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Aston Pantheon


Once more into the breach, dear reader! Ah! Sir Stroll is about to walk right in and possibly save Aston, for only the (let me count...) fifth time in the past ninety years or so.

He does know Chapter 11 bankruptcy is an American thing, does he? Collapsed share price for bargain basement purchase is all well and good, but when the 'bargain' has all the money saving discipline of a famished chipmunk in a nut store, and the earnings capability of a grain fed butcher at an Extinction Rebellion sleep-out, well, it's not got happy endings writ large across it now, has it dear reader?

For us, the long-suffering fans, it will be a delightful sideshow to winter testing, anticipating Christian Horner's howling once he sees Aston dollars given wings to fly into some other team's wallet.

Sir Stroll has a good nose for great business, but all in the realm of knit-one, pearl-one fashion, and not the brutal world of bespoke car manufacture, let alone that niche endeavour known as the 'Aston Rescue' with full pike and twist. Heck, Ford and Tata have both found rescuing Jaguar Land Rover a wallet busting hiding to nothing, and Aston makes JLR look like the Silicon Valley start-up darling of the car world.

So what does Sir Stroll think he is buying?

I guess with Harry off to start Royalty Inc. 2.0 in Canada, Sir Stroll fancies his youthful young squire of a son being a touch more Bond-like and driving an Aston to get with the newly minted Brit vibe.

There is no question the winged logo is a classic, and the roar of a healthy Aston V8 or 12 in the canyons of the city, or within the reflective arc of a darkened stone bridge, is a sound for the eons.

The proportions of their finest road cars, and the pedigree of their racing history speak loud of the profound level of achievement. Their balance sheet screams the cost of such glory.

As they have now moved to Mercedes engines (a dream everyone currently shares in F1) for their road cars, they are really AMG in a Saville Row suit.

But what a suit! Even the oddly proportioned Rapide is still all elegance and understated power as an item of mobile art. The echoes of past glories, the history of remarkable racing achievement, the link to Bond, the current sweet stable of mobile art... It is easy to understand why your typical knockabout billionaire might go misty-eyed thinking of such simple delights.

Balanced against the inability to haul home cash like the Ferrari road car operation. Now why is that?

Rather like the 911 out-selling the Jaguar XJ-S, then the XK8, then the XK... and currently the F-type, there is no real reason why one car is a seminal cash-cow for its maker, while the other is in the shadows with too few partners at the end of the ball, having cost daddy a fortune in ball-gown, make-up, and styling.

Will it be different this time? Will Lawrence splash Aston across his racing team, or keep it with Red Bull, or even buy Red Bull? Will he, with his marketing knowledge, and significant sack filled with dollars, finally push Aston into the same league as Ferrari? Or will he align to fight Corvette and Mustang by dropping a division, and forget fighting Ferrari, in search of increased sales of cheaper cars?

Will racing increase the desire, halo, and delight of the brand? Given Aston's state while having been splashed all over Red Bull, one questions how being splashed all over Racing Point is going to gain greater exposure, and lead to lasting success. To be honest, given Honda's sales success while it's F1 engine has been the explosive stuff of all the wrong legends, one has to question the entire "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" approach in this most curious of ages.

Do I love the legend which is Aston? Yes. Do I respect their (ancient) racing past? Yes. If gifted an Aston would I cherish it and hug it each night like a favoured child? Indeed! If I had a tad more cash in my wallet would I splash it cheerfully on a DBS, Vanquish, or DB-11? Oh indeed yes!

Do I smile when I see those Wings fly past proudly carried high on the back of a Red Bull? Indeed, every time.

Do I look longingly at their balance sheet, business model, and sales orders and faster than Jeff Bezos at a start-up snaffling contest, smack the cold hard cash on the table in an uncontrollable desire to own them? Oh, no.

So why has Sir Stroll? Because he can? Because it is there? He lost a game of Truth or Dare? To stop Red Bull buying it? He needs a massive tax write-off this year? His son wanted a cooler image for his Scalextric set, sorry I mean team?

