Aston Martin Works at Newport Pagnell

It's been five years since Aston Martin shifted production to its new facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire, but after years of operating at Newport Pagnell, it could never shake the legacy of its historic home. So while the current model line is produced an hour away (probably less if you're actually driving an Aston), the company has inaugurated a new facility at its spiritual home.

Actually, truth be told, the old factory at Newport Pagnell was kept as-is under historic preservation laws, so the new facility is actually situated across the street. Its showpiece is a 10-car showroom that will serve as Aston Martin's flagship dealership. If you're thinking that Aston doesn't offer ten different models, well... it actually offers nine, between the DBS, DB9, Virage, V8 Vantage, V12 Vantage, V12 Zagato, Rapide, Cygnet and the One-77 (although we hear they've sold out of the latter). And even more if you take the V8 Vantage S variant and five convertible versions into account. But the showroom will also be displaying a variety of hand-picked and pristine classic Astons for sale, too.

That's because the space is attached to Aston Martin Works, which has spruced up its operations as well. The division is charged with restoring and servicing Astons old and new with its staff of over 60 employees, handling some 2,500 cars every year for everything from an oil change to a full restoration. It also handles the company's own fleet of historic vehicles and the catalog of new Q by Aston Martin accessories. Scroll down for the full press release and a breakdown of Aston Martin Works' activities.
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ASTON MARTIN WORKS AT NEWPORT PAGNELL
New showroom opens


Aston Martin Works, renowned worldwide as the official service and restoration division of Aston Martin, has opened a state-of-the-art dealership at the company's historic home - Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire.

An impressive new ten-car showroom is the outward face of a complete redevelopment at the 3.6-acre site on Tickford Street.

Aston Martin Works Newport Pagnell is designed to be as exciting and luxurious as the cars themselves, and to be a focal point for the many friends of the Aston Martin marque.

As well as exhibiting current models it will offer a selection of carefully vetted pre-owned Aston Martin models, plus merchandise from the Aston Martin Collection. Behind the showroom, the extensive workshops have been rebuilt and upgraded into a world-class facility with new equipment and systems to improve further the efficiency and quality of service, repairs and renovation for which Aston Martin Works is known throughout the world.

The renowned Aston Martin Works body repair, restoration and heritage business is now even better placed to look after customers from all over the world. Its skilled technicians and craftsmen will continue to deliver the finest results, cherishing cars as enthusiastically as owners do themselves.

Aston Martin Works Managing Director Kingsley Riding-Felce explains the philosophy: "Newport Pagnell connects Aston Martin with its history. Adding a retail dealership to our existing business makes Aston Martin Works a true one-stop shop for the marque."

The expanded operation has a new management team. Graham Darby, who boasts a wealth of motor industry experience including senior fleet and aftersales management roles, was appointed General Manager Operations last year. Paul Spires, who has worked with Aston Martin models for 20 years, joined as General Sales Manager in January. In the new structure, Aston Martin Works' staff will exceed 60 for the first time.

The new Aston Martin Dealership at Newport Pagnell and the development of the Tickford Street site - opposite the original company headquarters, now preserved by a conservation order - has been warmly welcomed by the town council and other local authorities.

Aston Martin has been present in Newport Pagnell since 1957 and made cars there until 2007 after which production of new Aston Martin models moved to the company's global headquarters at Gaydon.

The service department has remained on its current site and was renamed Works Service in the 1990s. It handles 2,500 cars a year carrying out maintenance service, accident and paint repairs, and renovation of older cars.



ASTON MARTIN WORKS - BACKSTORY

ASTON MARTIN WORKS MEANS BUSINESS

The need for a company-owned retail car sales operation was identified in 2007. Aston Martin had not operated its own dealership since the early 1990s, when it had a London showroom in Cheval Place, Knightsbridge.

In the interim, Aston Martin had changed almost beyond recognition, with a new and wider range of cars produced in higher volumes than ever before in an ultra-modern factory at Gaydon, Warwickshire. Its renowned service and restoration division, Works Service, remained in Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, home to Aston Martin since 1957.

The historic headquarters has long been a magnet for Aston Martin enthusiasts and Aston Martin Works, run by Kingsley Riding-Felce, has a loyal clientele comprising owners of Aston Martin models old and new. Open days, including the highly successful Bonhams Aston Martin auctions, demonstrate the expertise and craftsmanship available and encourage a friendly 'family' atmosphere for the marque's admirers.

