UPDATED Aston Martin shuts historic factoryThu, 19 Jul 2007 00:00:00 -0700
By Tim Pollard
19 July 2007 05:34
The last Vanquish rolled off the line at Aston Martin's historic Newport Pagnell factory today. Much of the historic site will be sold and turned into offices and homes.
It brings to an end a long and distinguished history of car and carriage making at Newport Pagnell - stretching all the way back to the 1820s. Aston Martin started making cars there in 1958 with the DB4 and it has built 13,000 cars at the site. Ironically, Newport Pagnell was only a year short of celebrating its golden anniversary under Aston's wing. Of course, today's event was staged; the last Vanquish was built some time ago and the production machinery was removed weeks ago. But, for the cameras at least, the final black Vanquish S Ultimate edition, chassis number 502,593, rolled off the line today at 11.45am. It will be the only press demonstrator of the final version and is the 2578th Vanquish built. Aston Martin is only weeks into its new ownership. Although the split from Ford was announced in March, it came into effect on 1 June 2007. The newly independent Aston expects to build 7000 cars this year; to put Newport Pagnell into perspective, it built just 13,000 Aston Martins in its entire history.
Its closure is more of an emotional jolt than a commercial shock. So the new bosses have pushed ahead with the plan to sell off the prime land where the famous former HQ, Sunnyside, and the adjacent factory stands. No officials would reveal the exact value of the land, but the prime spot in affluent Buckinghamshire is clearly worth millions. A plan has been submitted to the local council to build houses and offices on the site, although they hope to maintain some of the more famous buildings including the boardroom with its portrait of the Queen and clubby leather chairs.
Around 100 staff have taken voluntary redundancy, but some have been switched to the Works Service site over the road where cars are serviced, restored and personalised to owners' exact whims. One staff member told CAR Online: 'It's a sad day. Aston Martin is so much a part of Newport Pagnell and it's a jerk to see the factory close. We are worried that the Works Service could be next; the company's new owners are bound to want us all under one roof in the long term.' But for now, it's business at usual at Aston Martin. The newly independent company is pushing ahead with plans to show the DBS at the Frankfurt Motor Show and the Rapide four-door is still on schedule for launch in 2009.
By Tim Pollard