Blog: Yet more Aston
Dave Leggett | 4 September 2006
In a move that surprised many, Ford decided last week to speed up its reformation by putting Aston Martin on the market ahead of the review of operations by ex-Goldman Sachs M&A man Kenneth Leet.
As Ford looks to strip itself down to the bare essentials for profitable operation, it has apparently concluded early on that Aston Martin is superfluous.
Initial indications are that there are several credible expressions of interest in the company that used to be a byword for uneconomic business practices. The anecdotes are legion.
One of my favourites was aired in the Daily Telegraph newspaper last week. Apparently, former Aston company owner David Brown (the ‘DB’ in the model names) gave Clark Gable a factory tour. “Well, I like the cars,” the actor said at the end of the tour, “and I’d like to buy one, but the publicity value of me owning one will be so valuable, I’d like to pay cost price.”
“Well thank you very much, Mr Gable,” said Brown, “Most of our customers pay GBP2,000 less than that.”
But Aston Martin has been knocked into shape by a competent German with performance car form in the shape of Ulrich Bez (output doubled last year to a little over 4,000 units and the company is said to be just about in profit) and there is perhaps plenty of potential to take that brand further from its current base.
For Ford, putting Aston Martin on the bloc suggests that the company is really serious about paring down its operations so that it can focus on products and brands where it can actually make money.
How much will Aston Martin fetch? If there is as much interest as reports suggest, it may well go for a pretty price. And there would be some irony in Ford - after its Jaguar experience - offloading a British performance brand for a good price.
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