Newport Pagnell Keeps Aston Martin's Heritage Alive

Aston-Martin-Newport-Pagnell Aston Martin has been producing vehicles for 101 years now. The automaker came to be back in 1913. This means that Aston Martin predates both Bentley and Jaguar. Bentley was founded in 1919 while Jaguar arrived in 1922. That gives Aston Martin a six-year production head start over Bentley and a nine-year advantage over Jaguar. Aston Martin, however, is a small builder of bespoke beauties, and its total production figures might surprise you. Over the course or 101 years, Aston Martin has produced around 70,000 vehicles… total. Bentley has produced that many in the last nine years. Jaguar could knock out that many vehicles in a year. I don’t tell you this to diminish what Aston Martin has done over its 101 year history, but rather use these data points to show you just how small the automaker really is. What they are big on, however, is building beautiful machines… and at the Aston Martin Works facility in Newport Pagnell, hand-crafted classics are coming back to life. Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (109) That bit of machinery in the photo above? It’s an English Wheel, and it’s quite fitting that I come across one in… well, the UK. It’s an old tool used to turn sheets of aluminum into shapely body panels. The learning curve to master such a tool is steep, and the time it takes to actually produce an entire front end for something like a DB5 is long. It takes approximately 220 hours to go from a flat panel to an entire front clip. It takes about 25 hours to make an entire Ford Fiesta. Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (111) The Aston Martin Works facility is located in the town of Newport Pagnell. This borough of Milton Keynes has been associated with Aston Martin for 59 years. Back in 1955, David Brown built a factory for his recently purchased High Class Motor Business. It was a smart location since it’s right near the M1 motorway. Back in the early days of the factory, the M1 had no speed limit and Aston Martin engineers used to blast down it at night to test their cars. The 200 mile per hour mark was hit and broken on multiple occasions. The original office building still stands across the street from the Aston Martin Works facility. Those old doorways and windows still prove to be a perfect fit alongisde the glorious machines being rebuilt, restored, and returned back to service on the motorways of the world. And the cars are being restored in a manner akin to how they were built. You can’t simply set these cars to an assembly line. They’ll be torn down in one room, and any body panels or chassis bits will be created from scratch. A larger, more open garage space will see all the mechanicals brought back to life, and a third area is dedicated to all of the trim work. It’s the type of work that requires serious skills that fewer folks posses in our modern world. It’s why apprenticeship is extremely important to make sure the Works facility is able to continue its mission in the future. How long have the 100 or so employees been at their trade? One man named John Groot has been employed by Aston Martin for the last 46 years, and he’s a master in the trim shop. He recently set about restoring the leather work on a DB7, and when he removed the older hides he noticed his name on the back of the leather. He’d been the man to initially apply the interior of the car when it rolled off the production line years back. Groot is going to retire this year, which means others have to be trained to make sure they can match his level of skill and detail. Now imagine you have to do the same thing but with the body work as well. They don’t exactly offer up English Wheel classes down at the local Wyotech. (They should though because that would be awesome.) Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (130) Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (140) If you have a vintage Aston Martin in need of some love, the Works team is who you talk to. If it’s basic service, a team member can actually be dispatched to your home. This crew is called The Flying Spanners, and no they don’t have any t-shirts for sale with a logo… I asked. If the car needs a bit more than some basic maintenance, your best bet is to ship it to Newport Pagnell. That’s where it will get the care and attention it deserves. It won’t be cheap, but we’re not talking about bringing a Honda Civic back to life here, either. Should you require a full restoration, it should be clear that this facility can handle that as well. In fact, they excel at it. Surprisingly, a restoration has a fixed price. It will cost you 330,000 Pounds plus any applicable tax. If you’re car needs a bit more than the one next to it, it doesn’t matter as you and the other owner are paying the same amount. The average time to complete a full resto is between 18 and 24 months. You’re going to have to wait an initial 18 months just to get in the door though, as there is a bit of a waiting list at the moment. The maximum amount of cars that the Newport Pagnell facility can restore at a given time is 25. Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (162) Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (171) Some of the restored cars wind up right in an on-site showroom, and can be purchased directly from Works. Do you like the DB6 shooting brake you see below? That will set you back 750,o00 Pounds. There was, however, an early V8 Vantage from the ’70s with an asking price of around 40,000 Pounds. Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (185) There are two sides to the Newport Pagnell facility. The classic machines are wrenched on in a garage featuring the appropriate tools, and in an atmosphere befitting of the cars. It feels just right, smells perfect, and is exactly the place you’d want your old Aston getting a good once over. The other side, however, is where the more modern machines can receive an equal amount of love. The room is cleaner than your favorite restaurant, has modern equipment, and services everything from a “standard” DB7 up to the ultra-rare One-77 supercar. While I was touring the facility, Aston Martin had five examples of the One-77 currently in house. Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (257) Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (258) The Aston Martin heritage facility is a truly amazing place tucked into a quiet town off the M1. Newport Pagnell continues to remain an important part of Aston Martin’s history, and it’s future. While the new cars are all being put together at the Gaydon facility (more on that later, as I was almost run over by a robot there…), it’s here in Newport Pagnell where true craftsmen are making sure that future generations will continue to enjoy these rare, bespoke, beautiful vehicles. Enough from me though… try to take in the place by way of a few more photos.   Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (273) Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (275) Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (277) Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (283) Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (289) Max Earey Aston Martin USA Media (291) Photos courtesy of Aston Martin/(The very talented) Max Earey

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