In 2002 Dr Ulrich Bez and his team of merry men (and women) produced a 10-year plan to turn Aston Martin into a British alternative to Ferrari. His idea was to produce a range of cars based on one common platform that would be good enough to take on the world with. And for a while it happened and, for a while, it was magnificent to behold.
But that was over a decade ago, since then the world has caught up with and overtaken Aston Martin. And now, today, Aston needs desperately to move forwards again merely to keep up. It needs a Boxster moment, basically, and there’s only one person to look towards for such inspiration – to the man who saved the company first time round.
Question is, can he pull it off one more time? This type of task is always that much more difficult to achieve second time around – because it’s a bit like that second cup of tea, the one that never tastes quite as delicious as the first.
Added to which is the not insignificant fact that Aston is nowhere near as well financed as it was during the rebirth of 2002. In the short term things look secure enough for the 99-year-old company, Dr Bez having announced recently that he’s completed a £304m bond issue to secure Aston’s stability for the next seven years. But in the longer term it’s not just the financial platform one worries about but the absence of any real creative spark, too.
Because although individually the cars still look stunning enough, and are pretty damn decent to drive, collectively the overall vision now feels so familiar, you do wonder – how much longer will Aston’s customers remain loyal if all they’re presented with is more of the same but different, time and again?
Any suggestions as to what Aston Martin should do next would, I’m sure, be most welcome.