1962 Aston Martin Lagonda Rapide Sports Saloon Registration no. 572 UYE Chassis no. LR/108/R Engine no. 400/108
'It has long been my ambition to produce a car which would be equally suitable to drive or to be driven in, great comfort, large luggage carrying capacity yet still be exhilarating to the owner driver and capable of effortless sustained high performance. There is such similarity between modern cars that one is fearful of the day when all will look, and be, alike.' - David Brown on the Lagonda Rapide.
Aston Martin revived the famous Lagonda name in 1961 with a luxurious four-door sports saloon the Rapide that took its appellation from one of the marque's most exalted models of the late 1930s. It has been David Brown's intention that the Rapide should be the 'most mechanically advanced car available', offering effortless acceleration to 130mph. Beneath the Rapide's Superleggera aluminium coachwork (by Touring of Milan, the carrozzeria responsible for the Aston Martin DB4 sports car) was a lengthened (by 16") DB4 platform-type chassis reconfigured to accept De Dion rear suspension, the adoption of which allowed rear compartment space to be maximised. Powered by a 4.0-litre (236bhp) version of the Aston Martin DB4's twin-cam 'six' that would later power the DB5, the Rapide certainly lived up to its name with brisk acceleration and a 130mph-plus top speed. Dual circuit, servo assisted disc brakes restrained this excellent performance while fittings to the traditional 'gentlemen's club' interior included electric windows, picnic tables to the rear, filler cap remote opener and a radio as standard. The Rapide's price when new was £5,000, some 25 percent higher than that of the Aston Martin DB4, which itself was not exactly a cheap automobile. A mere 55 units, almost all of which were equipped with Borg Warner three-speed automatic transmission, were built before production ceased in 1964.
Today, only 47 of the original 55 Rapides are known of, 'LR108R' being the 7th built. The car was sold new via Blakes of Liverpool to company director J P Dixon in 1962. When ordering his Lagonda, Mr Dixon made a special request for a manual gearbox to be fitted - despite AML trying to talk him out of it - making this car rare, while it is also the only Rapide painted by the factory in classic Snow Shadow Grey, again at the original owner's request.
'LR108R' had recorded 25,000 miles up to 1972 and the odometer shows only 36,000 miles today, which is supported by its complete and extensive history file. It was owned during the mid-1970s by Robin Hamilton, Aston Martin dealer and Le Mans driver, who is one of only four previous owners. From 1989 to 2010 the car was laid up, after which it was re-commissioned and returned to the fine condition it is in today. Retaining its original engine and DB manual gearbox, 'LR108R' has been sensitively maintained and its originality respected, with almost every mechanical element being professionally rebuilt/repaired as needed. It also benefits from stainless steel bumpers (copied by hand from the originals), stainless steel exhaust, refurbished braking system, new radiator and refurbished fuel tanks. The two Solex PHH 44 carburettors have been rebuilt, a new SU dual fuel pump installed and the head checked, and new seals and rubbers fitted throughout. New Wilton carpet has been hand copied from the original and repairs made to the interior as needed. The Lagonda is currently taxed and MoT'd and everything works as it should, while the only modernising modifications are an additional (discrete) cooling fan and integrated wiring for a modern stereo (if required). Accompanying paperwork consist of an old-style logbook, copy guarantee form, sundry restoration invoices, V5C registration document and the aforementioned history file.
Its provenance, unusual specification, low mileage and originality make 'LR108R' an extremely good example of this rare and wonderful car - a model which was the personal project of David Brown himself.