No matter how much I like factory tours and which companies I visit, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. in Gaydon will probably always be my favourite.
Enter factory visit number four.
One of the reasons this doesn’t get old is that each tour is different. This time we met up with Steve, who showed us around twice before and Sam, who is an apprentice. It must have been our lucky day, because the group consisted of only five people. Out of these only one had not been to the factory before. And that shifts the focus of the tour entirely.
The usual programme starts with a drink in the atrium, followed by a quick overview of the company’s history and then the factory tour which typically takes up 60 to 90 minutes. This time we started the tour a little bit late, because Steve and Sam gave us some insight into their respective careers. Steve has been with the company for quite some time now and Sam is one of the many apprentices. It was very interesting to hear how progressing in a career has changed through time, but also to get further details on how the apprenticeships work – something Aston Martin is quite keen on.
We also spent more time than normal at the heritage line. The boards on the wall have now been replaced by new ones, allowing space for the latest developments like the DB11 and Valkyrie.
The cars on display in the line were all familiar to me, but still a very welcome sight. As one of the guests in our group has a keen interest in classic cars some interesting views were shared about classic cars, but also how the Aston Martin brand has survived where other car manufacturers have not.
The ‘brand’ Aston Martin is something fairly new and possibly alien to the public. Of course AML is a car manufacturer, but it has been branching out for some time now and should now really be seen as a luxury brand. In case you are not familiar with this: you can now buy an Aston Martin powerboat, a submersible, a pram, clothes, travel accessories and much more. Actually, it has already gone as far as luxury condos!
Even though we were at the factory only eight months ago, some things had changed a little. It’s quite visible that Aston Martin is a company which is moving quite quickly at the moment. For one, this was the first time we had trouble finding a parking space!
As an enthusiast it’s great to see it so busy and that so much is going on. It’s quite evident from the various Aston related social media accounts as well.
During the time we spent in the factory we had the luxury of discussing some current developments. On my car related social media I have not yet spoken out about the news regarding Aston Martin, Red Bull and F1. If we are to believe the media Aston Martin will be developing an engine to be used by Red Bull’s F1 team. Judging by the timeframe alone that would seem unlikely, but you’d also have to consider the amount of money that would require. In addition I have to admit that I find F1 a bit of a beast. If things go well in F1 world the fame is quite far reaching. However, if it doesn’t go well, who knows what damage will be done?
As such, the entire development worries me a little and I found out that I’m by no means the only one. Of course I’m fully aware there’s only so much the public can possibly be told, but it’s to Steve’s credit that he tried to put things a bit into perspective and reduce the concerns expressed by one of the other guests and me. I think it’s sufficient to say that we should certainly keep in mind that media have not changed; you cannot take what’s printed for gospel. And somehow it is comforting to be told to ‘just trust us’. Actually, I have no issues with that at all, because in recent years it has become apparent we (the Aston Martin fans/enthusiasts) can trust the people within the company to do the right thing.
It may sometimes seem difficult to understand what’s going on or where they are going (yes, I did raise my eyebrows the first time I heard about Miami), but it seems to be working out for the better.
Like everyone else I will have to wait and see what comes next, but it is very clear that a lot of exciting new things will be coming our way. And I’ll be coming back for another factory tour to see it happen (a little) with my own eyes.