‘In making an evaluation of the better British cars, the Lagonda V12 certainly must be considered an excellent design and one that contributed to raising the state of the art – not forgetting, of course, that it probably should be considered W O Bentley’s masterpiece.’
– Road & Track, October 1978.
First seen in 1936, the Lagonda V12 did not commence deliveries until 1938 and only 189 have been built before the the 2nd. world war ended production. The advanced chassis employed double-wishbone independent front suspension and was available with a varied choice of coachwork.
Frank Feeley, stylist of Aston Martin’s post-war ‘DB’ cars, was responsible for the elegant factory bodywork as this car has.
A quite remarkable piece of automotive engineering, the W O Bentley-designed Lagonda V12 was one of the outstanding British models of its day and one of the exclusive handful of 1930s road cars that could exceed 100mph in standard tune.
ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC EXAMPLE
This specific Lagonda is not a standard V12. This example is one of the rare examples with the special swaging on the bonnet, doors and wings.
Lagonda made the mistake of showing this swaging in the catalogue illustrations (see the picture below) and on one of the prototypes which was shown at the 1937 London Motor Show.
This was a big mistake of Lagonda as the swaging body was so expensive and time-consuming to produce that the sales force were under instructions to do their best to talk the buyers out of their deal or at least make them happy with a body without the swaged panels.
They didn’t always succeed and therefore 5 examples have been built with this unique body style.
The other Lagonda V12 cars have used the “standard” LG6 body.
This Lagonda was newly delivered to Lagonda’s Glasgow agents on the 30th. of June 1938. It took 3 months before the first owner collected the Lagonda from the agent but on the 14th. of September 1938 the first miles were driven with the car by Mr. A. Fraser Bellfield. At the time it was registered as CGB 454.
The Lagonda was re-registered in June 1947 and received according to the Lagonda Cub the registration JGW 527.
Lagonda Club correspondence on file reveals that the Lagonda was on April 1958 re-registered, bought by a Dr. Turner in Caithness, Wick.
The next recorded owner was in 1962. A gentlemen named Mr. Thomson from Scotland bought the car.
The car was exported to the USA in 1966. In 1972 the owner was Mr. Burling in Massachusetts. This gentlemen sold the Lagonda in 1977 to Mr. Rogers from Massachusetts.
In 1979 the Lagonda was exported to Belgium. and it was in the USA from 1966 till 1979, when it returned to Europe, initially in Belgium.
The car was purchased by an important Lagonda collector in the Netherlands in 1996. This gentlemen owned the Lagonda between 1996 and 2020.
The Dutch collector is a very close friend of us and we always asked him if he would contact us when the Lagonda was getting sold.
Due to the age of our friend he decided to sell this remarkable car which he had extremely thoroughly restored by the late Peter Whenman from Vintage Coachworks in the UK.
Peter Whenman is very well known in the Lagonda world. He was the Lagonda expert and renowned marque specialist.
A quick google research will confirm that this was at the time the best address to restore such an important and unique Lagonda.
Cars are the main hobby of our friend and quality was more important for him then money so without looking at expenses the Lagonda had to be restored as perfect as possible and at the best possible address.
The Lagonda has been very thoroughly restored from bottom to top.
The following have been described in the file as being restored.
Completely strip down chassis, check for straightness. Repairs made when necessary. All mechanical parts on chassis to be re-built using new bearings and bushes as necessary.
Propshaft fitted with new U-joints and balanced.
FRONT SUSPENSION AND STEERING:
Rebuilt of the independent front suspension and steering, using new parts when necessary.
Reset of rear springs. Replace all pins and bushes. Fitment of leather gaiters to spring. Overhaul of rear dampers.
REAR AXLE & DIFFERENTIAL
Rebuilt with new parts
Overhaul of the original Luvac dampers
Rebuild of the jacking system with 4 jacks, pump and pipework
Renew fuel tank & pipework
Rebuilt of the radiator using new core, shell and shutter system repaired and re-chromed
Rebuild bulkhead restoring as original. Replace bonnet seals and rebuilt of the twin fuel pups as well as overhaul of the horns
Strip down and examine all parts. Supply and fit crankshaft and conrods. Bore block and fit new pistons, all crank assembly to be dynamically balanced. Rebuild clutch unit. Re-white metal main bearings. Fit new ball races to all idler assemblies. Renew timing chains, renew water side-plates. Re-grind cam followers and cams as necessary. Fit new valves, guides and springs etc to cylinder head. Fit new water pump. All internal water jackets to be chemically cleaned. Repaint block and heads. Fit rapide inlet manifold and four carburettors. All alloy parts to be vapour blasted, all copper pipes to be polished and all pipework chrome or nickel-plated. Stainless steel nuts and bolts to be used throughout engine.
