Hackett and Aston Martin
Since 2005 the British clothing brand Hackett has been the official partner to the Aston Martin Racing team, providing official team clothing and selling a range of licensed clothing and accessories.
Whilst Aston Martin Racing’s official presence in GT racing has moved across classes with variable success since 2004, 2013 looks to be the year where the team truly cements its position at the top of the tree with their Vantage GTEs leading the way. This proved to be the case in the first round of the World Endurance Championship at Silverstone the other week when the Astons secured a sensational double victory in both Pro and Am classes.
We were able to spend the day witnessing how standard, road-going Aston Martins are created at the company’s factory in Gaydon and how Prodrive brings the Vantage GTE to life as a racer at their Banbury headquarters. What was clear was the time required to craft such exclusive machinery and the associated sense of pride that goes with this investment. As such, it is obvious to see why Aston Martin Racing and Hackett have maintained such a long and successful partnership.
The Aston Martin factory in Gaydon is a monolithic slab of modern design. Situated in rural Warwickshire, it was opened in 2004 to herald a new era in Aston Martin’s storied history that would allow it to compete with its larger rivals. Production line, museum and nerve centre. It has it all. Most impressive of all is the way in which modern techniques are being implemented without sacrificing the traditional staples that have always made Aston Martins lusted-after pieces of luxury design. Whilst one side of the factory has racks and racks of chassis – whether for Vanquish, DB9 or Rapide – all bar-coded to index myriad options such as colour, fascia or delivery country, another corner contains several women stitching the upholstery by hand as has been the case from DB2 to DB9.
Our guide repeatedly reminds us that it is time that sets the creation of Aston Martins apart. It is an obsession with man-hours. Something that gives you a piece of quantifiable data to judge just how much pride and quality goes into every single Aston that roles off the production line at Gaydon. 200 hours per car. 50 hours just for the paint. As our guide cheekily points out, 50 hours is the equivalent of the whole production span of a Porsche.
Tour completed the brand new Vanquish appears, ready to be sampled. Confronted with the finished article it quickly becomes apparent that the previous 200 hours were time well spent. The passing of time brings smoothness to the mixture, folding out imperfections and lumps that may hinder one’s enjoyment. The Vanquish is not a light, darting sports car such as the DBS or 911. And its speed is not the screaming, hyperactive movement of a Ferrari. This is a Grand Tourer. You arrive at ludicrous speeds with the minimum of fuss, the tuned growl of the V12 letting you know that it has broken sweat and speed limits are being broken two fold or more. The drive is the perfect statement to end the tour of Gaydon. While Aston Martins have moved into the modern world they will always retain a certain sense of something else.
A few miles down the M40 from Gaydon lies Prodrive and the home of Aston Martin Racing. Hackett’s involvement in the team is evident in the company’s heritage centre with the DBR9 which won the 2007 24 hours of Le Mans LMGT1 Class sitting dormant next to the last season’s Gulf Oil liveried Vantage GTE.
While Gaydon has an air of calm relentlessness to it Aston Martin Racing’s HQ is a busy hive of activity. During the tour all five cars expected to race at the upcoming WEC round at Spa were present with a dedicated team of mechanics swarming around each. Despite the Vantage shells being hand picked from Gaydon the finished article that arrives on the circuit will be an entirely custom creation. Prodrive fabricates and constructs most of the internals on site whether that be engine, gearbox or electrics. Indeed one entire room is dedicated to CAD machining – a perfectly balanced piece of suspension an example of what can be achieved. As with Gaydon, the Aston Martin Racing team is a balance forward thinking modern design processes coupled with skills that have been learnt and honed thanks to decades in racing.
It is this formula that also underpins the tailoring of Hackett and why these two distinctly British companies have paired with each other. It is also why we have a sneaky suspicion that the Vantage GTEs will find success in the WEC and Le Mans this year. Let’s keep an eye out and see if they do.