Tens of thousands of eager owners and enthusiasts made the trip to Kensington Gardens, London, yesterday to witness the largest gathering of cars in history as the year-long programme of Aston Martin centenary celebrations made its way to the UK.
The unique display of some of the finest British sports cars ever made – which included a timeline of highly significant Aston Martin models as well as displays dedicated to the brand’s 50-year love affair with James Bond, its proud motorsport heritage and much else besides – drew exhibitors and visitors from across the UK, and far beyond.
Staged by the Aston Martin Owners Club, Aston Martin Heritage Trust and Aston Martin, and held with the kind permission of The Royal Parks and The Royal Household, the celebration in the capital was the culmination of a week-long programme of centenary activity which included specially-created driving tours across Europe as well as a host of unique events at the brand’s Gaydon headquarters.
Yesterday’s celebration, held under blazing sun and clear blue skies, saw an unprecedented gathering of the rarest, most significant and most beautiful Aston Martins ever made muster in the historic surroundings of Kensington Gardens.
As many as 550 Aston Martin models – worth around an estimated £1 billion – were on display in the Park or parked at nearby Perks Field, meaning the event also represented the largest single gathering of Aston Martins in history.
CEO Dr Ulrich Bez joined the events in London, which also included a glittering black tie party on Saturday night for 1000 owners and invited guests at the Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street in the heart of the city. The party featured entertainment from national radio DJ Benji B, plus composer Grant Windsor and the 16-piece band Deviation Strings.
Dr Bez said: “The weekend was a fantastic celebration of all things Aston Martin and, I believe, shows why the brand retains such a special place in the hearts of so many owners and enthusiasts around the world.”
Themed car displays told Aston Martin’s remarkable story with the centrepiece of the event, the Centenary Timeline Display on the Broadwalk, taking visitors on a 100-year journey from the origins of the brand in Henniker Mews, Chelsea, to its current global headquarters in Warwickshire.
Every significant Aston Martin road car was represented from ‘A3’, the oldest surviving car, to the Vanquish Centenary Edition, forthcoming V12 Vantage S and Vanquish Volante. Meanwhile the luxury sports car maker’s exciting future was represented by the exceptional CC100 Speedster Concept – a tantalising glimpse of the potential shape of the brand’s cars in years to come.
Elsewhere in the park a Centenary Selection display was created to showcase the diverse and uniquely bespoke nature of the brand. This varied line-up included cars rarely seen outside of private collections including a brace of new Zagato models, the trio of Bertone Jets, and a number of other unique cars commissioned over the years by passionate customers around the world.
Aston Martin’s proud 50-year association with James Bond was of course enthusiastically marked with seven of the movie cars on display including the iconic DB5 from the most recent blockbuster, Skyfall.
Motorsport was, naturally, a key feature in Kensington, too, with a display dedicated to some of the most significant and successful racing cars in Aston Martin history. Highlights included the Ulster, iconic DBR1, legendary DB4 GT Zagato and Gulf-liveried V8 Vantage GTE.
Entry to the Centenary Celebration was free and upwards of 50,000 owners, enthusiasts and casual visitors soaked up the sun as they viewed rare and exceptional models drawn from Aston Martin’s sumptuous 100-year history.
Dr Bez said: “Heritage is a vital part of the Aston Martin story and it is only right that we celebrate this in spectacular style here in the brand’s UK home. Now we can look to further global activities starting with our participation at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in just a few weeks’ time.”