While its association with James Bond might be its lasting legacy, Aston Martin is actually one of the world's most historic automakers. Dating back to 1913 when it was founded by Lionel Martin, the automaker picked up its full name after racing at Aston Hill in the United Kingdom. The company stumbled along until the inter war years, when it produced a series of racing specials.
Road-going cars took a back seat until Sir David Brown bought the...
beleaguered automaker in 1947. Brown, whose initials are bestowed upon the brand's cars today, is considered by many to be its true modern day founder.
A series of sporting and touring cars brought Aston Martin to the forefront of vehicle producers in the 1950s and 1960s, but a series of misfires under various owners in the 1970s and 1980s led to Ford acquiring the brand in 1994. Integrated into Ford's similarly ill-fated Premier Automotive Group, which once also contained Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln and Volvo, Aston Martin was finally given the funding it needed to flourish. While Ford struggled to make a profit on Aston Martin, the company entered its first era of true growth since the David Brown period.
With Ford's own profits dwindling, the Michigan automaker sold Aston Martin to a consortium of investors in 2007. Since then, Aston Martin has expanded its lineup to include various levels of refined sports cars. The Rapide sedan was Aston Martin's first four-door since the notoriously unreliable Lagonda.
While Aston Martin is proud of its Gaydon, United Kingdom, design and assembly facility, the company has contracted with Magna Steyr to build cars in Austria.