Is Your Car Really British? Part Five – Aston Martin

Sat 14th Apr 2018

The British Isles used to be one of the bastions of motor supremacy, some of the biggest car brands, names that go down in history. But no more – we may believe that the famous name brand car we are driving is as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding – unfortunately we are probably wrong.

Aston Martin
Though Aston Martin may be marketed as the quintessentially British sports car, its ownership these days is anything but. Part American, part Kuwait, part Italian, heck even Ford Motor Company has a share of the pie.

The company officially left British ownership way back in 1975, when the company, which had gone into receivership one year earlier, was sold to North American businessmen, Peter Sprague and George Minden. London businessman, Jeremy Turner also had a share at this point, and insisted that Aston Martin remained a British controlled business, though those in the know would admit that this classic brand had left the island.

Aston Martin began life in 1913, when Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded the company. They had modest success in the interwar years, producing a number of respected vehicles, however they were also a company beset by financial problems and it was in 1947 that David Brown Limited bought the company.

Under David Brown, Aston Martin went from strength-to-strength, becoming a brand which was associated with expensive grand touring cars throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The brand leapt to even further fame when a long-running love affair between itself and fictional character James Bond began. A DB5 model was used in the 1964 film Goldfinger. The car has featured in several Bond films ever since.

Though not even Bond, or an official Royal Warrant to HRH the Prince of Wales, could stop is meandering into problems and in the last quarter of the 20th century, the Aston Martin’s British brand values were diluted by foreign investment and ultimate ownership.