60 Years of Lagonda Rapide

Today, there is little left of the once great British brand Lagonda It belongs to Aston Martin as a subsidiary since 1947. Under the leadership of David Brown, the once insolvent luxury brand was to blossom anew and be positioned as a comfortable counterpart to Aston Martin’s sports cars. However, not much came of it. It remained with a few noble sedans and coupés. Production ended in 1958 after around 800 units, and three years later a new Lagonda model appeared for the last time. The Rapide, meanwhile, also failed. Between 1974 and 1989, the former brand name served purely as a model designation for a wedge-shaped sports sedan designed by William Towns. In the past ten years there have been a few concept cars with electric drive. Aston Martin may want to revive the Lagonda brand.

Straight six-cylinder engine under the hood

But back to the Lagonda Rapide of 1961, company boss David Brown wanted a sporty sedan based on the Aston Martin DB4, but not be offered under this brand logo. When he bought up Lagonda, he did so particularly because of the inline six-cylinder engine developed by Walter Owen Bentley, which he wanted to use for new sports car models starting with the DB2. Now the further developed version with a displacement expansion to four liters found its way back into a Lagonda. The output was 236 hp. Optionally, the Rapide could also be ordered with the 3.7-liter powerplant directly from the DB4 Vantage. Thanks to three carburetors and a machined cylinder head, 266 hp was available. A three-speed automatic sorted the gears ex works, alternatively you had to do it yourself with a four-speed manual transmission.

Aluminium body designed by Touring

Visually, the Lagonda Rapide was to fit into Aston Martin’s existing model range on the one hand, but also introduce new details on the other. To this end, David Brown gave precise instructions to Carrozzeria Touring in Milan, where the DB4, DB5 and DB6 were also designed. The tail fins with three round lights on each side are reminiscent of the DB4. At the front, the Italians integrated a collar-shaped radiator grille between the twin headlights. The aluminium body panels were mounted on a Superleggera frame. Under the four-door sedan body was the chassis of the DB4, which had been extended by 400 millimeters. However, the new DeDion rear axle, which only appeared on the sports cars in the DB5, was already installed here. Inside, the Rapide offered the finest leather and precious wood on the dashboard and the folding tables in the rear.

Lagonda Rapide at Bonhams

Until 1964, only 55 examples of the Lagonda Rapide were built exclusively to order. Of these, 48 are still known to exist today. Bonhams is offering one car as part of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The Rapide with chassis number LR/121/R left the factory with an automatic transmission, but received a conversion to a ZF five-speed manual gearbox back in the factory in June 1965. Another eight months later, the car received a replacement engine. At Bonhams, this Lagonda is already well known. In 2006, the auction house sold it at auction in Brookline, Massachusetts. Five years later, it appeared again at an auction as part of the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. Now, for the third time, interested parties have a chance to acquire this Rapide. As the car has been stored unmoved for the last few years, some service work will need to be carried out before it can be put into service. Bonhams expects a hammer price of between £ 70,000 and £ 100,000.

Images: Bonhams