Strip and rebuilt gearbox using new gears, bearings and seals required.
ANCILLARIES: Rebuild all ancillary equipment i.c., starter, dynamo, distributors, coil, water pump, carburettors, battery master switch, and fuel filter. New hoses and stainless steel clips to be used throughout.
BODY: Remove all filler, repair and reprofile swage lines, minimum filler to be used. Remove and restore wooden doorframe, overhaul window winder mechanism and quarter lights. Overhaul windscreen frame and opening device. Extensively restore and stiffen up main door pillars. Overhaul hood frame and associated parts. Rebuild lower (back area) around enclosed numberplate. Make and fit rear bumper irons. Repair/restore bonnet catches. Repair offside spare wheel covers and nearside tool covers. Finally fit up with original tools, jack pump etc. All panel work to be properly gapped prior to removing body for painting. Final colours to be customer’s choice.
INTERIOR: Restore all floors, footwells etc.
Retrim interior in Connolly hide or equivalent. Carpets in wilton wool.
DASHBOARD: Remake dash in walnut to match door trims. Make missing fill pieces above dash. Gloss varnish all. Restore all instruments and supply various original parts.
WIRING: Re-wire completely in cotton covered wire to original diagram.
WHEELS: Existing chrome wheels to be checked out and repaired as necessary. New Dunlop tyres to be fitted and Ace wheel discs to be painted and fitted.
There are large files coming with the car which are showing a variety of invoices as well as pictures about the work done which is written above.
During the last ownership the Lagonda was enjoyed in numerous tours and revered by knowledgeable automotive enthusiasts while serviced by his own in-house mechanic as well as a Lagonda specialist for a thorough check to ensure that the car was ready in all respects for a tour on every
Finished in a combination with light silver and dark silver paintwork with a beautiful dark grey convertible top the Lagonda is an impressive appearance.
Due to the impressively high quality and thorough restoration as well as the amazing design the car is beautiful to look at.
As mentioned above, this is 1 of only 5 examples with the unique “expensive” original Lagonda body with the unique swages. This body make the Lagonda even more impressive and more special to look at.
The entire exterior is in an absolute amazing and impressive condition.
The paintwork has a beautiful deep high gloss.
The doorfittings are excellent including the bonnet and the boot.
The chrome has a beautiful shine and is in a superb condition.
Overall exterior wise this Lagonda is absolutely amazing. The looks as well as the condition are fabulous.
The interior is upholstered in a beautiful dark red Connolly leather.
The dashboard as well as the door panels are finished with a beautiful walnut veneer.
The seat position in the car is excellent and give the driver a good view over all the beautiful designed meter, gauges and knobs.
Small details such as the Lagonda brand name in the meters as well as the wind up clock are so impressively nice.
The doorcards even have a lining which comes back in the exterior of the car.
Sitting as a passenger or driving this amazing machine is fantastic. It’s not only the impressive exterior looks of the Lagonda which make the car special. The interior is as impressive as the exterior.
When our photographer came back with the Lagonda we saw a huge smile on his face. Our photographer is driving many different cars but he was impressed. Very impressed.
How is it possible that a 1938 car is driving so extremely well and easy he said…..
And that’s completely right.
The car looks huge and impressive but is very easy to manoeuvre and to handle.
Let’s start at the beginning. Taking a seat in the Lagonda is easy. The door opens widely and the seat position can easily be reached. The ignition has to be switched on and when the 4 carburettors are filled with petrol the start button can be touched.
The engine start immediately and it is absolutely breathtaking how nice the Lagonda V12 is running. The sound is beautiful. The sound can be best described as soft and chique.
The gearbox shifts impressively light and actually the entire car handles impressively light. Even the brakes are very accurate, certainly for a 1938 car.
We can easily conclude, the Lagonda V12 Drophead Coupé is one of the most sophisticated, attractive, and exclusive cars of the pre-war era and this example, with its rarity and well-chronicled provenance, is a very very special car.