1976 Lagonda V8 Series 1 Four-Door Saloon Registration no. ORO 882P Chassis no. L/12007/RCAC Engine no. V/540/2007
The Lagonda brand had been dormant for a decade when Aston Martin revived it in 1974 as the model name for a new sensational 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 Martins 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 was thus one of the most expensive motor cars in period. An exclusive model even by Aston Martin standards, it was catalogued until June 1976, by which time a mere seven had been made. Chassis numbers ranged from 12001 to 12007, while a further example - chassis 12008 - was built independently at a later date. Of the seven factory cars built in period, only two were completed with the ZF five-speed manual gearbox, 12007, the car offered here, was one of them.
007 has been extensively re-engineered and enhanced by respected marque specialists R S Williams Ltd for their client, the chairman of a London based company, and post-completion was featured in Octane magazine (Issue 7, 2004). It was bought specifically as the company flagship, Richard Williams told Octane. They were losing money supporting a new Bentley each year - depreciation was nearly £1,000 a week. The chairman was already an Aston owner and fan; he saw my Lagonda and decided he wanted one. So we located one and rebuilt it to his specification. It was very original and a dear old car. The chairman had to be very patient and wait a year for the project to be completed, the work having taken two people over 4,000 hours at an estimated cost of around £100,000.
Suitably and sympathetically modified for everyday use, the Lagonda incorporates the electronic communications systems required by todays business user; nevertheless, retaining originality was always an intention and all the modifications are reversible. A combined SatNav/DVD/TV display screen is installed just forward of the gearlever, popping up at the press of a finger, with a matching screen on the transmission tunnel for those in the back. Naturally, there is an integrated telephone system front and rear and a very expensive, state-of-the-art, four-speaker, Alpine CD stereo system with boot-mounted changer. A few other minor changes, mainly the repositioning of switches, were made to the already opulent interior, which has been re-trimmed in elephant grey hide from Italy and boasts the tilt-adjustable steering column, as fitted to later V8s, in addition to remote central locking and an upgraded air-conditioning system. To cope with the increased electrical load a high-output alternator and dual battery pack with automatic changeover have been installed.
Already a powerful car, the Lagonda has been endowed with even greater urge courtesy of an R S Williams 7-litre conversion, enabling 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, increases that more than offset the weight gain associated with all the Lagondas extra equipment. This in turn necessitated up-rating the Chrysler Torqueflite automatic transmission, which has replaced the original ZF manual box, and strengthening the differential mountings to prevent twisting under load. Engine cooling has been improved by increasing water flow around the engine and paying special attention to under-bonnet ducting.
Octanes tester, motoring writer Paul Chudecki, found that the Lagondas enormous 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, a guess would put the 0-60mph time in the mid five-second bracket with 100mph coming up around ten seconds later - 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. Add to that levels of ride, handling and general comfort which will be more than acceptable to all who might conduct business within, and you have a prestige car that makes a subtle but singularly significant statement.
Externally, the Lagonda looks original apart from the Kamm tail as fitted to later Aston V8s (an aesthetic and aerodynamic improvement), and Cibie driving lamps where originally there were horizontal radiator slats. A lot of effort went into controlling wind noise, with attention to detail around the gutter area and it makes a big difference, Richard Williams told Octane, which reckoned that this particular car was a massive improvement over standard Lagondas and Aston V8s in that respect.
Octanes Paul Chudecki summed up the cars appeal succinctly: This lovely Lagonda is a very individual machine, a suitably low-key supercar you wont find in even the most prestigious of company car parks where Bentleys are commonplace.
Presented in generally superb condition, 12007 is offered with V5 registration document, current MoT, sundry Works Service invoices dating from the 1980s and a quantity of R S Williams bills dating from 2000 onwards.