After incurring heavy losses last year, Ford Motor Co. hopes to get in some cash flow by disposing the profitable Aston Martin luxury sports-car unit for $848 million to investors led by U.K. auto-racing champion David Richards. Best know as James Bond’s ‘preferred car’, the transaction places Aston Martin at 479 million pounds ($925 million). Ford will however retain a $77 million stake in it. Completing the full circle, paradoxically Ford had bought its initial stake in the company while on its way to posting a then-record 1987 profit. This sale will relieve Ford of its twenty years of control in the U.K.-based Aston Martin. What forced Ford to take such a drastic step were its $12.7 billion losses (the most in its 103-year history) last year. Aston Martin, with price tags starting at $110,000 for the Vantage coupe, accounts for less than 1% of Ford’s global sales volume.
Aston cars gained popularity after featuring in the James Bond movies. Its big screen debut was with 1964’s “Goldfinger” and most recently in last year’s “Casino Royale.” Ford is the world’s third-largest automaker behind General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp.