Like many of the established marques in motoring and motor racing Aston Martin has had many ups and downs throughout its time, any one of which could have easily put it out of business. This is especially so from its earliest days. What is fascinating is the course of history, or chain of events, that put the right people in the right places at the right times to save such situations. How Aston Martin and Bert Bertelli became entwined is a truly interesting example.
Who was Bert Bertelli?
Some 30 years or so before Bamford & Martin made their first car, one of Aston Martin s saviors was moving into position although at just four years old the young Gus Bertelli, as his family referred to him, Bert being a name given by his racing friends was completely unaware. The Bertelli family of Genoa, Italy, were becoming tired and agitated with the political landscape of their country, which was then in the hands of the Socialists. This left Italy open to corruption and instability. Bertelli s uncle was very anti-religious and used to rant on the steps of Turin Cathedral. He was effectively told to stop, or leave the country. Given these reasons they felt the only thing to do was to emigrate. Their destination was planned to be the relatively new world of North America for a fresh start. The USA seemed to offer them greater opportunities, stability and a place where the family could fulfil their dreams. However, due to a storm in the Bay of Biscay, the family didn t complete their journey, docking instead in Cardiff, Wales, many miles short of their intended destination. Not wishing to continue in the inclement weather, along with several other families they set up home in the place they d docked. The young Domenico Augustus Cesare Bertelli (who later dropped his first name) flourished in his new surroundings. He loved the arts and was a keen sportsman playing rugby for the Cardiff XV in later life. His ambition was to become a marine engineer given Cardiff s strong history of dockyards and ships although, it must be stressed, its importance was waning by the time Bertelli left school. His first employment was at the old Dowlais Ironworks, now in the hands of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds (GKN) of Merthyr Tydfil, as an apprentice engineer his mind already swayed from ships to motor cars as he could see a bright future for this burgeoning industry.
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