A redevelopment of the 3.6-acre site on the north side of Tickford Street, just off the M1 at Junction 14, provided the opportunity for an extensive showroom for new cars with an area alongside for pre-owned current models. An adjacent building will house the Heritage Centre, which will sell older models and be staffed by expert staff.

The layout and presentation of the dealership is the model for Aston Martin premises worldwide. A lounge area in the showroom encourages browsing and provides a comfortable environment for sales discussions. Display cases show luxury goods from the Aston Martin Collection, also available for sale. The Aston Martin Works showroom will be open six days a week and on Sundays by appointment.

The addition of car sales to the existing operations now makes Aston Martin Works Newport Pagnell a 'one-stop shop' for everything Aston Martin. Later this year, it is planned to open a retail store for Aston Martin parts which will also handle e-commerce.

PREMISES AND FACILITIES

In the days when Newport Pagnell was the Aston Martin headquarters and manufacturing base, it used a collection of buildings on both sides of Tickford Street, not far from the town centre. Aston Martin Works is concentrated on the north side, historically the location of service and engineering departments.

The new car showroom, forming the frontage, replaces a smaller service reception area. An area behind it, known as the 'flight deck', will be used for vehicle hand-over for both sales and service. Beyond that, the service, repair, and Heritage restoration workshops are all being extensively renewed and upgraded.

Work on the service and repair areas is complete. There are 13 service bays, fully equipped with individual oil systems, air lines and computer terminals. The accident repair centre has six mechanical bays and two paint booths with four preparation areas and includes the specialised technology to deal with bonded aluminium and carbon fibre body panels. The Olympia building, to the east of the site, is being adapted to house the new Heritage Centre, to be opened in the autumn.

Aston Martin is inextricably linked to the town of Newport Pagnell and the council and local authorities have welcomed the redevelopment of the Aston Martin Works premises. Some members of the team have worked for Aston Martin for many years, transferring from building new cars (the last was the Vanquish from 2001 to 2007) to service, renovation and personalization.

NEW ORGANISATION

Kingsley Riding-Felce, a main board director of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd and a trustee of the Aston Martin Heritage Trust, is Managing Director of Aston Martin Works.

In addition two senior managers have been appointed to the new organisation.

Graham Darby is General Manager Operations, responsible for all activities apart from sales, with 55 permanent staff plus contractors. Graham's wealth of motor industry experience includes running a demonstration and press fleet operation managing 12,000 cars for 17 different brands with 250 staff, six workshops and three body shops.

Paul Spires, General Sales Manager, was the principal of an Aston Martin dealership before joining Aston Martin Works in January 2012. He will head a sales staff of six and will present examples of all current models in the showroom as well as offering a selection of 15-20 pre-owned cars, including Heritage models, at any one time.

Q BY ASTON MARTIN

Aston Martin offers a wide selection of options, colours and trim from the factory but for those owners who want the ultimate in personalisation - perhaps a special paint finish or texture, embroidered upholstery or some specific non-standard equipment - Aston Martin Works offers Q by Aston Martin.

Whilst many cars pass directly from the factory for this special attention - including several of the exclusive One-77 models - Aston Martin Works now makes this exceptional service available to those with pre-owned cars, enabling the purchaser to tailor the car to their own specification, just as if it were a new car order.

HERITAGE CENTRE

Aston Martin has a proud heritage which includes building not only the finest British Grand Touring cars but also winning the Le Mans 24 Hour race and the World Sports Car Championship in 1959.

Aston Martin Works Heritage Centre is dedicated to keeping historic Aston Martin vehicles on the road. It is staffed by a knowledgeable group of professionals who combine unparalleled customer service with genuine enthusiasm. Its services extend from renovation and repair to complete bare-metal restoration for all post-war models before the current generation.

Some of those who apply their skill and craftsmanship to this work will have been involved in the original car build, but all the Heritage specialists have benefited from the handed-down knowledge of those who made Aston Martin models in Newport Pagnell.

ASTON MARTIN AT NEWPORT PAGNELL

Car production was moved to Newport Pagnell in 1957 but the town was already familiar with the marque, as the Tickford coachbuilding company made the bodies for the DB2/4 model. David Brown, then owner of Aston Martin, acquired Tickford in 1955 and two years later consolidated production there and made Newport Pagnell the headquarters of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd.

The entire DB (David Brown) series of cars was made there. In 1958, Aston Martin had caused a sensation with the launch of the DB4, which was developed into the DB5, which became world-famous with James Bond, the DB6, and the DBS.

Annual production was only in hundreds, each car painstakingly hand-built by craftsmen. Body panels were individually made, hand-beaten and rolled, and engines meticulously assembled by a single technician. Newport Pagnell was the last bastion of a bygone age of car making.

