A question we often get asked here at the museum is, ”What’s your favourite Aston Martin?” and “Have you driven one?”. Whilst a couple of us are lucky enough to have driven some of the older cars in the Collection, this got me thinking! Here at the barn, the AMHT team are immersed daily in the history of Aston Martin and are continually learning more about the cars, the people and the stories of Aston Martin’s past. Our archives are full of brochures, catalogues, photographs, letters, trophies and more, that bring this history to life, but how much do we really know about Aston Martin today? Yes, we see their slick marketing campaigns and read the impressive technical facts of these amazing cars, but we haven’t personally experienced the modern-day cars to fully be able to understand and appreciate the journey that Aston Martin has been on for the past 110 years and how the cars have evolved.
HWM have been great supporters of the Trust for many years and their passion for heritage and cars is evident, having been in operation since 1938. They seemed the perfect place to start in our quest to learn more about the modern cars and what it means to be an Aston Martin dealership today. We were delighted when Guy Jenner, CEO agreed to welcome the AMHT Team for a day.
We arrived on the day excited, although a little apprehensive, especially as it was a frosty January morning. We received a friendly welcome and were taken through to the customer experience lounge where the selection of paint colours and threads, along with samples of bespoke callipers and more were on display. For a moment we could imagine what it was like to be a customer deciding on the options for their car.
And then came the driving experience!
Each team member got to test drive four of the current core models; the brand new DB12, the Vantage V8 Roadster, the DBX V8 and the DBX707. The various HWM team members that accompanied us on the test drives were exceptional! Despite at first feeling like we were on our very first driving test, they soon made us feel at ease and guided us through the streets of Walton-on-Thames. They provided a narrative that helped give a greater understanding of the car whilst driving and soon we felt relaxed and could appreciate the true power, luxury, and refinement that these cars have to offer. Below are a few words from the team summarising their test drive experience.
“It was just amazing to be given the opportunity to experience the thrill of being behind the wheel of an Aston Martin. And not just once, but four times! I couldn’t pick only one highlight as it was all so incredible, but I loved the noise and power of the engines and would like a Vantage Roadster in Cinnabar Orange please.”
“Having never driven a car quite as large as an Aston Martin, I assumed I would like the Vantage the most, with it being a slightly smaller model. Surprisingly I felt more comfortable in the DBX and DBX-707, proving size isn’t important after all!”
“A superb opportunity to catch up on Aston Martin’s current models. First time to even sit in either the DBX or the DB12 models. Hugely impressed with the layout and levels of equipment. The DB12 was so easy to drive in heavy traffic and then changes to a supercar as soon as the road opens up. The latest V8 Vantage remains light, nimble and agile and is great fun to drive. Both DBX models were beautifully finished and so comfortable to drive, they had superb handling and ride comfort. The “standard” DBX has as much power as you really need but the 707 really amazed me with its performance and became a GT rather than an SUV. All round the Aston Martins of today still offer a unique and very special driving experience.
“For somebody who hasn’t driven a luxury car before, this was a truly unique and memorable experience and I can now fully appreciate the appeal of owning one of these works of art! You can feel the beauty and power at the same time. Amazing!”
The day was much more than just test driving the cars though. We also received a tour of the showroom, workshops, photographic studio, and history corner. We were given the background of the company and how it has evolved over the years to remain current and hence successful. Its history was richer than I had imagined and Bryony, who looks after our Heritage Services said, “I had seen ‘HWM’ as the named dealership on lots of period build sheets, so it was very interesting to hear more about the history of the company”.
We were surprised at how busy it was, yet despite the constant activity throughout the day the atmosphere felt calm and professional. It had a feel about it that made you feel at home and want to come and visit again and it demonstrates that HWM is so much more than just a car sales room.
A huge thank you to Guy Jenner and Grace Dickenson and the rest of the HWM Team for a magical day with so much learnt that we can now share with visitors to the museum and supporters of the Trust. We look forward to continuing working alongside you.
So what next for AMHT Team?… Maybe the racetrack!