AML’s other transports of delight.
Conducting a highly scientific straw poll at work recently, my enquiries were to the full dozen souls what car they’d buy with a big lottery win. Some required momentarily longer than others to respond but eight replied with “Aston Martin or something,” two preferred properties whilst the remainders spirit didn’t enter the equation.
Proving to this enthusiast that the Gaydon still makes covetable bolides, regardless of the fact that none of those questioned could name exactly which model would remove funds. Aston Martin’s qualities are second to none. So too seemingly, their lack of financial acumen. For this author, one wonders if the phrase ‘clutching at straws’ derived from the office area of David Brown and his antecedents.
Hand in glove: car manufacturing, engineering and diversification work better for some than others. Lawrence Stroll’s acquisition may have propped up the bank balance, but in the recent past, other forms of transport have been haphazardly connected with the be-winged AM badge. What time does the Aston Martin number 38 bus show up?
Once elected Mayor of London in 2008, Boris Johnson opened a competition to create a new bus for the capital. A joint submission of Foster + Partners along with Capoco Design (a bus design firm) along with input from Marek Reichman’s team brought about an enigmatic updating of the once ubiquitous Routemaster double decker, which proved the winning entrant.
Shadowing car formulation, the design nurtured bus user’s needs; layout, excellent lighting, durable wooden floors, reconstituted leather seats all helping create a “living room feel.” The glazed roof had embedded solar cells to generate power, along with daylight filters to control the temperature. The overall design looking rather Toytown to these eyes, their cartouche glazing revealing the staircase.
Reichman, proud of his team’s efforts espoused how their design language had assisted with this diverse project; they even won £25,000, split between the collaborative, meaning AML probably ended up with a day’s free bus travel. And for winning the competition, Aston were suitably ignored, the actual design being handed to designer, Thomas Heatherwick, which is documented both here and here.
Back heeling public transport, Aston then turned to something perhaps closer to their own raison d’être; bespoke building of motorcycles. The name Brough will no doubt well tear ducts to those inclined toward two wheeled adventures. Nottingham based George Brough made motorcycles from 1919-40; one particular gent owning seven examples, obsessed with their superior handling and speed and left this mortal coil riding one – a certain T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia). Brough even constructed around 80 cars in the late thirties with no badging; believing his Hudson derived autos were “distinctive enough.”
As with many other engineering workshops, war work saw Brough take on crankshaft work for Merlin engines. The company became a casualty itself at hostilities end. Having no motorcycles to work on or build, the company wound up. Resurrected almost seventy years later by enthusiast Mark Upham, later meeting with CEO of Boxer, French bike designer, Thierry Henriette, who constructed Upham a modern Brough Superior in 2013. Interest was expansive enough to set up the Brough Superior factory in Toulouse with series production arriving by 2016.
Aston Martin enter the fray three years later with the AMB-001, the “B” for Brough. A track-only weapon of just 100 are to be made. An aluminium fin provides a backbone for lightness with strength. Titanium and carbon fibre parts abound. Billeted aluminium the front forks and engine covers. Blending austenitic nickel and chromium creates the alloy, Iconel, for the exhausts manifold. The engine (built by a solitary sole whose name adorns a plaque) being a DOHC 997cc, 8 valve, 88 degree V-twin, turbocharged for 180bhp. When dry, the AMB-001 weighs 180Kgs – as is the mouth on seeing the asking price – €108,000 (£93,000). Where’s that bus?
Available in a variety of shades but nutant to their cars, Sterling Green body with lime accents combined with conker leather seat and grips with Oxford tan pads equates to an aggressively handsome beast. The first AM Wings to be found on a motorcycle, Reichman again is justifiably proud, “a design and engineering work of art.” One expects both Lawrences would approve as surely would George.
And when done pounding the track, hand the bike over to staff and take off in your Aston Martin helicopter. The ACH130 is the product of another Anglo/ French partnership between Gaydon and Airbus Corporate Helicopters, resident of Courchevel in the French alps.
For your $3.5m (add around $640 per hour running costs) the pilot and six buddies can cruise over three hundred miles at a top whack 128knots at a ceiling of 9,700 feet. The Fenestron tail rotor assists with quiet progress as one is propelled onwards in a svelte looking machine painted oddly enough, Sterling Green which graduates underside into Jet Black. Skyfall Silver adding Bond bling to the cowlings.
Inside, one can spec up to pure black ultra-suede although cormorant, ivory and perennial favourite, oxford tan leathers are available. The headrests wear the wings, the seats all very much inspired by the cars. To the rear of the front seats, identical brogue patterns as found in your DB11. The ‘copters doors reflect the trim of your motor, “a pleasing touch point for passengers.”
There’s room to store your £475 Monogram canvas bag and your £3,055.10 Aston Martin Racing helmet along with breathing in the aesthetics and rigorous attention to detail. This time the plaque contains both brand names, aircraft registration number and optional pilot name. Reichman offers staff plaudits once more and wishes to see “everyone’s reaction.” Be careful what you wish for, Marek.
All which must keep employees in gainful work but at what brand cost? Only the super-wealthy gravitate to such opulence – just how much sterling green does anyone need? And we’re only now mentioning inclusion of Mr Stroll’s Formula 1 pass, a club that requires almost limitless funding. The price per championship point will be astronomical as they chase mid and back field places.
We conclude with returning to my opening gambit and response, Aston Martin or something. Not only to these eyes but mainly the heart, AML, akin to Ferrari have become diluted, a spidery framed pastiche of former glory (but financially hopeless) days. Should the lottery finger point my direction, Gaydon is no longer my first port of call. I reckon it’ll be the pub and a period of deep cogitation.
 Starting figure.
 An Airbus patent, a ducted fan. Safer and better handling come at a cost of greater weight and power requirements over standard rear propellers.
 ‘Skyfall Silver’. For a helicopter. Have the product team lost their minds?
 For car rather than motorcycle racing but again in Sterling Green with lime accents.