Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings plcis a British independent manufacturer of luxury sports cars and grand tourers. Headquarters and main production site are in Gaydon, Warwickshire, England on the site of a former RAF V Bomber airbase.
Aston Martin sports cars are regarded as a British cultural icon. Aston Martin has held a Royal Warrant as purveyor of motorcars to the Prince of Wales since 1982.
The original company was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The first car to be named Aston Martin was created by fitting a four-cylinder Coventry-Simplex engine to the chassis of a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini.
After multiple changes in management over the years Bamford & Martin went bankrupt in 1924 and the new owners renamed the company Aston Martin Motors in 1926.
The Aston Martin name derives from the co-founder’s surname plus a reference to the Aston Hill Climb in Buckinghamshire, England, which was active from 1904 until 1925
The company continued to struggle and was rescued in 1947 by David Brown Limited (established 1860), a privately owned gear and machine tools manufacturer. David Brown also acquired the Lagonda Company (without its factory) – mainly for its 2.6-litre Bentley-designed engine.
Lagonda was a British luxury car marque established in 1906 and had been named after the Shawnee settlement “Lagonda” in modern-day Springfield, Ohio. One of its famous models, the 1936 Lagonda LG45R Rapide sports racing two-seater amassed quite an impressive racing resume over nearly eight decades of use. Recently the car sold for $2.5 m, setting a new record for the Lagonda brand at auction.
Under David Brown, Aston Martin began to build the classic “DB” series of luxury sports cars. The Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports was a sports car sold from 1948 to 1950. It was the first product of the company under the new owner and is retrospectively known as the DB1. Just 15 were sold.
In April 1950, they announced planned production of their Le Mans prototype to be called the DB2, followed by the DB2/4 in 1953, the DB2/4 MkII in 1955, the DB Mark III in 1957 and the Italian-styled 3.7 L DB4 in 1958. While these models helped Aston Martin establish a good racing pedigree, the DB4 stood out and led to the famous DB5 in 1963
Aston Martin also became associated with expensive grand touring cars in the 1950s and 1960s, and stayed true to its grand touring style with the DB6 (1965–70), and DBS (1967–1972).
The Aston Vantage (1972–1973), is a straight-6 powered version of the DBS. It was the last Aston Martin to come equipped with wire wheels and the last straight-6 Aston Martin until the 1993 DB7.
Aston Martin continued to be financially troubled and changed ownership again in 1975. The new owners pushed Aston Martin into modernizing its line.
The 1977 Aston Martin V8 Vantage was hailed as “Britain’s First Supercar” (sometimes nicknamed “British Muscle car”) for its 170 mph top speed, impressive for the time. The convertible Volante, which followed in 1986, was featured in the James Bond 1987 movie “The Living Daylights”.
After completing a financial turnaround Aston Martin went public in 2018 and is now traded on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
Aston Martin cars have been featured in 12 James Bond films, most famously the DB5 which appeared in “Goldfinger” (1964), and 7 other films.
In 2017, a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1/1 sold at a Sotheby’s auction at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for $22.5 m, which made it the most expensive British car ever sold at an auction. According to Sotheby’s, the car was previously driven by Carroll Shelby and Stirling Moss. In addition to being one of the most gorgeous cars ever produced, the DBR1 gave Aston Martin its one and only 24 Hours of Le Mans win.