March 12, 2007

Aston Martin to Be Sold for Pounds 450m This Week

A welsh entrepreneur will bring sports car company Aston Martin back into British ownership this week in a pounds 450m sale. Dave Richards, who comes from Denbighshire, runs the motorsport and automotive engineering group Prodrive, which will buy the iconic brand.

Aston Martin, whose cars have featured in a number of James Bond movies, has been 100% owned by American motor giant Ford since 1994.

Mr Richards, 54, has had a long association with motor racing. Formerly allied to the Benetton and BAR Honda Formula One teams, Mr Richards is planning to enter his own Grand Prix team next year.

Started in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, Aston Martin turned out its first car in 1915.

Annual production dipped as low as just 46 cars in 1992. But the marque has enjoyed a resurgence this decade - a record 7,000 Aston Martins were sold worldwide last year and similar number are expected to be purchased in 2007.

Aston Martin moved its headquarters from Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire to Gaydon in Warwickshire in 2003.

Production at Newport Pagnell, where the Vanquish S model is made, will cease in July although the service and restoration department will stay on there.

The DB9 and V8 Vantage models are made at Gaydon and later this year a DBS model will go into production at the Warwickshire plant, where 1,600 staff are employed.

It was the DBS which Daniel Craig drove in the latest James Bond film Casino Royale. The first 007, Sean Connery, drove an Aston Martin DB5 in the 1964 Bond movie Goldfinger. Versions of the car also appeared in other 007 films, including Thunderball, The Living Daylights, Goldeneye and Die Another Day.

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