Kingsley Riding-Felce
Guest's Choice


Ignition Spring/Summer 2013

Page 18

In the marque's centenary year, Aston Martin Works Managing Director
Kingsley Riding-Felce chooses the one Aston Martin from each decade he would have in his dream motor house

1910 – 1920
1921 Aston Martin A3

I have to start with the oldest surviving car produced by the partnership formed by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. Unfortunately the very earliest cars are lost. I fear that the Aston Martin Heritage Trust, which looks after this car, might not be too keen on parting with it. It's great fun to drive and, although not particularly powerful, with an 11hp 1.5-litre engine, it did manage to lap Brooklands at more than 84mph. Now that would be fun!

1920 – 1930
1929 Aston Martin International

Aston Martin went through some tough times early on, but its future was cemented when AC (Bert) Bertelli became a director. He produced
some fantastic cars and one of my favourites is the first International, whose sales just about saved the company from extinction. I'd rather like a two-seater sports model, which with a 1.5-litre engine and 56bhp is good for around 80mph.

1930 – 1940
1932 Aston Martin New International

The New International has a special place in Aston Martin history because it was the first car to carry the Aston Martin 'wings' badge that is so familiar now. The badge was designed by SCH 'Sammy' Davis, who broke records with Aston Martins at Brooklands in the 1920s and went on to become one of the Le Mans 'Bentley Boys'. The New International set a precedent for Aston Martin because many of its components were bought in from outside manufacturers, such as its Laycock gearbox.

1940 – 1950
1939 Aston Martin Atom

The prototype, designed by Claude Hill, appeared just pre-war and was for its time futuristic in the extreme. Of course it never reached production, but you can see in it a lot of what was to come later from Aston Martin. It's almost a concept car, and David Brown bought the company on the strength of it.

1950 – 1960
1950 Aston Martin DB2 and 1953 DB2/4

With the DB2 David Brown really moved Aston Martin into the upper league of manufacturers of sporting machinery. It had great performance as a result of the 1950 racing programme masterminded by John Wyer, and was quite a car for its day. I've driven several, and we are restoring one at Aston Martin Works. If I'm allowed two cars from the 1950s the other would be a DB2/4, which was the first hatchback, if you like. The larger engine of the Mk II model really
made a difference, and it is extremely sought-after.

1960 – 1970
1969 DB6 Mk II Vantage

There were so many great Aston Martins in the 1960s – DB4, DB5, DB6. Forced to choose I would take the DB6 Mk II Vantage. I don't really
know what it is about that car, but I love it. The Mk II had bigger seats and wheels, and one of those with the Vantage engine is a wonderful combination. The noise of the induction from the Weber carburettors, and the balance and feel of the car, is absolutely fantastic. I've had some wonderful drives in them. The DB4 is a great car and the DB5 is lovely, but the extra room in the DB6, and the whole feel of the car, gives it the edge for me. I can understand why the Prince of Wales loves his convertible.

1970 – 1980
1977 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

I drove one of the first examples of the V8 Vantage – it was a company demonstration car. Just so quick. Because of some wonderful
experiences I had in these cars it would have to be my 1970s choice, although I love the convertible as well. The car feels alive because the driver is in direct contact with the carburettors. There's this
wonderful feeling when you squeeze the throttle: there are no potentiometers, no superchargers – just you and the carburettors. There is something very special about having that total balance between the throttle, clutch and steering and everything else. People won't understand if they haven't driven one.

1980 – 1990
1986 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato

The V8 Zagato was perhaps not the prettiest car but it certainly drove very well, not least because it was lighter than the standard Vantage. I have driven several of these with our upgraded 6.3-litre engine, and one of those with a 6.3 is truly memorable. Fewer than 150 of the Vantage Zagatos were made between 1986 and 1989, and of course that has ensured its rarity and popularity with collectors.

1990 – 2000
1993 Aston Martin Vantage

The Supercharged Vantage was an incredible car, and I have driven many. In its upgraded form – the V600, with uprated brakes, suspension
and engine – it is a very different car from the standard and a wonderful car to own and drive. It was the most powerful Aston Martin road car ever produced until the One-77 came along, and was the last of the line of 'V' cars hand built here at Newport Pagnell. Aston Martin Works played a huge part in its development and evolution. The
drivetrain was wonderful: we used it as the basis for many specialist coachbuilding projects.

2000 – 2010
2001 Aston Martin Vanquish and
2012 Vanquish

If allowed some more recent machinery in my fantasy motor house, I would have to include the last car to be built at Newport Pagnell – the Vanquish S Ultimate Edition – and of course, my biggest love of today – the new Vanquish – which celebrates 100 years of Aston Martin and more than lives up to its billing as the greatest in the company's history.

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