Late in 1912 Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford formed a partnership, which became unsurprisingly incorporated as Bamford and Martin Ltd, for the purpose of manufacturing bespoke automobiles. A warehouse was duly secured in Henniker Mews, South Kensington, London, and the enterprise was incorporated on 15 January 1913. However, when the War of 1914-1918 beckoned, both Bamford and Martin ceased their manufacturing operations to join the war effort.
Following the cessation of hostilities, the pair moved to premises in Abingdon Road but just five years later the company fell into administration. The company was rescued by Renwick and Bertelli whereupon it moved once more until production was stopped again due to WWII. Suffering limited damage during the London Blitz, the company found a new owner after the war (1947) in one David Brown, who also purchased the Lagonda company. Brown then purchased the Tickford concern in 1954, moving his company to the town of Newport Pagnell where the DB4 was manufactured as from 1958.
The DBR1 won the World Sports Car Championship with victories in the Nürburgring 1000km and at Goodwood in 1959, but the crowning glory that year was the outright victory at the Le Mans 24 Hour with Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori driving an Aston Martin DBR1. A new era was born when Sean Connery, as James Bond, drove a DB5 in the iconic spy film Goldfinger in 1965, a relationship with the world famous film series, which runs to this day.
David Brown sold Aston Martin in 1972 and the company went through a series of owners as its fortunes waxed and waned until, when in 1987, Ford stepped in and bought the operation. Through its American parent’s investment, the DB7 was launched which transformed the brand once again. In 2000 Dr. Ulrich Bez became the CEO and so began a period of innovation and progress through improved manufacturing processes, and in 2005 Aston Martin once again returned to the race track with its DBR9. Two years later Ford divested, selling the company to an investment consortium led by chairman Dave Richards.
Between 2009-2012, a number of important new models were introduced by Aston Martin including the four-door Rapide which was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, as well as the V12 Vantage, DBS Volante and the One-77. 2011 saw the launch of the V12 Zagato, the result of a rekindled relationship with the famous Milan automotive design house Zagato. In 2012 the Vanquish name returned as the ultimate grand tourer, taking its place as the brand’s flagship model.
In the UK, a week-long Aston Martin festival will take place from 15 July to 21 July. Designed to appeal to owners and enthusiasts of the brand, the Centenary Week will include ‘open house’ activities at Aston Martin’s exclusive Gaydon headquarters, including factory-based events and driving tours. In addition, appearances at iconic events throughout 2013 including the Nürburgring 24-Hours, Silverstone Classic, Villa D’Este, Le Mans 24-Hours and Pebble Beach will ensure that the celebration is truly global.
In the past 100 years, Aston Martin has produced just over 60,000 sports cars, and it is accurately estimated that more than 90% of those are still in existence. And as the iconic brand celebrates its centenary globally, there is another anniversary to be remembered, and that is Aston Martin’s global HQ at Gaydon, the company’s first purpose-built home, is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2013 too.
Happy centenary Aston Martin!!