GAYDON, United Kingdom — Henry Ford created a monster.
The mastermind of mass production gave rise to the modern automobile industry by perfecting the art of building cars quickly and cheaply. In 2010, Ford's assembly line concept was responsible for the nearly 78 million vehicles that rolled out of the world's factories that year. That's more than 213,000 new cars produced each day — kinda makes your Camry feel a little less special, doesn't it?
Though Aston Martin's typical assembly process involves a "line," it doesn’t exactly churn out cars ad infinitum. It took 70 years for the British firm to sell its first 10,000 vehicles. Even today its elegant creations remain handmade by a small army of workers at the company's headquarters in Gaydon, nestled on the edge of the idyllic Cotswolds region in the British countryside.
But when Aston set out to build its radical One-77 flagship, it stepped away from its main manufacturing facility and constructed a small structure where it turned the assembly line concept upside down. Rather than move the car along a line as it's constructed, there are seven workstations where craftsmen and parts revolve around each vehicle. The setup hews more closely to the golden age of bespoke coachbuilding than the brave new world of hyper-efficient mass-production.
Above: Pretty in white, a finished One-77 awaits final testing. Photo: Nick Dimbleby