Aston Martin Lagonda

Aston Martin Lagonda


Aston Martin was facing financial pressure in the mid-1970s and needed something to bring in some much-needed funds. Traditionally, Aston Martin had worked on 2+2 sports cars, but the Lagonda was a four-door saloon. As soon as it was introduced, it drew in hundreds of deposits from potential customers, helping Aston Martin’s cash reserves. After the production of seven Series 1 cars, the Lagonda was designed from the ground up in 1976 by William Towns as an extreme interpretation of the classic 1970s “folded paper” style. Together with famous contemporaries like the Lamborghini Countach, Lotus Esprit, and the DMC DeLorean, the Lagonda is frequently named among the most striking wedge-shaped designs of all. The Lagonda combined striking styling with premium leather interior, and advanced instrumentation for its time. Coupled to a Chrysler three-speed “TorqueFlite” automatic transmission its four-cam carbureted V8 provided poor, often single-digit, fuel economy, little improved by the change to fuel-injection in the Series 3. Throughout the history of the marque, the hand-built Lagonda was amongst the most expensive luxury saloons in the world. The only other production cars to approach its price tag were the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit/Silver Spur and the Bentley Mulsanne. The Lagonda was the first production car to use a digital instrument panel. The Series 3 used cathode ray tubes for the instrumentation, which proved even less reliable than the original model’s light-emitting diode (LED) display. It was named by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of the 50 ugliest cars of the last 50 years and Time Magazine included it in its “50 Worst Cars of All Time”, describing it as a mechanical “catastrophe” with electronics that would be impressive if they ever worked. A long-wheelbase, four-door version of the Aston Martin V8 was announced at the 1974 London Motor Show. Designed by William Towns and based on the DBS, it was the first car to wear the Lagonda name since the 1961 Rapide. The 5.3 L V8 engine was supplied with either a 5-speed manual or automatic transmission. Only seven were sold. At least 2 of the cars having chassis numbers 12003 and 12005, have been upgraded by R.S. Williams, Ltd of Cobham to a 7.0 litre version of the original Aston Martin V8 engine, able to generate a power output ranging from 440 to 480 hp (328 to 358 kW; 446 to 487 PS) to on unleaded fuel. The wedge shaped Lagonda V8 saloon was launched in 1976 at the London Motor Show and was a total contrast to the 1974 model, sharing little but the engine. Deliveries of the Lagonda did not commence until 1979. Series 2 cars were originally fitted with digital LED dashboards and touch pad controls, but the innovative steering wheel controls and gas plasma display were abandoned in 1980. The Lagonda retailed at GB£49,933 in 1980, significantly more than a Ferrari 400 or Maserati Kyalami but less than a Rolls-Royce Corniche. The car commenced sales in the US from 1982 with minor amendments to the front bumper and airdam due to regulations. The Series 3 was produced for only one year with 75 units manufactured, and featured fuel injected engines. Originally with cathode ray tube instruments, later versions featured a vacuum fluorescent display system similar to that used by some Vauxhalls and Opels, but were the same as the Series 2 model from the exterior. The Series 4 was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1987 and received a significant exterior facelift by the car’s original designer William Towns. The car’s sharp edges were rounded off and the pop-up headlights were eliminated, with a new arrangement of triple headlights on each side of the grille being the most obvious alteration, along with the removal of the side swage line (or character line) and the introduction of 16-inch wheels. With production of around one car per week, 105 Series 4 cars were manufactured. The last car was produced during January 1990. 81 remain registered in the United Kingdom as of 2011, down only slightly from 94 in 1994, but 32 of the surviving examples are SORN. Aftermarket variations of the Lagonda included. Tickford Lagonda (1983) – Five Series 2 Lagondas were sold with a bodykit and upgraded interiors. Tickford limousine (1984) – Four long-wheelbase Lagondas were made, at a cost of GB£110,000 each. Rapide (a two-door, short-wheelbase version) – One made, and shared the front triple light design of the Series 4. Shooting-brake (Estate), by Swiss company Roos Engineering – One made in 1998 using a 1987 model.