As with all these curious actions where we, the curious public, do not get to see behind the curtain until the act is over, we will have to remain expectant and wait for the story to unfold before us as the gentle river of time sweeps us all relentlessly towards tomorrow.

A tomorrow that when it arrives could see one Canadian billionaire slipping a few positions back down the Forbes rich list for this season. Will he go on to be immortalised in the Pantheon of greats who, like Hercules, struggled mightily only to fail in the end? Or will a special golden statue be erected in the temples of history for Sir Stroll? Proud of brow, strong of arm, clear of vision, a statue under which is placed the defining plaque which reads "Tremble Ye who stands before this statue that recalls the great hero that finally immortalised Aston, with a balance sheet of the Gods to save it for the eons."

Max Noble

Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here



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1. Posted by Max Noble, 20/02/2020 5:33

"@Canuck - well made point. I remember back in the late 1990’s when BMW was one of the first to start the endless smaller-leaner-cheaper race that people talked about “Over-stretching the Brand.” Well, we now have 20-20 hindsight to see how that played out... Who would have predicted Maserati, Lamborghini, Bentley, and everyone other brand with a torque wrench and a set of wheels, thumping out SUVs all day long...?

So yes, the more I reflect on it, the more I thinks move down market into a larger playing field *might* work for Aston if well handled. We need look back no further than Flavio Briatore to see the last time a chap from the world of knit-one-and-repeat moved into F1 and made a rather good job of it...

If anyone has the ability to make Aston a storming success, I think it just might be Mr Stroll Snr."

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2. Posted by Canuck, 20/02/2020 2:21

"If you look at all what you may call the high-end car manufacturers, they have all produced what you might call entry level cough cough cars. Mercedes with their a and b series and smart car, Audi with their A3 series, Porsche with their Cayman and Boxter, Ferrari of old with the Dino, BMW with the 1 and now 2, and why? to get their name into the populous. So why not produce a DB(Small) or a Vintage to make profit on more sales to increase the image of the higher end market. Remember many would love the full blown cars but the thrill of owning a high-end marke in a smaller less preforming package is still very attractive. Remember ford may sell Shelby 500 Mustangs that all dream about , but they do sell a hell of a lot more V6 automatic mustangs than the 500."

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3. Posted by Tombstone, 03/02/2020 18:44

"I must admit I do fancy blowing my pension on an Aston Martin. But, it would be on a DBS V8, or Vantage, from the 1970s."

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4. Posted by TokyoAussie, 03/02/2020 3:33

"I am reminded of a saying that often does the rounds. "If you want to be a millionaire in F1, start out as a billionaire" or words to that effect."

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5. Posted by Max Noble, 01/02/2020 0:57

"@Pawsche - Refer the latest article on this site as to the holding of Aston that Stroll will take. They are not currently going well in the market. They are raising yet more money to compliment the Stroll injection to try and turnaround their fortunes. Quite right it was 1904 when he patented the single balancer shaft. Then in the 1970’s Mitsubishi refined a twin balancer shaft design with one shaft off-set and higher and contra-rotating. It was a refinement of this that went into the straight four engine of the 944. It's final version, for the 944 S2, it was for a time the largest capacity and highest power output 4 on the planet. Honda, Subaru, and AMG 4 cylinder engines, all with forced induction, have since far exceeded it’s power output.

That said I still have a big soft spot for the 944, which I consider a wonderful coupe. "

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6. Posted by Pawsche, 31/01/2020 11:27

"@Max Noble.. Surely the balance-shaft was only re-discovered by Mitsubishi, I believe that the original was invented by Lanchester in the early-1900s...!"

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7. Posted by Pawsche, 31/01/2020 11:24

"I wonder if Mr Stroll is slightly more ahead of the game than you're giving him credit for... From what I hear in the financial market, orders for the new DBX are very strong - could be a game-changer, maybe, perhaps..."

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8. Posted by Max Noble, 30/01/2020 10:23

"@all - thanks for positive engagement as ever!

