Aston Martin to ramp up production, sights on Bentley

Click on the photo of the Rapide for a gallery of high-res pics of modern Aston-Martins

It was not so many years ago that Aston Martin celebrated the production of their 10,000th car. Ever! It took more than five decades for the company to build it's first 10,000 cars. Now Aston is making plans to build that many cars annually and challenge Bentley. For the most part Ford's adventure in building expensive British vehicles has been a resounding financial failure (see Jaguar and Land Rover), with the distinct exception of the apparently now profitable Aston Martin.

Since the mid-nineties introduction of the DB7, the firm has been transformed from a place where craftsman hammered out aluminum body panels by hand to assemble quaint but expensive luxury coupes into a manufacturer of high-tech, high-performance sports-GT cars. Before the launch of the DB7 Aston was turning out about 300 cars a year. The DB7 started out at 700 per year. Last year, 7,000 Aston Martin cars were produced. Now on the brink of a spin-off from Ford, Aston Martin is studying how to increase production because their main plant in Gaydon is already running at full capacity.

The popularity of the DB9 (2500 units in 2006) and Vantage (4200 copies) has caused the company to back off on plans to build the Rapide four door that was shown last year. With plans for a new Vanquish, a production version of the DBS from the latest James Bond movie and the Rapide, a number of options are being evaluated. Possibilities include moving body-in-white and tub assembly and painting out of the Gaydon plant, or potentially building an extension to the plant. No final decision is expected until after the sale of the company is completed.

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