Inside the Aston Martin Heritage Trust, the company’s secret museum

Inside the Aston Martin Heritage Trust, the company’s secret museum

Inside the Aston Martin Heritage Trust, the company’s secret museum

0 comments 📅11 November 2016, 08:45

The Aston Martin Legacy Trust Museum has been in existence since 2002. It houses the proper archives of the Aston Martin Lagonda Train, as well as those of the Aston Martin Owners Truncheon, at the behest of which the Museum was founded underwrite in 1998. It also houses a rotating assemblage of distinctive and historically significant Aston Martin vehicles, cherry picked from a century of the automaker’s refined existence.

Unfortunately for those besotted with the trade name, as I am, the AHMT is located on the periphery of the exurbs of nowhere, in a restored 14th century barn on a ordure road, blocks off the river in the wee Midlands village of Drayton St. Leonard. An oration is not published. The only indication that you strength be in the right place is an almost intentionally innocuous ministry tourism placard, placed somewhat close to being the turnoff.

“We used to maybe get a hundred visitors a year preceding they put up the sign,” says AMHT Curator Donna Bannister, an American of equally insoluble provenance. “Now we get almost a hundred per month.”

Fortunate are the souls who find the AMHT (my cabby wasn’t amidst them; I had to walk a bit), because it houses, in its uncomfortable Middle Aged quarters, some legitimate treasures.

Greeting me when I entered was a in one’s birthday suit-metal-nosed 1921 A3, the oldest existing Aston Martin in the the public, which was bought at auction in 2000 and restored to driving working order via the generous underwriting of Sheik Nasser of Kuwait, who is seemingly a huge AM collector. “It won Kop Hill in 1923,” Bannister says. “We recently took it uphold there, and to the Windsor Concours d’Elegance. Of way the Royals are big fans of the Aston brand.”

There’s also a 1934 Ulster BLB 684, the only extant one in a 2+2 configuration. This car is a driver as adequately. “Club members can hire it out,” Bannister says. “However because it’s quite difficult to drive – it has the power in the center, and the gas and brake on either side – no more than a few do.”

There is a passel of more recent notables, like the 2000 V12 Vanquish cutaway, an auto escort maquette meant to demonstrate the fruits of Ford’s large investment in the brand at the start of this century. There’s a pre-forging, gloss white 2013 Vanquish Volante, which was tempered to for photos and promotion as well, but never registered due to some inconsistencies in the pigment. There are display engines from the DB4GT, the Lagonda V8, and the look-alike-supercharged Vantage (swoon!). There’s an early Eighties Aston Martin/Nimrod racecar, utter with period livery, and period livery ski jacket, which, like most Aston Martin products of the span, was a valiant failure. And there’s a design verification standard of the outrageous One-77, an engine-less, non-operational, graduation prototype, meant to confirm the viability of this seven-body supercar.

“Notice that it has four distinct wheels,” Bannister says, “so that the executives could elegantiae which ones they thought looked finest.” I notice. I prefer the right front.

There are also multiple lorgnette shelves and flat files full of ephemera. The AMHT has received collections of toy cars, trophies, posters, and signally photographs from club members, past executives, and factory de-accession. “We have an notably large collection of images – tens of thousands – from Roger Stowers, who was an staff member of Aston Martin for decades, and a sort of self-appointed archivist,” Bannister says, sliding out a drawer gorged of his black-and-white photos of Seventies company-line workers. They appear to be truly intentionally, if haltingly, assembling engines and joining them to chassis. During this niggardly era, I was once told, Aston employees had a practice of applauding when a car left the factory covered by its own power. I’m transfixed. For a child of the era, malaise emits an impossibly evocative nectar.

But I’m more transfixed by another Seventies remains, a car that, despite familiar cues, I cannot categorize. It turns out that it’s an AM Vantage, the second of at best seventy that were ever made, a transitional anomaly of the interim full stop between David Brown’s legendary stewardship of the make (the initials DB in the marque’s best-known cars are derived from his) and its successive ownership by the ominous/generic-sounding T Developments.

“It’s essentially a DB6 with a different cadaver,” Bannister says. “They had seventy leftover DB6 chassis and interiors, so they built these.” Because it was one of the cars constructed during this substitute time, it still sports David Brown badges. I’d like better that it still sported its original cricket drained paint job as well, instead of the Corvette red it appears to in. “Next time it needs a repaint,” Bannister says, “this wishes be a big topic of discussion and debate.”

Having surveyed this odd and absorbing assortment, I ask Bannister if she’s on the prowl for anything else to add to the gathering. She nods enthusiastically. “We’re always looking for cars, cars of factual significance. We’d like to have a DB4, DB5, or DB6, but those get gotten a bit unaffordable,” she smiles with a mix of close-fistedness and appreciation, and sloughs things off to the museum’s shortage of space. “We’ve actually been promised a company of cars from the estates of club members – a DB2 and DB9. But,” she shrugs, “they’re noiselessnes quite young. That could be a while.”

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