Here's what you need to know about the luxury sports car maker.
Heritage is the cornerstone of the Aston Martin brand. The original company was formed by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford in 1913, and the pair sold Singer cars as well as raced in the Aston Hill Climb event. In 1915, they built their own car that earned the nickname 'Coal Scuttle.' Before World War I, the company was named Aston Martin for Lionel Martin and the Aston race. After World War I, business resumed with new race cars and some road cars. Since 1924, the company has changed hands through Aston Martin's ups and downs. However, the basis of the business has remained a constant - quality, hand-built performance cars. With almost a century of Aston Martin history to sift through, here are the main facts you should know.
The DB line of cars is the most recognized of Aston Martin's products, and currently, the DBS is the brand's flagship model. D and B are the initials of David Brown, a UK businessman that bought Aston in 1947. The DB1 came about when Brown decided to buy Lagonda. He wanted the company, but he primarily wanted the engineering expertise of W.O. Bentley (yes, that Bentley) and his new 2.6-liter Lagonda straight-six engine. Without that, there would not have been the DB5, which became a cultural icon when it became James Bond's car in the movies.
Through the 1970s and 1980s, Aston bounced around between owners and once or twice teetered on the brink of insolvency. It needed a cash injection for its long-term survival. In May of 1987, both the owner of Aston Martin at the time and Walter Hayes, the then vice-president of Ford of Europe, were at the Mille Miglia revival event hosted by Contessa Maggi. Hayes saw the value of Aston Martin, and a discussion led to Ford taking a stake that year and by 1993 had acquired the entire company. In 1994, Ford opened a new factory for Aston and, with more models, more production, and sales, it enabled the brand to create a new flagship car for 2001 - the Ian Cullum designed V12 Vanquish. It featured a bonded aluminum composite and carbon fiber chassis designed with Lotus and a V12 based on two Ford Duratec V6 engines.
The Vanquish put Aston Martin back on the map for style, comfort, and performance. In 2004, the Vanquish S came out with 460 horsepower and could hit 60 mph in around 4.5 seconds.
Aston Martin already had a relationship with Daimler AG with its five percent stake in the brand. As part of the deal, the Aston benefitted from Mercedes technology like infotainment and navigation, but in 2016 an agreement put a Mercedes-AMG engine in the new DB11. Traditionally, Aston developed its own engines but taking advantage of AMG prepped engines changed the game for Aston. A 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 powered the entry-level car, while the V12 version used an all-new 5.2-liter lump. With 600 hp at 6,500 rpm and 516 lb-ft of torque between 1,500-5,000 rpm, the V12 propelled the DB11 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds. Since its introduction, power has been boosted, and the transmission tuned for even better performance.
The Aston Martin logo started off simply as a circle with the A and M transposed over each other. The most common explanation for the wings appearing on the new logo in 1932 was that Aston "borrowed" them from Bentley to signify speed. That's not the case. At the time, Egyptology was a popular subject for the British, and the inspiration for the wings came from the scarab beetle, which was at the center of Egypt's ancient religion. The god Khepri's name was written with a scarab hieroglyph and represented existence, manifestation, development, growth, and effectiveness. It was believed that Khepri, like the scarab beetle rolls dung, rolled the sun over the eastern horizon to bring morning.
A name that pops up a lot alongside Aston Martin is Lagonda - in fact, the company's actual name is Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC. Lagonda was originally founded as a company in 1906 by an American-born opera singer-turned engineer called Wilbur Gunn. David Brown took over the company in 1947 and moved it into the Aston Martin base of operations to restart production. Aston didn't fully bring the brand back but did resurrect the Rapide name as a sleek five-door sedan that referenced the Lagonda Rapide; the latter was produced from 1961 and was based on the DB4. In 1976, the Aston Martin Lagonda appeared and was based loosely around the Aston Martin V8.
Aston has talked about bringing the Lagonda name back as a luxury passenger car company so Aston could move into other markets while keeping the Aston Martin name for sports cars. However, only 120 units of the Taraf (meaning "ultimate luxury" in Arabic) sedan were built from 2015 to 2016. Now it looks like Lagonda will become an EV brand.
When Aston Martin talked about bringing back the Lagonda name, it previewed an SUV in 2009 that never made it to production. Instead, Aston delivered the DBX - a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8-powered performance-based luxury crossover. One criticism of the DBX is that it's not as quick as competitors, but now we have the DBX707. For the radically reworked DBX707, Aston kept the V8 instead of swapping it for a V12 for the most balanced weight distribution, but it produces 697 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque through a new lubricated wet clutch design transmission. Aston has also gone to town on the chassis and the bodywork to create the most powerful luxury SUV to hit the road at the time of writing.
After a long, long hiatus, Aston Martin returned to racing with the Aston Martin Racing team in 2004 and in partnership with the engineering group Prodrive. The team builds cars predominantly for GT racing but also entered into the Le Mans Prototype class in 2009. Aston Martin has seen its most success in the FIA World Endurance Championship by claiming several wins and titles.
Aston Martin's first foray into Formula 1 was in 1959 but it bowed out again in 1960 with poor results. The company has threatened to enter again over the years, but a team didn't materialize until 2020 when Racing Point owner and driver Lawrence Stroll bought a stake in the company. His interest in the company led to the Racing Point F1 Team being rebranded as the Aston Martin F1 Team. In 2021, the Aston Martin AMR21 was unveiled and, in its first season, managed to score fifth and second-place finishes in the Belgium and Azerbaijan Grand Prix, respectively, with Sebastian Vettel at the wheel. Lance Stroll managed to secure sixth place in the Qatar Grand Prix.