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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Published: 25/01/2020
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