End of line for 007's super car

THE GROWL of powerful road machines at Wykham Mill has been reduced to a purr as Aston Martin's final DB7, made popular by James Bond films, rolled off the production line.

It signals the end of a decade of manufacturing by the company at the factory near Bloxham.

The site will keep producing several other models, the DB AR1 and the Zagato sports coupe until the new year, when the company hopes to sell the site.

In February, 2002 the Banbury Guardian reported the factory was going to close.

But, at the time the company suggested this would be phased out over a period of up to eight years, with the belief a new role could be found for the site.

But Aston Martin has now decided to stop production of the DB7 completely and begin the manufacture of its new DB9 supercar, launched three months ago, at the company's new Gaydon base.

An spokesman from Aston Martin said staff from the Wykham Mill site, which originally employed 350 people, would be retained to work at Gaydon.

He said: "As far as staff issues go, it is only the next junction up on the motorway.

"There are about 100 people working at Bloxham because the rest have relocated to Gaydon already."

The factory has been making the Aston Martin DB7 model since 1993, when the company bought the site from Jaguar.

Since then, the DB7 has become the most popular Aston Martin in the company's 89-year history, accounting for more than one third of the 20,000 Aston Martins made in that time.

Famous owners of the DB7 include David Beckham, Jennifer Lopez and Nicholas Cage.

The DB7 was the first new design to be produced after Aston Martin was bought by US car giant Ford in 1987.

It has a six-litre V12 engine giving up to 420 brake horsepower, a top speed of 180 miles per hour and goes from 0 to 62 mph in five seconds. It costs more than 100,000.

Banbury Chamber of Commerce was disappointed the company was leaving but cautiously optimistic about the future of the site.

Malcolm Nutt, a member of the chamber's executive, said: "It will be a shame to lose such a company as Aston Martin, because it brings a lot of prestige to the area. But I am aware that there is a lot of interest in the site.

"It may be that there are a number of companies going in there, depending on who buys it.

"And this may even mean a net increase in jobs."