So What's Happening at Aston Martin?
British iconic brand Aston Martin has always been pretty high on anyone with an interest in cars wishlists. Due in part perhaps to the James Bond connection but also, they have made some beautiful cars. From the Aston Martin DB4 and DB5 through to the recent and stunning Aston Martin Vanquish, most of the cars that Aston has created have been poster favorites.
After the DB7 was discontinued, Aston started to make - shall we say more serious cars again. The V8 Vantage and the DB9 were well received, partly because of their looks and styling, partly due to modern manufacturing techniques and increased reliability and partly due to the performance which, whilst not mind-blowing was certainly respectable for this class of the car.
The DB9 especially sold well and the Vantage V8 saw its performance gradually increase, initially from factory upgrade packs then engine capacity increase, leading finally to the shoehorning of the V12 into the Vantage. A few ends of line specials were manufactured that offered true blistering sportscar performance.
The Vanquish then the upgraded S were recipients of the Volvo and Ford parts bin but, such as the looks and style of the Aston Vanquish that it managed to get away with it, and the Vanquish is already becoming something of a classic.
Then along came to the absolute mouth-wateringly gorgeous DBS, launched through the Casino Royale Bond movie where it certainly had a lot of exposure, including apparently a record number of barrel rolls for any car. Again the Aston Martin DBS is becoming very sought after on the used car market and may well become a classic Aston in years to come.
Jumping forward and following Andy Palmer's (CEO of Aston Martin) desire to launch new models year on year, the look and feel of Aston Martin - to some anyway including the author, has changed significantly. Just when we start to get used to the model range nomenclature the Vanquish and DBS morph into different models with different places in the range. The DBS Superleggera...
So, with baited breath, I was keen to see the current line up at Goodwood earlier this year. Interesting to say the least.
Aston Martin, in my view anyway has always produced clean lines and stylish GT and sports cars. Real things of beauty that stand the test of time. The first view of the DBS Superleggera was breathtaking, but for different reasons. Aston Martin seems to have adopted the route that Ferrari and Lamborghini have championed for the last decade. That is, larger cars sprout body adornments at every opportunity.
The Aston staff were proudly blipping throttles to expectant crowds that appreciated the flaming exhausts, but is this really Aston? When I asked the factory staff about the direction change they declared it to be market-driven. Interestingly, when Bentley is having such success creating smaller, stylish cars with ample performance.
The Vantage was no different. Huge in comparison to the previous model, with flares, sills, and spoilers everywhere.
As I understand, these cars do not have any waiting lists to buy. One reason may be the significant price hike that puts them into the very top category of exotica. Another may be that, in my view, they simply are not Aston Martins as we knew them. Is this a good thing or bad? Time will tell.
Aston's share price since going public has certainly not performed as expected. All hope now rests on the Aston Martin DBX selling well, which it most likely will due to the sector that Aston is entering. And it certainly looks the part. The DBX looks set to become the man selling a model with the sports car sales becoming more of a rarity.
Let's hope that I am wrong and that these new models gain popularity. Aston Martin has had enough ups and downs over the years, it would be great to see some real stability and a longer-term, secure future.
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