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Happy 100th Birthday Aston Martin!

  1. Internet, prepare yourself for 2013. This year car fans will be donning party hats, blowing kazoos and eating cake like it’s going out of fashion. Porsche celebrates 50 years of the 911, Lamborghini hit its half century, and today sees Aston Martin celebrate its 100th.

    On January 15 1913, a man named Lionel Martin and another man named Robert Bamford founded a company: Bamford & Martin Ltd. It was later renamed Aston Martin in recognition of Lionel’s successful runs at Aston Hill Climb in Buckinghamshire. They called it ‘Aston Martin’ - you may’ve heard of them.

    The first Aston Martin was a 1908 Isotta-Fraschini chassis with a four-cylinder engine made by people who made forklift trucks. Things have changed quite a bit since then: today’s range-topper is the £1.2 million One-77.

    Here at Top Gear we’ve driven all of the great modern Astons - including, exclusively, the One-77. Have a click through to relive some of the highlights…

  2. Top Gear drives the One-77

    “Up close, the One-77 is blatantly exotic, but strangely familiar, the Aston Martin meme threaded through something bigger and more aggressive than we’re used to, though strip the badges off, and you’d still be in no doubt as to its lineage. The bonnet is very long, the stance cab-rearward, the shoulders broad and powerful. At a hair’s breadth under two metres, excluding those sticky-out mirrors, it’s ever so slightly wider than a Bugatti Veyron, but carries its visual bulk more gracefully. The Bug has a stolid, engineered look to it, while the Aston, with its flared nostrils, wasp waist and bunched rear wheelarches looks bred. More organic.”

    Read the full story here

  3. Jeremy drives the V12 Vantage

    “I can’t help feeling that cars like this will soon be consigned to the history books. I have this horrible, dreadful feeling that what I’m driving here is an ending…”

    Watch Jeremy review the V12 Vantage here

  4. James and the Virage

    Watch James try and work out the Aston Martin Virage here

  5. Driving Bond's DB5

    “This car makes the most gorgeous noise as the revs climb past 3,000rpm, the gearbox is terrific and though it heaves a bit in the corners, you can feel everything that’s going on.

    And then you think, Sean Connery drove this car in Goldfinger. It’s the car he stopped in the forest, after being pursued by a horde of minions in Mercs, when his beautiful doomed companion was offed by Oddjob’s deadly bowler hat. It has a prototype satnav (home counties on the display, naturally), a lever in the driver’s footwell that raises the rear brake-light, an armrest full of buttons for all of Q’s various devices, and a little red button secreted under the top of the gear-lever for the ejector seat.”

    Read the full story here 

  6. Hammonds Icons: Vanquish S

    “It was designed to be a Grand Tourer, and it feels like it. The interior is special: the leather, the seats, the dash - all of it feels genuine and upmarket and like it should be kept for ‘best’. Driving it, I didn’t feel inspired to tear up the track in a cloud of tyre smoke and fury, I wanted to do something more sophisticated than that, something more in keeping with the feeling of the thing. Something more special. But I couldn’t think of anything, so I just caned it about anyway. And Grand Tourer or not, this is still one fast thing.”

    Read the full story 

  7. Aston Martin Zagato on the Furka Pass

    “Driving the Zagato hard on these lofty mountain roads is a lethally, brilliantly simple exercise: go as fast as your bravery reserves allow; crash and die as soon as you exceed them. Unlike so many modern cars, the Zag doesn’t feel idiot-proof. It has the brutish mien of a Sixties muscle car: a car built around a big engine with secondary regard for driver wellbeing.

    Not that it’s bad to drive, simply uncompromising. The Zag’s steering is seriously weighty, the sort of wheel you grip hard, biceps tensed, rather than twirl with a couple of fingers…”

    Read the full story here

  8. Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe vs Aston Martin DB9

    “We decided on a bit of play-acting. In the book, Bond chases Goldfinger to Geneva in an Aston DB3. In the 1964 film, the cars are updated to a Phantom III and a DB5. We’ve done our own bit of updating by going for the modern Phantom and a DB9. We start at the point where the freight plane landed at Le Touquet airport. Sorry, though, I have no intention of taking Bill to a torture chamber and threatening to slice him in two if he doesn’t spill the beans, and, as far as I know, he isn’t out to crack open my evil empire. We’re just out to enjoy the trip…”

    Read the full story here

  9. James May on the Aston Martin DBS

    “Moreover, it doesn’t feel anything like the DB9. The composites, the exotic metals, the ceramic brakes, all those tweaks and tucks - they’ve transformed the slightly tropid regular car into something much tougher and more plain-talking. This is quite Aston-like, too, and is a mirror of what happened when the original wishy washy V8 coupe was turned into the giant Doc Marten boot that was the V8 Vantage. ‘Bruiser’ is the word that’s usually employed here…”

    Read the full story here

  10. Richard Hammond on the Aston Martin Rapide

    “So first up, does it drive well? Yes. It’s not greatly compromised over a DB9, and the big V12 makes a nice noise for a four-door saloon. Better than a Ford Mondeo’s noise. Although let’s not forget, the V12 is, essentially, two Mondeo V6s bolted together, with the Duratec stickers carefully picked off. I wouldn’t want to bolt them together myself, but you know what I mean…”

    Read the full story here

  11. First drive: the Aston Martin Vanquish

    “No brand gets to bask in a halo more effulgent and celestial than the one 007 casts over Aston Martin, and it is impossible - perhaps even borderline illegal - not to love this company and all its little foibles. But after a day thrashing about on one of the UK’s best B roads in the new Vanquish, I’m sorry to report that I can’t say the same thing about this new car…”

    Read the full story here

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