There is a lovably oddball character to the British motor industry that is epitomized by Aston Martin. Aston Martin DB4While their American cousins quickly produced automobiles in mass manufacture, starting with Ransom E. Olds before the turn of the last century, the British seemed perfectly satisfied to approach car building as a cottage industry. Hammer out a few here, put together a few there, and perhaps build a little bit of earnings into the enterprise. This was the ourlin for many British car builders, from Morgan to Jaguar to MG to Triumph to Aston Martin.

Marking its name

The original Aston Martin partners,  Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, completed the first car in 1914, didn’t register it with the British government until 1915 and didn’t assemble a second car until 1920. Bamford was an engineer and Martin was a driving enthusiast, and both men competed fairly triumphantly in hill climbs, including a famous event at Aston Clinton, which would ultimately give the marque half its name. After campaigning Singers, Bamford & Martin Ltd, as their leisurely automotive enterprise was called, decided to Read more . . .

If you ever wondered why the quintessential Brit hero, The Saint, drove a Volvo, there is a particular reason. Classic car Volvo P1800 redThe  P1800 Volvo he drove, was, at least at first, a British car. It was assembled by Jensen,  the renowned English sports car maker,  after Karmann Ghia lost out on the bidding to build the car. And in one of the most productive marketing moves in the car industry, Volvo decided to capitalize on the British connection by supplying vehicles for the British TV show, “The Saint,” which starred Roger Moore as the slightly shady,  free-lance,  womanizing, good guy. Read more . . .

Nobody ever accused Maxwell Smart (alias Agent 86) of being the brightest gemstone in the jewelry box, but there is one thing you can say for him, he knew how to pick a car. When he cruised up to the clandestine offices of Control each week to get his newest assignment, the Sunbeam Tiger he left at the curb drew knowing smiles from teenage  auto freaks in the television audience (as well as one Jack R. Nerad of LaGrange, Illinois.) Read more . . .

If the definition of a classic is something that has stood the test of time, then the Morgan 4/4 is the epitome of the expression. Classic carIn continuous production since 1936, except for those gloomy  years of World War II when Britain didn’t produce any civilian cars at all, the 4/4 has gone from contemporary to venerable to outdated to rejuvenated to out-moded to timeless over the course of its 7 decades. Now that a new millennium has dawned, with the British car  industry teetering on the brink of implosion and/or suicide, it  appears truly a miracle that the Morgan make has survived. Yet, survive, it has, and prospered. Read more . . .