Ex - Sir David Brown 1969 Aston Martin Lagonda 4-Door Prototype Registration no. JPP 5G Chassis no. MP/230/1 Engine no. V/540/008/EE
This unique and well-known Lagonda was created in 1969 as the prototype for a new four-door saloon based on the existing two-door DBS V8. It represented the first use of the Lagonda name since the demise of the Lagonda Rapide in 1964. A four-door DBS variant had been envisioned back in October 1966 when the project had first been proposed to Aston Martin chairman, Sir David Brown. The new Lagonda was 305mm (12") longer in the wheelbase than the two-door V8 whose engine and running gear it shared and to which it bore an understandably strong resemblance, both cars being the work of stylist William Towns. Unlike the seven production models that followed later, which had only two headlamps, 'MP/230/1' featured a four-headlamp front end identical to that of the contemporary two-door DBS V8. Also unique is the boot arrangement, the lid being combined with the between-the-lights vertical panel for easier loading of heavy objects.
After completion, 'MP/230/1' was reserved for the personal use of Sir David Brown but the project would not come to fruition until after his departure and Aston Martin's acquisition by Company Developments. Priced at £14,040, including Purchase Tax, at the time of its launch in 1974, the Lagonda cost 24% more than the contemporary V8 and thus was one very expensive motor car. An exclusive model even by Aston Martin standards, it was catalogued until June 1976, by which time only seven had been made. Chassis numbers ranged from '12001' to '12007', while a further example - chassis '12008' - was sanctioned at a later date.
Dudley Gershon's book 'Aston Martin 1963-1972' contains a wealth of information about this Lagonda. Gershon was the engineering director at Newport Pagnell at the time and was personally responsible for the Lagonda's development. Copies of the relevant extracts from the book are contained within the car's file. The Lagonda was announced by press release with photographs in January 1970. Copies are included in the car's file together with a copy of the article published in the May 1970 edition of 'Road & Track'.
An interesting anecdote in Gershon's book concerns the disagreement within the factory over whether the car should be badged as an Aston Martin or a Lagonda. Gershon confesses that only an hour before the press and distributors were to view the car he took the decision to badge it as a Lagonda, ignoring a written instruction he had just received from on high to badge it as an Aston. The decision to resurrect the Lagonda name was much praised at the viewing and the badges remained.
The car was originally finished in Sir David Brown's favoured colour of Roman Purple with seats and door cards in crimson velour, creating something of an 'Odeon Cinema' look. The V8 power plant was too much for the original wire wheels, which were soon replaced with GKN alloys, while the velour interior was replaced with blue hide and the coachwork refinished in blue metallic. Originally the car was fitted with a prototype 5.0-litre fuel-injected V8 engine but the factory quickly changed this for a very early production 5.3-litre four-carburettor unit, which remains in the car today.
The Lagonda was a personal favourite of Sir David Brown and in the early 1970s it was a familiar sight in and around Newport Pagnell, usually with Sir David in the back and his faithful chauffeur, George, at the wheel. Included with the file is a transcript of a 1970 interview with Sir David Brown where he discusses his current wheels: this Lagonda prototype.
The Lagonda remained with the factory until it was sold to Peter Biggs after Sir David Brown's departure in 1972. Peter Biggs retained the car for the next 36 years, selling it in 2010 to the current owner, an Aston Martin collector. In 2011 the Lagonda featured in 'Classic & Sportscar' magazine (April edition).
A distinguishing feature of the Lagonda prototype is that is remains to original specification and has not been updated like some of the production cars. The body and paintwork are very good, with no dents and even panel gaps, while the leather interior is excellent and free from damage. Marque specialists Desmond Smail Ltd have gone through the car thoroughly to ensure it is in top mechanical condition (see bill for £13,725 on file). The car has also had an engine bay restoration and looks in top condition under the bonnet. We are advised that it runs sweetly and is free from faults, and currently shows a mileage reading of approximately 14,000, which is believed to be correct.
Currently MoT'd, the car comes with V5C registration document the aforementioned history file containing the buff logbook, old-style V5, SORN paperwork, sundry service/maintenance invoices and a substantial quantity of expired MoT certificates and old tax discs. The four-door Lagondas are rare cars; this one, however, is very much more special.