Aston Martin Lagonda Limited is a British manufacturer of luxury performance cars. The name was derived from the Aston Clinton hill climb and one of the company founders, Lionel Martin, when Martin had achieved great success in the hill climb competition up Aston Hill. Aston Clinton is a village close to the main A41 road in Buckinghamshire, England. The Aston Martin headquarters are found at Gyadon, Warwickshire, England. Since 2007, the company is owned by a British consortium led by David Richards of Prodrive.
Early Aston Marin history
In 1912, Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford joined forces under the name Bamford & Martin and began selling Singer produced cars from their base in Callow Street, London. The two also serviced Calthorpe and GWK vehicles. When Lionel Martin met great success with his special in the Aston Clinton hill climb, Martin and Bamford decided to start making their own vehicles.
In 1913, the company that would produce Aston Martin cars was founded by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford and the first car to be produced consisted of a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini chassis and a four-cylinder Coventry-Simplex engine. The company moved to Henniker Place in Kensington where they finished their first car in 1915. The onset of World War I halted production – Bamford joined the Royal Army Service Corps and Martin served in the Admiralty. All their machinery was bought by the Sopwith Aviation Company.
After World War I, Martin and Bamford refounded their company and based it at Abingdon Road in Kensington. They designed a new car that would carry the Aston-Martin name, but Bamford left the company in 1920. That same year, Count Louis Zborowski decided to invest money in Aston Martin and the company was once again revitalized. In 1922, Bamford & Martin produced cars became famous when they competed in the French Grand Prix and set world speed and endurance records at Brooklands.
In 1924, Bamford & Martin went bankrupt, but the company was purchased by Lady Charnwood and her son John Benson was put on the board. In 1925, the company failed again and in 1926 the factory closed down. When this happened, Lionel Martin decided to leave. Later that same year, Lady Charnwood returned together with a number or rich investors, and they bought the company and renamed it Aston Martin Motors. The company was moved to Feltham, where it could take over the former Citroën plant. John Benson was once again active in the company, and he decided to bring in Augusto Bertelli as their designer.
After a few years of racing success with the 1929 Aston Martin International and the 1932 Aston Martin International Le Mans, the company was once again facing financial problems but was rescued by L. Prideaux Brune who provided it with funding for one year, before selling it to Sir Arthur Sutherland.
In 1936, Aston Martin Motors decided to focus their attention on road cars, not racing cars, but the onset of World War II naturally halted car production and the company would instead produce aircraft components.