@Spartacus - Engineering rumoured abound on who built what bit of which... I agree it is far finer when an engine carries the true name of those that created it. As a total side-note Mitsubishi designed and created the balancer shaft system used to make the 4 cylinder engine used in the Porsche 944 so smooth :-)

@Spindoctor - quite agree, it is going to take continued focus and vision, that then produces a product that enough fans are willing to pay for... I watch with fascination...

@Lapps - It could possibly reshape the grid... again let’s see what develops. Aston road cars are sitting on more and more Mercedes sub-systems, so a rebranding of Mercedes as “Aston Martin Racing” with Toto at the helm when current team contracts expire could be a logical and exciting development.

The reverse of Stewart selling out to Ford (individual to corporation). Electing to team with Toto (possibly...) would underline Stroll’s excellent business mind in selecting top-class partners with which to team."

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9. Posted by Lapps, 29/01/2020 16:44

"Well now we know!
When I originally saw Max's Article the only thing that made sense was if Mercedes was lurking somewhere in the background. Now we find that Mr Stroll and Toto are in bed (metaphorically) and Money, Trademarks, Engineering Resources and Branding(s) are flying backwards and forwards between at least three Teams.
Overall good news I think. It should both freshen up the Field and level it (a bit). Here's hoping!!"

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10. Posted by Spindoctor, 29/01/2020 8:15

"I think Aston's problem is that classic of British Industry: investment - or more accurately, the lack of it.
The closest analogue I can think of is McLaren. When Ron Dennis decided to go head-to-head with Ferrari et al his first move was to invest, invest, and then invest a bit more. He developed a plan and then in typical Ron style, implemented it effectively. A key aspect of this was analysing not only the technical challenges, but also the 'how to' of production engineering and the potential market for the car(s) which McLaren could produce. In a word 'realism'.

Aston could follow an analogous path, but it would be exceptionally costly, and require taking a pretty ruthless hatchet to the current offer. There's nothing much wrong with the current cars, but unlike their competitors in the 'semi-bespoke' market, there's no real USP. They fall between a variety of stools. They are 'cheap' enough to be competing with Porsche & Mercedes' top-end cars while lacking the immediate racing glamour (& technology) of Ferrari, the technical sophistication of McLaren, the image of RR, and so-on.

If Aston is to survive it must up its game significantly by finding that special 'something' apart from a (distant) 'heritage'. Like Mr Noble I see no reason to blow my pension fund on any of their current cars, but dream of doing so on a McLaren, Ferrari, or perhaps even a Porker. Having identified that something; the chequebook would need to open and stay open, with no reward, for a good long time.....
It's not impossible, far from it, but the Aston emerging phoenix-like from the ashes, would be a very different (if still be-winged) beast. The offer, at least initially, would probably be a much more modest range of vehicles designed for 21st Century, based on sophisticated and flexible underpinnings, and targeted at an identified demographic of potential purchasers. All of that engineered & produced to the highest standards. "

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11. Posted by Spartacus, 27/01/2020 20:36

"I would agree with "Uffen's" post. Nice writing. I would like to make a specific note on the re-badge of team engines. Although I understand it is a marketing exercise and financial generator for the teams. The re-badge really waters down the essence of F1. Yes, it has been done for decades. I can remember the Chevy-Ilmore or the Mercedes-Ilmore of CART and the Tag Heuer (Renault PU) and now Aston Martin (Honda PU) of the Redbull F1 team. If someone or any of you have others please post them! Williams Mecachrome SAS, which after some research was a Renault designed, Mechachrome SAS Aviation built/manufactured engine? The question comes to mind "Who really designs and manufactures the engines?" that name should be on the badge. Even if it is a Honda engine, where is it designed and manufactured? I shouldn't have to dig for the information in regards to this. F1 along with the teams, should really recognize the intense research and development of these incredible devices and let the public know about what actually goes into F1."

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12. Posted by Uffen, 26/01/2020 22:24

"Wonderfully written, Max. As for Aston Martin I fear that rescuing the brand may necessitate bending the brand till it breaks. I hope not, though.
I must say though, in my opinion slapping the name Aston Martin on the back of a Honda-powered car is not on - no pride there. That's not to knock Honda, but to dispair at such marketing exercises. "

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