By Jim Motavalli
12:00 PM EST, November 20, 2012
I don't know about you guys, but I was never a huge James Bond fan. It may be that living overseas during the heyday of the 60s movies left me emotionally immune. I haven't seen most of those films — Thunderball, Goldfinger — to this day.
I did, however, love the cars. I had a tiny Bond model Aston Martin DB5, complete with ejector seat and iconic wire wheels. Astons I can kind of get excited about, even though the stratospheric price of the classic models is a huge deterrent.
In the latest film, Skyfall, with Daniel Craig as Bond, a 1963 Aston DB5 is back on duty again. You'd think that would lift the fortunes of eternally struggling Aston Martin, but instead Bloomberg is reporting that its primary owner, Investment Dar Company in Kuwait, is hoping to sell its 64 percent stake. Once there'd have been frantic bidders, but we're not likely to see them now. Supercars are a bit passé, and the cars often garish, designed with the still enthusiastic Middle East market in mind. The Kuwaiti ownership isn't that surprising — they can afford the gas for these guzzlers.
Aston Martin was sold by Ford in 2007. The New York Times reports that the Kuwaiti company's share was valued at $805 million then, but it's less than that now. Both Toyota and Indian company Mahindra & Mahindra are reportedly interested in Aston Martin, Bloomberg reported, but the company denies it's for sale.
Jaguar and Land Rover, of course, are already owned by Indian company Tata, and shipping Aston there could be seen as a blow to British pride, if it didn't already have Kuwaiti ownership. BMW owns Mini and Rolls Royce, but Volkswagen captured the gentlemen's carriage known as the Bentley. In most cases these automakers still have bases in Britain, but the country long since stopped being an automotive power.
In fact, there's not a single British auto manufacturer of any size with British ownership. The last one is Morgan, founded in 1910. There are still Morgans running the company, but it's tiny — just 640 hand-assembled cars produced in 2007. You'll wait years for one of these "bespoke" sports cars.
"There is an almost irresistible intimacy about Morgan that sucks you in until you find yourself thinking of reasons you need to own one," reports The Telegraph. The appeal passes me by, though the three-wheelers this company occasionally wheels out are cute.
Long gone: MG, British Leyland, Rover, Triumph and many more. Armstrong-Siddeley, anyone? I saw a Riley at the Hershey show recently and it took me quite a while to realize what it was.
It's not just Great Britain that has its automotive heritage on the line. Volvo? The Chinese have that one, and they almost had Saab, too, to complete the European selloff.
It doesn't matter who owns Aston Martin at this point. James Bond would shed a tear.
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