A Glossary of All Things Aston Martin
By Andrew Miterko | Aug 7, 2019
F ounded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, Aston Martin has grown to become an icon in the automotive world, synonymous with style, luxury, performance and exclusivity. Throughout the marque’s history, their sports and GT cars have formed the basis for their race cars culminating in a historic victory in the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours with the DBR1 and returning to competition in 2005. Aston Martin has one of the longest histories in the British car industry and has always stayed true to the marque’s image and roots by creating a portfolio of some of the most praised sports cars of all time. The August 2019 RM Sotheby’s: Monterey auction was the perfect event to celebrate Aston Martin’s milestone anniversary of its motorsport history and the exceptional road cars that have come to define the brand. As over 30 Aston Martin models were offered during the single-day sale, there’s no better time than now to refresh your knowledge of commonly used names and terminology regarding Aston Martin models.
The name Aston Martin originates from Lionel Martin himself, who used to race specials on a long stretch of roadway near Aston Clinton in the Vale of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, UK, used for the Aston Clinton Hillclimb race.
Touring were coachbuilders from Milan, Italy, responsible for crafting the lightweight aluminum body of the DB4. Superleggera is the Italian word for “superlight” and is a method for car coachwork construction developed by Felice Bianchi Anderloni; it consists of a structural framework utilizing small-diameter steel tubes that form the body’s shape, which are covered by thin alloy body panels that strengthen the framework.
Sir David Brown was an English businessman who bought Aston Martin in 1947 and Lagonda in 1948. He purchased Lagonda mainly for its W.O. Bentley–designed straight-six engine, knowing that Aston Martin’s expertise lay in their chassis. The first model produced under Brown’s ownership of the two companies was the DB2 in 1950 and has created a lineage of esteemed sports cars, the initials of which continue to mark present-day models.
The de Dion tube is a type of car suspension used on the Lagonda Rapide and all Aston Martin V-8 models. It is a sophisticated form of non-independent suspension and uses universal joints at both the wheel hubs and differential. It uses a solid tubular beam to hold the opposite wheels in parallel, although is not directly connected to the chassis.
Diamond turning is a multi-stage process often used in the finishing of alloy wheels. Initial stages of machining are carried out using a series of CNC lathes of increasing accuracy. A diamond-tipped lathe tool is used in the final stages of the manufacturing process.
A British-made fabric used to make convertible tops for many cars, such as the DB4 convertible through to the V8 Volante, between the 1960s and 1980s. It is similar to vinyl but is more durable and expensive.
An integrated spoiler designed to increase visibility while reducing lift and enhancing aerodynamic stability at speed. It was a feature that first appeared on their “Project” motorsport prototype cars and later appeared in production on the DB6.
The Lagonda Company was formed by Wilbur Gunn in 1899 and merged with Aston Martin after being purchased by David Brown in 1948. Aston Martin relaunched Lagonda in 2014 and is now an integral part of the brand.
Mohair hooding material is an acrylic-based material developed in the early 1990s, offering full, 100 percent waterproofing thanks to advanced modern weaving technology and was used in a number of Volante models. Among the first to feature this new material was the Virage Volante.
Known to many as the historical home of Aston Martin, the Newport Pagnell facility was the location of the sole Aston Martin factory from 1955 until 1994, with production continuing on select models until 2007, when production of the V12 Vanquish S ended. It is still home to Works Service.
The ultimate personalization design service from the AML facility at Gaydon. They are capable of a wide range of exclusive trim and enhancements to production models, as well as commissioning of entirely bespoke sports cars where the client personally meets with the division’s design team.
Harold Radford and Co. Ltd. were coachbuilders based in South Kensington, London; they were responsible for creating many of the rare DB5 and DB6 Shooting Brake.
SU carburetors were a British brand of carburetor of the side-draft constant-depression type. SU was an abbreviation of Skinners Union; the company was founded by two brothers in London in 1905.
Used to identify a model equipped with an uprated, more powerful engine option. This was first seen in 1958 to describe the optional DBB/ 195 bhp engine as seen in the DB Mark III. Most notably, the term “special series” was used to describe the triple SU carb /SS engine, optional on the DB4 series 4 and series 5.
Shooting-brake is a car body style which originated in the 1890s as a horse-drawn wagon used to transport shooting parties with their equipment and game. In the 1960s, the term evolved to describe a vehicle which incorporates elements of both a coupe and station wagon bodies.
The servicing department at the factory in Newport Pagnell. It was rebranded as Aston Martin Works in 2012. In 2015 the company began its certification program, known as Assured Provenance, where the vehicle is subjected to a full mechanical and historical examination by experts. In addition to servicing and restoring the same cars built there, Aston Martin Works returned to production with the continuation series—a short run of 25 DB4 GT track-ready cars designed and built to the same exacting standards as the originals.
Manufacturers of carburetors and, more recently, fuel-injection systems on the highest-performance Tadek Marek–designed V-6 and V-8 engines found in the DB4 GT and V8 Vantage models between 1977 and 1989
The highest (standard) state of tune available for the 5,340 cc, dual-valve Tadek Marek V-8 engine.
Legendary Italian coachbuilders who have famously worked with Aston Martin on six separate occasions to create distinctive models which marry the quintessential Aston Martin traits with Zagato’s unique lightweight construction and styling.