Quantcast

Home » Featured »Redusernab Goes To... »Modern Art Monday » Currently Reading:

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 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

  • Scandinavian Flick ★

    That was pure automotive pornography. It's always amazing to see what goes into working on cars like these. Such attention to detail, and an undeniably OCD level of organization. Each part removed has all its fasteners and accessories cleaned, polished, bagged, tagged, or just replaced with perfect new hardware. Each process has its own tool and expert to use it. A few of my fellow hoons are familiar with a stateside example of this. If you ever get the opportunity, attend a Canepa open house, and take a look around.

    <img src="; width="600">

  • "They don’t exactly offer up English Wheel classes down at the local Wyotech. (They should though because that would be awesome.)"

    Actually, they do: "You will become familiar with basic specialized sheet metal fabrication techniques as applied to customizing vehicles. These techniques will include the use of basic hand tools and specialized equipment like the english wheel, power hammer, planishing hammer, bead roller and louver press."

    • Scandinavian Flick ★

      "become familiar with"

      "Okay, tomorrow we will go over the basics of the bead roller… oh, by the way, that thing in the corner over there is an English wheel… but today we'll be using the louver press."

      • FЯeeMan

        Point well taken, but once one is familiar with how said wheel of Englishness works, I'd imagine that actually producing anything you'd be willing to have seen in public (to say nothing of actually putting your name on) takes years of practice.

      • Well then, how about McPherson College's Sheet Metal Restoration class?

        <img src=";
        "Everyone in class is taught how to shape a 14″ x 14″ panel on an English Wheel together as a group. Then, you can go attempt, practice or complete your panel whenever you want, due before the semester ends. The critical point there is that you produce the product from start to finish by yourself and hand it in."

      • Irishzombieman☆

        I used an English wheel exactly once, while touring the shop of a friend of a friend. Used it magically turn a flat disc of sheet metal into a completely useless thing that looked like. . . well. . . my wife wouldn't let me keep it because it looked pornographic.

        Sadly this was before camera phones.

    • well… holy shit.

      My apologies to Wyotech.

      • But the average Wyotech grad will probably end up making something like this red fender (far beyond my skills)
        <img src=";

        Whereas the masters at Aston Martin can make this ART:
        <img src=";

        • Alcology

          Gotta start somewhere!

  • FЯeeMan

    "One man named John Groot". You were doing so well until this point. He's British, therefore, he's called John Groot. To my American ear, that Britishism just jumps out at me every time I hear/read it. It's as if to say, "I don't care what his Mum named him, he's called John." (Actually, I have a very good friend named Jeff, but he's called Jake.)

    Tongue now surgically removed from cheek, that was an excellent write up of what had to have been a magical, jaw dropping day. Is the place open to the public for tours, or was this a special Hooniversal Overlord only invite?

    • I actually thought about writing it that way…

      But I'm MURICAN dammit…

      I'm not sure about the tours, there is a showroom however for both some of the older and newer stuff. You can actually buy CPO newer Astons through Works as well.

      (Odd… my name is Jeff, but the name on my first fake ID said Jake)

      • FЯeeMan

        Ah, to be an Overlord…

        Is there an application process, or is one simply anointed?

        • You have to relish the thought of making no monies for a very long time… and be mediocre at heel-toeing.

          • Jeff, that was an incredible write-up!

            • Thanks!

  • We 20 years ago I was at an Solo II event in Atlanta and there was a guy there with a DB6 that he had for years. One of his Aston Martin stories was from sometime in the 1970s or 1980s somebody needed a replacement body panel for a DB of some sort. They got a hold of the factory for a replacement part. The response was "We don't have the part, but can send you a blueprint for it." A few weeks later a large tube shows up from the UK with a 1:1 drawing of the fender along with a note "Please return this when you are done, it is our only copy." Remember this was back when A-M was making less than 200 cars/year and sometimes less than 100 cars/year.

    Good to see that things have improved.

    I wonder how much of the car has to be left for the 330,000 pound restoration price to be valid?
    <img src=";

    • ha, there's a room with some of the original trim sheets used to copy bits.

      Good question, they seemed pretty stuck on the price figure, but I imagine if you show up with a DB4 badge and nothing else… you'd have to pay a bit more.

      • I found an intake manifold for a DB4 on ebay for $200 and was wondering what a restored DB4 is going for these days. Old Aston Martins seemed to have appreciated much more rapidly than other vintage cars in the last 10-15 years. Maybe they were just really undervalued for years.

        • I've been eyeballing the early Vantages on eBay/CL … me wantee.

          • I can remember when a V-8 from the 1970s or 1980s was a $25,000 car. Now they seem to be closer to $100k. DB7s seem to be the current bargain. Here's one for less than new Tahoe money: …

            • Also, it seems that the Lagonda is about to shoot up a bit in value…

  • What does it say about the reliability of the One-77 when over 6% of the entire production run is down for service at one time? Was there a recall?

    • Nope, just in for standard service… one of them has an awesome story, which I can't tell you about online. If anyone wants to hear it, find me in person and give me a beer.

      • Will you be at Mecum this January?

        • I'll give you a firm… maybe.

  • Hey Chief Blooger…Does this mean you spent your birthday in Europe? Kudos My Man. What a fantastic tour and Max Earey, the guy who gathered up these images, is, indeed, truly talented. It seems as if I just left that slice of Heaven a few moments ago. Thanks.

    • No I was home for my birthday. This trip was a week or so prior (but the car stuff was embargoed).