It is a busy week for me. On Monday I was in Crewe, visiting Bentley Motors. Yesterday I was in Gaydon, having a second look at the Aston Martin factory.
It has been quite a few years since I was at Gaydon for a factory tour and there have been changes. The shop has recently been revamped. The cars on display at reception change every now and then. All were open, so we could lock ourselves in one of them and experience the feel and smell of a brand new Aston Martin. Trust me, there is nothing like it.
The cars on display at the start of the tour change as well. Those cars provide a vivid image to the company’s history displayed on large boards on the walls. When I visited previously there were three large boards. Now there are four and they have run out of wall space. I wonder how they are going to sort that out…
Going on two factory tours in one week gives me a great opportunity to compare, especially since both companies produce luxury cars. I have to admit I was surprised when I heard what a Bentley costs. And that’s coming from someone who is quite used to hearing large numbers – Aston Martins aren’t cheap!
A lot of things will be the same. It’s inevitable, because these companies do the same thing: they create cars.
You would expect the similarities between Bentley and Aston Martin to be bigger than between Lotus (which I visited last year) and Aston Martin. You may be surprised to hear that Lotus helped Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. with part of their manufacturing process.
I mentioned in my post about Bentley Motors that they have four people assigned to one interior. This is similar to Aston Martin. I seem to recall there’s two people for one interior at AML, but that doesn’t really matter. What I found interesting is that in both cases a lot of manual work goes into it, but at Aston Martin it takes twice as long. From what I’ve seen there are more intricate designs to choose from at Aston Martin. Not trying to be mean, but at Bentley the designs of the seats, for example, seem a lot less complicated.
We got to see several models being built. Of course the DB11 is going into production and we saw a few of them along the way. There was even a Vanquish Zagato Coupe. What a treat!
If you have ever seen a documentary about Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. you have probably heard of James, aka the James Bonder. Well, I’ve seen him! Unfortunately he was not busy at the time.
There was some discussion about ‘bonding’, though. Traditionally several parts of a car would be welded together. Now they are bonded, which is basically a technical term for glueing. Our host was quite right when he mentioned that psychologically that doesn’t sound right. He then proceeded to explain how much force is needed to turn an Aston Martin’s chassis one degree (back to front). It’s impressive…
I guess we have to conclude that glue has evolved beyond ‘sticky stuff’.
As always it’s great fun to walk past the production line and see these cars literally come together. There were some stunning cars in the inspection area. Some people are very lucky that they can order a brand new Aston Martin to their specification. I’ll just stick to my Master Plan and one day I’ll have a second hand (or third, fourth…keep counting) Aston Martin. It doesn’t matter. An Aston Martin is a life’s goal.
I think I’ll be at Gaydon for another factory tour before that happens, just to see what’s going on.