Happy birthday Aston Martin

Aston Martin 100th Celebrations: The Coal Scuttle A3 and latest Vanquish at Gardon, Warwickshire.
Aston Martin 100th Celebrations: The Coal Scuttle A3 and latest Vanquish at Gardon, Warwickshire.

On January 15 1913, Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded a new automotive venture. They called the company Bamford & Martin which later became Aston Martin, acknowledging Robert Bamford’s success at the Aston Clinton Hillclimb in Buckinghamshire, where he had successfully raced their very first cars.

Bamford and Martin began their business in Chelsea’s Henniker Mews in London, becoming well known as providers of sporting machines to enthusiastic racers and discerning enthusiasts.

In the century that followed Aston Martin has come to represent many things, from sporting prowess through to technical innovation, beautiful design, fine craftsmanship and superior performance.

In Aston Martin's first 90 years the company built fewer than 15,000 cars. The open bodied two-seater sports specials of the pre-war years gave way to the David Brown era of the 1950s and beyond which saw the introduction of the legendary DB2/4, DB4, DB5, DB6 and DBS, before the V8 Vantage and Virage led Aston Martin to the DB7, original Vanquish and on into the modern era.

A second celebration sees Aston Martin mark its first decade at Gaydon, in Warwickshire, moving in to its purpose-built premises on 3 January 2003. Since that date Aston Martin, overseen by CEO Dr Ulrich Bez, has produced 45,000 cars to critical and commercial success.

The original DB9 and Vantage were joined by the Rapide, DBS, Virage and now the timeless new DB9 and ultimate GT, the Vanquish – Aston Martin's latest flagship sports car. 

British luxury sports car maker Aston Martin is marking its first 100 years next year with a series of UK and international celebrations highlighting the success of the brand.


January 15 marks the official incorporation of the company 100 years ago and to commemorate the historic occasion the oldest surviving Aston Martin – A3 – and a stunning new Vanquish, the brand’s ultimate GT, will take their places at a photo call at Henniker Mews in Chelsea – the original home of Aston Martin – where a commemorative plaque will be unveiled.

On the evening of January 15 the Aston Martin Heritage Trust Walter Hayes Memorial Lecture will take place in central London with A3 and Vanquish again guest starring alongside actor Sir John Standing as Lionel Martin, telling the story of his early days and his experience of making the first Aston Martin in Lionel Martin’s own words.

The centrepiece of the celebrations will occur much later in the year however, with a week-long festival of all things Aston Martin which is set to take place from July 15 to 21. Designed to appeal to owners and enthusiasts of the brand, the Centenary Week will include open house activities at Aston Martin’s exclusive Gaydon headquarters, including factory-based events and driving tours.

The week will culminate in a 1000-guest ''birthday party'' on July 20 and a spectacular Centenary Concours event in central London on July 21. It will feature the 100 most iconic cars in a concours display and up to 1000 Aston Martins forming the largest gathering in the 100-year history of the marque.

A number of centenary drives will also be held to coincide with the birthday party and the concours event. These will include a James Bond-themed route around England and Wales taking in a number of the iconic Bond film locations, a drive through the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and a rally through six European countries in six days. In the US, the Pebble Beach centenary drive programme offers an opportunity to visit some of California’s most scenic regions before spending the weekend at the legendary Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

For further updates view the centenary web page and sign up to receive the newsletter www.astonmartin.com/100.


Bearing in mind Aston Martin's festivities, it's about the time we start organising our motoring and motor racing bucketlists for 2013, and I've stumpled upon a cracker.

It appears that travel gurus Warwick Beatson and Jacqui Collins are organising a tour to Europe this year that thanks to the shifting of the Goodwood Festival of Speed's weekend to July 12 to 14 means fans will be able to take in the British and German Grands Prix either side of the great festival which has its 20th anniversary this year. 

They tell me there are factory  and motor museum visits, smashing hotels and an expert guide in the form of Owen Evans. Go to hcbtravel.co.nz and see for yourselves.

I was fortunate enough to 'do' the Goodwood Revival in 2012. The Revival takes place in September and involves the full race circuit albeit in more historical vehicles. A word of warning, for any of these events accommodation is at a premium and I had to commute almost 200km to the venue as a result. So it's worth giving the experts at HCB a call, if you don't want to sleep rough.


After an encouranging drop from 375 killed in 2010 to 284 killed in 2011, a figure that's the lowest since 1952, at the time of going to press, the as yet unaudited toll for 2012 was standing at 304. While the upturn is nowhere near the massive down turn of 2011, it remains worrying that whatever the number, we don't really know why it should be up one year and yet down the next.

There appears to be no logical reason why the year 2011's 284 killed when taken on its own was a record low, despite the fact that the Christmas holiday period at the end of that year had 18 people killed. Meanwhile this year with 304 souls taken so far is manifestly worse, though the deaths over the festivities at time of writing numbered just four.

I do know that the presence of larger numbers of police over the holidays does have an effect on the traffic behaviour. The mere sight of a parked or moving patrol car has brake lights aflicker and lane disipline tightened to a fault, proving perhaps that we do know what we should be doing, but don't do it unless we're being observed.

Which is why I can't work out whether its the piecemeal application of a 4kmh speed tolerance value on public holidays that keeps the death and injury rate down, or the extra personnel brought in to police it.