After receiving an invitation from Tom Wood, our Area 22 Aston Martin Owner’s Club representative to join him on a visit to Vaughtons in Birmingham’s famous jewellery quarter, I couldn’t refuse.
I was up early the next day and met Tom along with 20 other AMOC members at Vaughtons, where we were warmly welcomed by Nick Hobbis, Vaughtons Managing Director and Paul Hornby, Vaughtons Quality Manager before being shown around the fascinating premises where the Aston Martin bonnet badges are created.
Having recently celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2019, Vaughtons have for the past eight years supplied Aston Martin with the Iconic wing badges that proudly adorn the bonnet of every model.
From the press shop, enamelling and polishing departments, the whole process is mesmerising; each badge is meticulously hand crafted with 35 individual processes ranging from pressing the badges multiple times using up to 600 tonnes of pressure to eight stages of enamelling, which help give the badge depth and more importantly stop anyone trying to copy them.
We were even allowed to try our hand at enamelling a bonnet badge, but I don’t think I’d quite make the cut at Vaughtons anytime soon – after all, I wouldn’t want to ruin their 0% rejection rate from Aston Martin. Thankfully, each badge is subject to multiple checks before heading off to Aston Martin.
Looking through Vaughtons’ back catalogue, you quickly learn that the famous Aston Martin wings are just one of the team’s iconic projects. They were responsible, for example, for producing the First Class cabin plaques on the Titanic. Vaughtons has also created specialist fine crafted bespoke regalia for some of the most important men and women in the world – from Presidents to royal families – prestigious work, such as the FA Cup and the 1908 Olympic medals. It is believed that predominantly, a lot of these jobs were due to Howard Vaughton being involved in the business.
Howard Vaughton, born 1st September 1861, was the grandson of the company’s founder, Philip Vaughton. Howard was a very famous footballer of his time, playing for Aston Villa and England.
The team at Vaughtons also create bespoke elements, much like the badges fitted to the one of 15 limited edition Aston Martin DB9 Pearl Edition exclusively for the Middle East region. Each badge on these exquisite machines are adorned with 42 mother of pearl inlays each 1.3mm thick, fitted by hand taking over six hours per badge.
Before this trip, every badge was just a form of understanding the make and model of each vehicle, but my eyes have been opened. It’s a great reassurance to know that even something as simple as a bonnet badge on an Aston Martin is actually a masterpiece of design, craft and engineering. No longer just a logo, to me it’s the crowning jewel of each and every Aston Martin.