The Turbulent History of Aston Martin: An Overview for Students in Auto Technology School

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The name Aston Martin conjures up images of sleek cars outfitted with clever contraptions, and the luxury and intrigue of James Bond. But while the idea of the Aston Martin has been untarnished as a high-end model car, the company itself has had a less than polished history, hitting more than a few economic speedbumps that would have put any other company out of business.

Despite its financial difficulties, Aston Martin has kept its reputation as a signature high-end British car manufacturer, with many of its sports cars still regarded as prominent cultural icons. Today, the company continues its international presence as an eminent provider of luxury models. If you want to take a look into the history of Aston Martin and what it means for automotive school, read on to find out more.

1913 – 1947: Innovators in Automotive Technology

Aston Martin, in fact, didn’t even begin using the same name it became famous for. Originally founded in 1913 by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin under the label Bamford & Martin, the company rolled out its first car, the Aston Martin, named in honour of racing specials at Aston Hill that Martin participated in.

After stopping production during the first World War, the built-for-speed cars began breaking records in 1922 with cars featuring a 16-valve twin cam engine and either a long and short chassis, giving it the classic form immediately recognizable to many students in an automotive technology program.

Production expenses soared, however, and it went bankrupt for the first time in 1924, and again in 1925 and 1926. It was then bought by Augustus Bertelli, who renamed it Aston Martin Motors, and introduced an overhead-cam four-cylinder engine with patented combustion chamber design, which sent the cars speeding ahead in the national and international motor racing scene.

The David Brown Years: Power, Beauty, and Soul

Just as World War I threw a wrench in Aston Martin’s manufacturing gears, World War II also sent automotive production into a standstill, and it switched instead to creating aircraft components. In 1947, David Brown Limited bought Aston Martin, and soon began creating the eponymous “DB” series of cars.

With the 2.6-litre W.O. Bentley-designed engine (yes, that Bentley), Aston Martin solidified its racing pedigree in the 1950s and 60s with its DB2 to DB4 models, culminating in the famous DB5 in 1963, which was then subsequently featured in seven James Bond films.

Despite its fame, a lack of working capital—the inherent value of production labour—and a struggle to meet America’s exhaust emission requirements gave the company difficulty. A worldwide recession in 1973 completely halted Aston Martin’s production in the US, and threatened to close the company for good.

The State of Aston Martin Today for Students in Auto Technology School

The financial history of Aston Martin is complicated to say the least. Until recently, the company has been privately owned, which means that its debts are easy to accumulate and harder to get rid of. An economic rebound in the 1970s was quickly voided by diminishing sales in the 80s. Despite the company being granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment by the Prince of Wales, worldwide sales shrank, with only 30 produced in 1982.

Aston Martin renewed the DB series 1993, and the 2005 reintroduction of the classic V8 engine allowed the company to compete in a larger market. This also led to Aston Martin’s return to motor racing that same year.

A drop in DB9 sales led to insufficient funds to develop newer models, and Aston Martin was hit with a pre-tax loss of nearly £162.8 million. After a rise in sales and the company’s announcement to go public in 2018, however, Aston Martin has rebounded, and is already racing ahead into a promising future. Who knows, there may be many more twists and turns to this history, which you might hear about during your career after auto technology school.

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