Aston Martin factory tour no. 3…but why?

A few days ago I went to Gaydon for my third factory tour there. How much can you write about an experience you have just had for the third time? Not much.
So instead I decided to explore my fascination with Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., because my love for the cars goes beyond just that. The company itself is of interest to me, which is why I have recently returned for another factory tour within a year after the previous visit.

Sometimes this discussion comes up: what is it about this company that keeps me interested and makes me want to visit it so often? Most people immediately assume it’s because ‘everyone loves an underdog’. Hold on! What is an underdog exactly? An underdog is a person or group of people with less power, money, etc. than the rest of society. Well, that is certainly not true for this company, is it?
I guess in the world of car manufacturers Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. (also known as AML) is a very small company. It’s also widely known they have yet to make a profit.
However, I would argue that they have a considerable status in this world (equals power?) and it probably requires quite a lot of money to manufacture the expensive cars they create (so no profit, does not equal no money).

The atrium at Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., Gaydon
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The main thing that got me hooked on this small car manufacturer is the fact they are such a commanding presence in the car world, despite being small and not being able to make a profit (yet!).
Here is a company which has survived 100 years, because people believe in it. Because they don’t want to see this brand disappear. Because they want to see these cars on the road.
It used to be quite normal for several people from the same families to work for Aston Martins, therefore providing generations of workers with a passion for Aston Martin. So it is apparently more than a company, a factory. It’s a family too.

They used to produce only small numbers of cars. They even sold cars under production price. From an economic perspective that is unheard of. And AML did almost go bankrupt a few times in its history. Almost.
Because every time there was someone who would buy it or put money into it, so it could keep on going.
These guys just don’t give up.
That is probably the short and narrow of it. They simply do not give up.

The ceiling of the DB11.
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The people who put money into this company are probably not sentimental fools like me. They want something in return…or so I assume. There must be more appeal than just the company’s fighting spirit. Well, there is.
I have not met many people who do not at least like Aston Martins (there are a few, believe it or not). There is something about the cars that makes heads turn. They are desirable.
Even if you can’t afford one, you want one.

I think the combination of style and detail is the cause of this. Aston Martin has stayed true to their heritage. You can clearly see the older models (specifically DB4 onwards) in the new ones. And yet they manage to move on into a new age. Due to some automation they are able to create more intricate designs in the interior (see photo above). The number of items you can specify on the DB11 is huge.

The Aston Martin Vulcan. Even this beast has lots of typical Aston Martin features, yet it looks nothing like the classic models.
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It’s this same combination of old and new that draws in the more romantic among us. Yes, there are machines in the factory. Yes, there are robots. But most is still done by hand, by human beings. The atmosphere in the factory is calm, despite the noise. The people are happily (because there are quite a few smiles) going about their work.
Despite the more modern way of working the factory churns out in a year what other car manufacturers produce in a day.

Let’s face it: if you see two equal products and one was mass produced and the other by hand, you’d instinctively have more faith in the handmade one.
And there is no equal to an Aston Martin.

Aston Martin DB11
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The factory in Gaydon is a great place to be. It is that simple.
You get to ‘play’ with the cars in the atrium, you get told about the history, you get to see these wonderful cars being built by people who love building them.
I’ve been three times now and I will go again, simply because I can’t get enough of it. And I want to see what this second century will bring.
There have already been reports of a big turnover boost and several new models in coming years. There will be a new factory in Wales and the list of vacancies in Gaydon is ever growing.
It seems AML is doing well. Hopefully we’ll see them make a profit one day.

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