Driving the British way
Founded in London in 1913, Aston Martin celebrated one hundred years of manufacturing the world’s most luxurious and recognisable sports cars at Freemasons’ Hall. With James Bond’s DB5 pulling up outside, we take a look inside a very exclusive birthday party
On a hot summer Saturday night in mid-July, a glittering black-tie party for one thousand Aston Martin owners and invited guests descended on Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street to celebrate one hundred years of the classic car marque. With Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt and Allen Leech in attendance, the event featured entertainment from Radio 1 DJ Benji B, composer Grant Windsor and the Deviation Strings ensemble.
The celebration in the capital was the culmination of a week-long programme of centenary activity that included driving tours across Europe as well as a host of events at the brand’s Gaydon headquarters in Warwickshire. Over the same weekend, tens of thousands of enthusiasts had made the trip to London’s Kensington Gardens to witness the largest gathering ever of the iconic British cars. On display in the Royal Park or at nearby Perks Field were as many as five hundred and fifty Aston Martin models – worth around an estimated £1 billion in total.
Classics old and new
Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez said: ‘Exclusivity is a key part of the Aston Martin mystique – we have made only around sixty-five thousand cars in our entire one hundred-year history to date – so to see so many of these rare beauties gathered together in London was a truly historic occasion.’
Themed car displays told Aston Martin’s remarkable story. The event’s centrepiece, the Centenary Timeline Display, on the Broadwalk, took visitors on a one hundred-year journey from the origins of the brand in Henniker Mews, Chelsea, to its current global headquarters in the Midlands.
Every significant Aston Martin road car was represented, from ‘A3’, the oldest surviving car, which dates from 1921, to the Centenary Edition Vanquish, and the thrilling new V12 Vantage S and Vanquish Volante. The exceptional CC100 Speedster concept model, meanwhile, provided a tantalising glimpse of the potential shape of the brand’s cars in years to come.
Elsewhere in the park a Centenary Selection display showcased the diverse and highly bespoke nature of the brand. This varied line-up revealed cars rarely seen outside of private collections, including a brace of new Zagato models, a trio of Bertone Jets, and a number of other unique cars commissioned over the years by passionate customers worldwide.
To top it all, Aston Martin’s association with James Bond was marked with a display of seven of the movies’ cars. Back at Freemasons’ Hall, actor Ewan McGregor posed happily alongside a DB5 from the latest Bond blockbuster, Skyfall, adding a flourish of Hollywood glamour to an evening that celebrated a car marque with true star quality.