Out now: the Autocade Yearbook 2024
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Aston Martin
Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024

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Aston Martin was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The Aston part of the name came from the Aston Clinton hillclimb. The first car to bear the Aston–Martin marque was a modified Isotta Fraschini, but the first produced car came in 1915. Production was halted due to the Great War and the machinery was sold to the Sopwith Aviation Company.

After the war, the company attempted to start again but failed twice, in 1924 and 1925, with the factory closing in 1926. Bamford left in 1920 and Martin in 1926. Augustus Bertelli and investors took control of the company in 1926, developing numerous successful models, but financial problems returned by 1932. Civilian production stopped for World War II, with Aston Martin making aircraft components.

David Brown Ltd. bought Aston Martin in 1947 along with Lagonda, and in 1955 it acquired Tickford. The companies were not financially rewarding for Brown, but he persisted before selling the business in the early 1970s. During this era, Aston Martin contested Le Mans and developed the famous DB models, such as the DB4, DB5, DB6 and DBS.

In 1972 and 1975, Aston Martin passed to various owners, and during the decade, with the 1973 fuel crisis, it seemed the company would cease to exist. Its next saving grace came with new shareholders in 1980, Victor Gauntlett via Pace Petroleum and Tim Hearley of CH Industrials, who became 50–50 owners in 1981, with Gauntlett as executive chairman.

Tickford developed some specials for other companies to keep the money rolling in. In 1983–4, various moves saw Gauntlett’s share at 25 per cent, with the Livanos family holding the majority. Gauntlett bought a stake in Zagato. Ford took a stake in 1987, ensuring the company’s future.

However, Ford’s own troubles meant that the profitable Aston Martin company had to be divested in 2007 to an investment consortium.


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