While Aston Martin is among the most storied British sports car brands, it's had its share of ups and downs over the decades.

Now it appears that the man who helped return Aston Martin to prominence and give it a role as a global player is about to retire.

Dr. Ulrich Bez, who has led the brand since 2000, will step down and take a more "ambassadorial" role, according to Autocar.

Bez was appointed as CEO of Aston Martin under Ford ownership, and stayed on even after Ford spun it out to private investors in 2007.

On his watch, Aston Martin sales rose from a few hundred each year to thousands.

And Aston Martins continued in perhaps their best-known public role: conveying James Bond, Agent 007, on his exploits.

Under Bez, the company also moved from its traditional home, Newport Pagnell, to new and more modern facilities in Gaydon.

And he was considered to be the father of the 1994 Aston Martin DB7, its first new volume car after some years of scattered product development.

That model, built from 1994 through 2004, sold more than any other Aston in history--more than 7,000 altogether, in coupe and convertible models.

The DB7 effectively brought the company back into contention among buyers of pricey, high-performance sports cars.

According to the report, Bez will retire this summer sometime after a successor has been announced, to provide for a smooth transition.