Blog: Dave LeggettUntimely death of Aston Martin's saviour

Dave Leggett | 3 April 2003

Sad to read of the death on Monday - aged just 60 - of Victor Gauntlett.

He's the entrepreneur who, after making a tidy amount of money in the petrochemical industry, in 1980 invested £500,000 for a 10% stake in Aston Martin. In 1981 he bought the rest of the company and became its executive chairman.

His successful efforts to increase output and develop superb new models such as the stunning Vantage Zagato coupe and the Virage, the company's first all-new car for two decades, attracted the attention of (then) deep-pocketed Ford. In the eyes of many, the US giant's acquisition in 1987 saved the famous British hand-built marque from extinction.

Gauntlett stayed on as Aston Martin chairman until 1991. I love this quote from the Daily Telegraph's obituary (www.telegraph.co.uk): 'Gauntlett was once asked: "How can you make a small fortune out of Aston Martin?" His reply was, "Start with a big one".'

Gauntlett was known as a real gentleman. I met him just the once, after he unveiled a new model shrouded in clouds of dry ice at the 1988 Earls Court motor show in London - I still have the photos somewhere.

Always approachable, he was just as willing to speak at length with a humble expat freelance hack writing for provincial New Zealand newspapers as the editors of the glossy UK and American mags.

You remember nice blokes like that.

Graeme Roberts

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