The factory went through difficult times after David Brown sold the business in 1972. Production reduced to a trickle: one car a week. But the company revived under Victor Gauntlett from 1981. New V8 models were introduced, production gradually gathered pace and when Ford took a controlling interest in 1987, plans were laid for a new model to be produced in greater volume using more modern techniques.

While the new DB7 moved to Bloxham, Aston Martin V8s continued to be built at Newport Pagnell. They were to be replaced by a completely new flagship model, the V12 Vanquish, which required new processes in the old factory, and went on to sell more than any previous model from Newport Pagnell. Vanquish production ended in 2007 and the main factory site on the south side of Tickford Street was sold.

ASTON MARTIN WORKS - EXECUTIVE BIOGRAPHIES

Kingsley Riding-Felce - Managing Director

One of the famous names in Aston Martin's history over the past 30 years, Kingsley Riding-Felce has been a stalwart member of the company's management since the 1980s when it was owned by Victor Gauntlett.

Kingsley, now 56, joined Aston Martin at Newport Pagnell in 1976, working in engine assembly, and after six months found himself in the service department, quickly rising to manager. After a spell in dealer development he was appointed UK sales manager, responsible for sales, marketing, motor shows, and much else besides, and he also spent some time in the company's London showroom which was then in Sloane Street.

By 1986, he was in charge of service, parts, warranty and technical publications and that role evolved into the establishment of Works Service, which also undertook coachbuilding individual cars for particularly wealthy clients.

In 1992 after Ford took full control of Aston Martin, Kingsley was made a main board director. Although car production was gradually moved to Bloxham and later to Gaydon, he continued to run the service operation at Newport Pagnell, emphasising 'works' to confirm that it remained an integral department of the manufacturer.

He has long wished for a retail sales outlet at Newport Pagnell. Now that has been achieved, he reflects: "The wonderful thing about this is that it gives Aston Martin a sense of history. The staff here have been very keen and supportive. It promises a great future for Aston Martin Works."

Graham Darby - General Manager Operations

The man responsible for the day-to-day running of all after sales activities at Aston Martin Works has unusually wide experience of the motor trade.

Graham Darby, 44, joined the motor industry as a BMW apprentice before he qualified as a technician and became first a warranty specialist, then service advisor and then manager. His next job was to run a new and used car sales centre for an Audi and Volkswagen dealer group before he became General Manager of a demonstration and press fleet operation managing 12,000 cars for 17 different brands with 250 staff, six workshops and three body shops. His experience covers after sales as well as new and used cars and managing technical functions.

Aston Martin was a brand Graham admired and to which he aspired but he had no involvement with it before he joined Aston Martin Works in 2011. His background makes him the ideal person to manage the Newport Pagnell site and to ensure that Aston Martin Works adopts and uses best practice throughout its operations, the company having invested in state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.

Graham is excited by Aston Martin's history at Newport Pagnell and delighted by the range of work and activities at Aston Martin Works: "We carry out everything from the full-scale restoration of a DB2 to fitting an iPhone holder in a One-77. And the team here has such a vast knowledge of the brand."

He describes himself as "a complete petrol-head" who enjoys motor sport and restoring old sports cars - currently, he is working on a Mark 1 MG Midget with his youngest son.

Paul Spires - General Sales Manager

Paul Spires is steeped in Aston Martin. He has owned virtually every model from the DB MkIII (1957) to the DB9 and has worked with these cars ever since he set up as an independent Aston Martin sales specialist in 1984. In 1992 he joined HWM, an official Aston Martin dealer, as a sales specialist and rose to become dealer principal.

He describes the chance to establish the new sales department at Aston Martin Works as: "A unique opportunity that I couldn't refuse."

Now 47, Paul's early career included spells as a sports shop manager, a boat builder and a racing driver. Although motor racing became a spare time activity rather than full-time business, he continued to be involved, driving (and winning) in historic events and managing a team at the Le Mans 24 Hours. In his new role, he hopes to be able to demonstrate the Aston Martin GT4 by driving in the support race at Le Mans this year.

Paul's ambition is to make Aston Martin Works the best Aston Martin dealer in the world. But size cannot be at the expense of customer care. His ethos: "The customer is king. I always want to sell the right car for the right reason, so that it fulfils all the buyer's aspirations."

As for the location of the new dealership, he says: "Newport Pagnell is the spiritual home of Aston Martin. The new development is hugely impressive and there are so many talented people involved, it is impossible not to be inspired and excited about Aston Martin's future here."