build quality was also in doubt, thanks to the use of Ford’s parts such as rear lights. Ford bought 75% shares in 1987 and funded the development of a new car, DB7. Because Aston no longer had the R&D experts as it was in the 50’s and 60’s, the new car development was handed to Tom Walkinshaw’s TWR. Production also took place in the modern factory of TWR.
Today, the old Newport Pagnell factory builds just the smaller volume V8 models. Aston Martin has lost its independent product development ability, so it might be more appropriate to see it as a brand name under the control of Ford rather than a realistic sports car specialists.