Year of manufacture1974
Number of seats2
The London Motor Show
1974 Aston Martin Lagonda Series 1 7.0-Litre Saloon
Registration no. LWB 400
Chassis no. L/12003/RCAC
Engine no. V/540/2003
The Lagonda brand had been moribund for a decade when Aston Martin revived it in 1974 as the model name for a new four-door saloon based on the existing two-door V8. A prototype ('MP/230/1') had been used by AML chairman David Brown in 1969 but the project would not come to fruition until after his departure and Aston Martin's acquisition by Company Developments. Launched at the London Motor Show in October 1974, 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. Priced at £14,040, including Purchase Tax, at the time of its launch, the Lagonda cost 24% more than the contemporary V8 and thus was one very expensive motor car. The first example completed was for Aston Martin's then chairman, William Wilson. Unfortunately, the ongoing Middle East 'oil crisis' and other economic woes meant that the market for a 160-mph luxury saloon had declined sharply.
An exclusive model even by Aston Martin standards, the Lagonda 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. Of the seven cars built in period, five were completed with automatic transmission (like this example) and only two with the ZF five-speed manual gearbox.
'12003' was displayed at the 1974 Earls Court Motor Show where it received the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' Gold Medal for bodywork, and also features in 'Aston Martin - The Complete Car' by Messrs Archer, Cutting, Murray and Williams. Already a powerful car, the Lagonda has been endowed with even greater urge courtesy of an R S Williams 7.0-litre conversion, commissioned by a previous owner, which enables it to more than hold its own when pitted against modern rivals. The Williams conversion places particular emphasis on torque, producing a substantial 550lb/ft and useful 480bhp against the estimated 350lb/ft and 320bhp of the 5.3-litre original.
Testing an RSW-converted 7.0-litre Lagonda for Octane magazine, motoring writer Paul Chudecki found that its truck-like torque was immediately apparent, the car feeling effortless and capable. 'The 7-litre V8 pulls strongly from around 1,500-1,800rpm and from then on it is relentless. Acceleration is not electrifying given the Lagonda's weight - a guess would put the 0-60mph time in the mid five-second bracket with 100mph coming up around ten seconds later - but it is nonetheless impressive all the way up to 145mph, as fast as we could go given the limits of the test track; there is no reason to doubt the car could pull its 6,500rpm limit in top and reach 170mph given the chance.'
In 2002, '12003' was sent to Spray Tec Restorations where it underwent a major refurbishment programme, benefiting from a visit to Bodylines Specialist Panel Beaters who fabricated new 'Oscar India' style wings and boot lid, as well as a later-style bonnet. Any corrosion or rot was dealt with and once this work was complete the car returned to Spray Tec where it received a bare metal re-spray and a complete interior re-trim. The Lagonda was finished to what can only be described as concours standard and since then has been looked after by Works Service, where a major mechanical overhaul was undertaken in 2004. In total, some £175,000 was spent on the Lagonda by the immediately preceding owner.
'12003' is finished in Cumberland Grey with Rolls-Royce Wildberry hide upholstery and burr walnut veneers, while other noteworthy features include a Becker navigation system; up-rated audio system; CD 6-disc auto-changer; heated front seats; remote central locking; reading lights and seat belts to the rear; and a concealed Motorola GSM telephone, complete with handset to the rear centre armrest for the use of rear passengers.
In May 2010, '12003' was offered for sale at Bonhams' auction at Aston Martin Works Service, Newport Pagnell (Lot 332). Its purchaser at that sale was none other than Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd, whose intention it was to display the car alongside its proposed new four-door Lagonda model. In the event, this ambitious project would be cancelled, and '12003' has spent the last five years in professional storage, covering fewer than ten miles in that period. (The current odometer reading is 39,275 miles).
The car will have been gently re-commissioned and MoT'd by Aston Martin Works ready for the sale, and will be displayed for a fortnight at the RAC's headquarters in London's Pall Mall prior to the auction. Presented in wonderful condition, this ultra-rare Lagonda is offered with sundry bills from Richard Williams, Spray Tec, Bodylines and Ian Mason; an original instruction book; various AML service vouchers from the 1980s; a quantity of expired MoT certificates; copies of original registration documents; current MoT; V5C registration document; and a copy of Supercar Classics magazine (November 1990 edition) featuring the car.