Aston, issue 1, December 1999
courtesy and copyright of the Aston Martin Heritage Trust
It is a happy coincidence that this first Aston Martin Heritage Journal should make its appearance in the last months of the first century of the motor car. The inspiration for an annual Review originated with the Aston Martin Owners Club. With the creation of the Aston Martin Heritage Trust, however- another of the Club’s imaginative ideas- it was decided to convey the magazine to the Trust, along with the archives and all the other treasures the Club has gathered since its foundation in 1935.
We are not passive guardians of nostalgia. There is no dust on the archives and the trophies are bright. The chequered flag illustrated on page 38 is the one that waved the Aston Martin DBR1 to its great Le Mans victory in 1959. The car in the picture is the one that won. It is one of the cars that made Aston Martin the first British marque to capture the World Sports Car Championship – and it is still occasionally racing.
The aim of the Trust – a registered charity – is not merely to preserve but to remember and celebrate, to educate and teach; to make its resources available to students, experts and connoisseurs of the classic car, in the broadest sense, and all that it has contributed to the development of an industry that put the world on wheels.
Since 1914, Aston Martin has built some 15,000 cars – only – but this is no measure of its place in history, the past or the future. The Club has well over 4000 members in 43 countries and it grows apace but that, too, is only by the way.
What makes Aston Martin so special is people. You can dip your hands into the bran tub of its history and find the most astonishing human beings. They come in all shapes and sizes, with many different passports. Which is why we have chosen, in the year of Aston Martin’s eighty-fifth birthday, to focus the Journal upon some of the famous, eccentric and even unlikely men and women who made the marque and put their own mark upon it.
The Count of Chitty Bang Bang, one of the many people over the years who have saved Aston Martin, is newly discovered. Carroll Shelby opens the door to his several hearts. Stirling Moss, whose seventieth birthday was celebrated by a thousand people at Goodwood House on 17th September, reveals a personal debt, and another proud son recalls the inimitable Reg Parnell. There are tributes to our favourite Contessa, Camilla Maggi, and the hospitality she and her husband dispensed so disarmingly at Casa Maggi.
We have not sought to be introspective or self-centred, celebrating also the centenary of Lagonda as well as the fiftieth birthday of BRM (seen from inside by Louis Stanley) and bringing Rudyard Kipling and a famous fighting Admiral to book. The Trust is about invention and imagination and, as Lord Montagu points out within our maiden covers, we are part of a larger firmament of ingenuity and creation.
We are grateful to our contributors. Leo Levine, a motoring editor of the New York Times, made a long trip to California to reminisce with Carroll Shelby. Eoin Young begins our series of Great Drives from New Zealand. David Burgess-Wise spent months on the trail of Lou Zborowski to produce what we believe to be the first full picture of a man who is too often remembered as the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s children’s book which was later turned into the Chitty Bang Bang film. And though we thought Neil Murray had every relevant fact neatly filed in his memory, he still had to labour many weeks to produce the first part of what we intend to be the definitive chronology of major events in Aston Martin history. And if anybody has any doubts about the true definition of Bondage, Jeremy Clarkson will provide a restorative.
We publish the first computer-generated picture of the Barn at Drayton St Leonard and Christine Sharrock’s beguiling article on that subject will, we hope, justify the appeal we are making for support as the Trust enters its second year.
There is still so much to be discovered and enjoyed – and we hope to see you again next year.