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At Aston Martin Factory, Artisans and Technology Combine to Create Luxury Cars

Intricate, 200-hour build process sometimes includes a final inspection from the CEO himself.

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Aston Martin builds some of the most complex, high-performance cars on Earth at its Gaydon factory in Warwickshire, England. And though the company still builds each one automobile by hand, its assembly facility is an amazing amalgam of artisanal craftsmanship and technological progress.

Opened in 2003, the Gaydon plant is the birthplace of the company’s DB11, Vanquish, Rapide, and Vantage models. Many of the builders and apprentices at the shop are second-and even third-generation skilled tradespeople. However, the more than 100-year-old company has also kept up with the times, reports The VergeThe opulent leather seats are stitched together from a computer-generated pattern, and the slabs of aluminum that made up the vehicle body are heat-treated and bonded to make the car’s structure stronger and lighter than traditional steel. Though some might think building cars by hand is inconsistent with a high-tech process, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer disagrees. “They’re not mutually exclusive. Handmade doesn’t necessarily mean lack of technology,” he told The Verge. 

A new Aston Martin vehicle is started every 26 minutes and is closely scrutinized along the 200-hour build process before it reaches final inspection. The CEO himself has been known to do that final check.

“We make 5,200 cars a year and every one of them is different,” Palmer said. “And you can’t program a robot if you try to work out the number of end items that is everything that goes into a car. It’s infinitesimal. Computers are incapable. AI eventually might get there. But the complexity of putting 10,000 parts together in a car factory where couple of hundred of those will be different to every car. Today only a human can do that.”

Read full story at The Verge