The Birthplace of Aston Martin’s Greatest Cars

SLIDESHOW: If your Aston requires repairs, the body shop is where you’ll want your car to be — the highly experienced craftsmen are able to return your prized car to its original condition, whatever the damage.

As Aston Martin celebrates a diamond jubilee of the historic former home that was the birthplace of many of the brand’s greatest cars, we look at the unique service offered by its current occupant, Aston Martin Works.

Aston Martin is an automotive name to conjure with, especially as the British sports car manufacturer regularly tops most valuable brand polls, and its models are coveted by car aficionados all around the globe.

Since 2007 the company has been producing cars from a new facility at the Warwickshire village of Gaydon, but its former factory in the Buckinghamshire town of Newport Pagnell still plays an important role as the home to Aston Martin Works, a one-stop-shop for existing and prospective Aston owners that not only sells new cars, but also fully supports cars from the company’s illustrious past.

In addition to being the third-biggest Aston Martin dealership in the world, Aston Martin Works can also service, repair and restore any car bearing the famous wings badge — and sell you one of its heritage models.

Most visits start in the new car showroom, filled with the current model line-up. But look through the glass wall at the back of the showroom and you’ll see arguably the most glamorous service centre in the world, where some of the most exclusive cars money can buy are being fettled. Here, the servicing of newer models (everything from the DB7 onwards) is handled using state-of-the-art technology. If you can’t ship your car here, though — and customers from all corners of the globe do — a team of specialist, fully trained mechanics, unofficially called The Flying Spanners, can come to you to ensure your car is in tip-top condition.

The site also has a dedicated heritage car showroom that, at any one time, contains a plethora of classic Astons for sale — some owned by Aston for reselling, while others are sold on behalf of the current owners. All are fully restored and highly desirable.

But aftersales is perhaps where Aston Martin Works comes into its own, offering a unique service to owners. If, for example, your Aston requires repairs, the body shop is where you’ll want your car to be, the highly experienced craftsmen are able to return your prized car to its original condition, whatever the damage.

Next is the paint shop. The level of detail here is exceptional: to ensure consistency, any job uses only one batch of paint, applied by only one paint technician, and polished for up to 100 hours. And you can have an Aston in any colour; it can even be restored to its original factory colour, as the company has records for every car ever produced.

The same goes for the interiors. The specialist trim shop uses original pattern cards for every model ever built by Aston Martin to retrim the seats and surfaces in the finest-quality hides.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Aston Martin Works is the restoration service it offers. This is where long-established craft skills can resurrect cars, whatever their condition, and restore them to a condition that is even better than when they first came off the production line (many customers opt to upgrade the car with modern gearboxes, brakes, steering and even satellite navigation).

For example, a barn-find goes to the panel shop, where it is stripped back, sand-blasted and set on a universal jig, after which it is rebuilt with new body panels beaten by expert craftsmen, using the same bucks and tools that were used to originally build the cars.

This process takes time: a barn-find can take up to 4,000 hours to be fully restored, which takes more than 18 months from beginning to end. (By comparison, the complete production of a modern Aston takes just 25 hours.) There’s currently an 18-month waiting list for this service, so if you manage to pick a promising wreck up at auction, you’ll have to wait around three years before you can get behind the wheel.

The good news is that Aston Martin, perhaps rather quaintly, charges a flat rate for restoration projects of £350,000 (plus local taxes). With current values for some fully restored Astons in good condition, you could find that restoring a barn-find will put you in profit as soon as restoration is completed.

But heritage cars are passion assets, not commodities for trading. Classic cars are meant to be driven, so restoration projects only really make sense as labours of love.

In an era in which cars are built by robots on highly technical production lines, it’s gratifying to know that one carmaker still values the old ways: indeed, Aston Martin Works is a fine example of the current trend for bespoke craftsmanship.

Aston Martin recently announced a new plan for the brand’s second century, with new models and a new approach to attracting customers. But its Works project shows that it hasn’t lost sight of the values that made the brand what it is.

Whether old or ultra-modern, Aston Martin cars are likely to remain covetable for many years to come.

www.astonmartin.com

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SLIDESHOW: If your Aston requires repairs, the body shop is where you’ll want your car to be — the highly experienced craftsmen are able to return your prized car to its original condition, whatever the damage.