Founded in 1913 by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin, Bamford & Martin Ltd. produced the first Aston-Martin car in 1914, with the name ‘Aston’ being inspired by Buckinghamshire’s Aston Clinton hillclimb venue.
Aston Martin Motors Ltd. was formed in 1926 and the company relocated from Kensington to Feltham with A.C. Bertelli as a new Director. Under Bertelli’s guidance the firm’s 1½-litre sports cars enjoyed considerable success in international competition during the 1930s. The revolutionary Atom sports saloon prototype was developed shortly before WW2.
In 1947 industrialist David Brown bought both Aston Martin and Lagonda (founded 1906) and merged the two companies. Based on the Atom, the 4-cyl Two-Litre Sports (DB1) was produced in 1948 and this was followed by a series of early DB models powered by a Lagonda-designed engine.
In 1954 production moved from Feltham to Tickford Coachbuilding’s Newport Pagnell premises – Tickford now also being under Brown’s ownership.
In addition to road car manufacture, Aston Martin also produced a series of successful racing models which reached their zenith in 1959 when works DBR1 racers finished first and second in the Le Mans 24hr race with the marque also winning the World Sportscar Championship that year.
In 1972 David Brown sold Aston Martin Lagonda to the Birmingham based Company Developments Ltd., but AML went into administration in 1974 with a new consortium led by two American businessmen picking up the baton the following year. Together with Tim Hearley’s CH Industrials, Victor Gauntlett’s Pace Petroleum acquired AML in 1981, and from 1983 AML also received financial backing from the Livanos shipping family.
Ford acquired a 75% stake in AML in 1987, with this becoming a 100% holding in 1994. Produced at the TWR Group’s purpose-built factory in Bloxham, Oxfordshire, the new DB7 went on sale in the same year.
Dr. Ulrich Bez became AML’s CEO in 2000, while 2004 saw car assembly move from Newport Pagnell to an all-new, purpose-built facility at Gaydon, with engines coming from a dedicated manufacturing plant in Cologne, Germany.
In 2007 Ford sold the company to Kuwait's Investment Dar and Adeem Investment, the latter led by AML’s Chairman, David Richards. Aston Martin’s Nürburgring Test Centre became operational in 2008, while a new assembly plant in Graz, Austria opened in 2009, primarily for production of the Rapide sports saloon.
In late 2012 it was confirmed that Aston Martin would receive a £150m investment from the Italian private equity group Investindustrial in return for a 37.5% stake in the company. With Investment Dar retaining its majority shareholding, Aston Martin announced its intention to invest over £500m on new product and technology over the next five years.
On 15th January 2013 a plaque was unveiled in Henniker Mews, Chelsea, to commemorate the founding of Bamford and Martin Ltd, manufacturer of the first Aston Martin cars on the same date in 1913 – the first of Aston Martin’s many centenary events and celebrations.
In 2014, Dr Andrew Palmer was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Aston Martin Lagonda. Palmer is a British-born chartered engineer, chartered manager and businessman with 35 years of automotive industry experience. Prior to joining Aston Martin, Palmer held the post of Chief Planning Officer at Nissan Motor Co and was a member of the Nissan Executive Committee.