A name practically synonymous with Britain and the legendary fictional spy James Bond, Aston Martin was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. Martin was one of the early race car drivers and he and Bamford decided they wanted to start making their own cars, the first having been constructed out of a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini with a Coventry-Simplex engine. Between the wars, the company went bankrupt, but was ultimately saved by Sir David Brown, who bought Aston Martin and began transforming it into the luxury car company we know today. So what interesting facts are there about this British icon? Quite a lot.
Quicker than Quick
The Aston Martin One-77 has been the fastest car from the firm, reaching a speed of 220.007 MPH.
Bloody Germans (Don’t Mention the War!)
The company wasn’t in production for two years before “war were declared” and production shut down in 1915. Both Martin and Baamford joined the military and the company’s machinery was sold to Sopworth Aviation Company.
Give it a “D” and a “B”
The DB models have been some of Aston Martin’s most well-known. The first production model was the DB1 (also known as the 2-Litre Sports) in 1948. The DB3 was the firm’s first whole race car and was produced from 1950 – 1953. Meanwhile, the most famous of these models is the DB5, first driven by James Bond in the super-popular film Goldfinger. The film’s success and real launching of the Bond franchise inevitably tied the car to its fictional driver and it has gone on to appear in several other Bond films including Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Casino Royale, and Skyfall. Other models from the series to appear in the Bond films include the DBS in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the DBS V12 in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. The DB10 is set to make an appearance in the next film, Spectre
£1 Million, Mr. Bond
The original DB5 from Goldfinger, driven by Sir Sean Connery, was originally sold for only £5,000. When it was sold at auction in 2006, it reached seven figures, coming in at one million pounds.
The DB series isn’t the only model to appear in Bond films. The V8 Vanquish made an appearance in The Living Daylights and the V12 Vanquish (with ridiculous camouflage gadget) appeared in Die Another Day.
Every year, the Town of Le Mans, France hosts a grueling 24-hour endurance race on a closed circuit known as the Circuit de la Sarthe. The first time an Aston Martin car participated was in 1928 with the First Series. A car from the firm would not win the race until 1951, when three separate DB2 models placed first, second, and third.
Join the Club
The Aston Martin Owners Club is celebrating its 80th year in 2015. There are 20 divisions of the club worldwide and it regularly puts on events for its members and even has a shop with bespoke Aston Martin items for those quite keen on such things.
One Last Bond Fact
The most recent Bond, Daniel Craig, actually has a free pass at the Aston Martin factory. He can drive any Aston on the test track any time he wants. He doesn’t feel inclined to take any home, though, as it just isn’t the same in the city. “I could drive it faster and more furiously (on the track) than anywhere on the road. I live in London (and) it doesn’t make any sense to drive an Aston Martin there. I’ve nowhere to park it.”
It’s a Record!
Speaking of the Aston Martin DBS and Casino Royale, the car actually set a record during production of the film. In the scene where Bond crashes the car after swerving to avoid a tied-up Vesper Lind, the car rolled 7 times. The Guinness Book of World confirmed it as a record for most cannon rolls by a car on 5 November 2006.
Made in Britain
Ford Motor Company became a shareholder in 1987 and eventually came to own the company with a majority share. The company was made part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, modernized the manufacturing process, and began to really ramp up production. After about 20 years of having a major stake in Aston Martin, Ford sold a majority of its shares to Prodrive founder David Richards, Aston Martin collector John Sinders, and Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co, two international investment companies headquartered in Kuwait for $925 million. However, Ford still owns 8% of the firm.