Now known as Aston Martin Works, what was once the marque’s main headquarters has been transformed with a stylish new frontage containing a 10-car showroom. And it won’t just be new Astons for sale, as the company’s continuing focus on its rich heritage means that pre-owned and historic models will also be offered.
Behind the scenes, the previously slightly ramshackle and leaky workshops have been re-built, although away from the facilities dedicated to the current state-of-the-art machines, the restoration and heritage side of the of the operation retains a very traditional feel.
In fact, as Kingsley Riding-Felce, managing director of Aston Martin Works, told CCW, “It’s a little like walking back into the past.” The new-look site was opened by Dr Ulrich Bez, chief executive officer (CEO) ofAston Martin, last Thursday night (May 3) at a glamorous launch party for over 400 guests. He paid tribute to the enduring nature of the firm which, often despite great odds, will be celebrating its 100th birthday next year.
AstonMartin moved to Newport Pagnell from Feltham in 1957, and constructed cars there until 2007 – the last being the Vanquish – before its new plant at Gaydon in Warwickshire took over construction. However, the service, renovation and personalisation arm remained at the Buckinghamshire site. Although much of the focus is on modern cars – Aston Martin hasn’t had a company-owned dealership since the early-’90s – the changes have also triggered enhancements for the historic arm. There are plans to take on more members of staff within this section, even though the number working within the works as a whole now exceeds 60 for the first time in the marque’s history. Its premises will continue to see improvements and the Olympia building, to the east of the site, is currently being adapted to house a new Heritage Centre, for opening in the autumn. There are also plans in the pipeline for a museum.
“I’m so proud,” said Kingsley Riding-Felce when interviewed by CCfS sister title Classic Car Weekly during the launch event. “I’ve been here many years and it’s good to see the business having these resources. We owe it to our customers and staff, many of whom have been here for many years too. I represent all of us by saying that this is a dream-come-true.” When asked about the old facility – which was legendary for buckets having to be dotted around the shop floor when it rained to catch water – he replied “I felt embarrassed about the old place sometimes, so to have this now…” He stressed the importance of the older cars to the company, adding that many of those who work within on the classics have been with the company a long time. “We build relationships with their customers in a way that others can’t.
A lot of the iconic heritage cars are like old friends – there’s not that many of them and we know them all.” Kingsley also revealed that one of the restoration tasks often taken on is to build James Bond replicas. “There are a lot more silver DB5s with black trim than there ever were. It’s actually quite nice when one comes in and the owner wants it to stay in its original colour. “But that’s half of the joy of owning an Aston Martin.”
PICTURED: ASTON WORKS BOSS KINGSLEYRIDING-FELCE WITH A V8 IN FOR RESTORATION