1938 Lagonda V12 Drophead Coupé Coachwork by Lagonda Registration no. to be advised Chassis no. 14046 Engine no. 16069
'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. 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. Not only that, but the magnificent, 4.5-litre, V12 engine produced sufficient torque to endow the car with a walking-pace-to-maximum capability in top gear. For Lagonda, the year 1935 had brought with it bankruptcy and rescue, its benefactor being a young solicitor named Alan Good. Good reorganised the company and recruited W O Bentley, by then disillusioned with life at Rolls-Royce, which had acquired Bentley in 1931. Bentley succeeded in refining the muscular, Meadows-engined Lagondas while working on a vastly more-advanced design that many consider the great man's finest. First seen in 1936, the Lagonda V12 did not commence deliveries until 1938 and only 189 had been built before the coming of WW2 ended production. The advanced chassis employed double-wishbone independent front suspension and was available with a varied choice of coachwork, including limousine. Frank Feeley, stylist of Aston Martin's post-war 'DB' cars, was responsible for the elegant factory bodywork. As usual, the short-chassis Rapide roadster provided even more performance. The V12's announcement demonstrated that the revitalised company was very much back in business, an impression Lagonda's decision to enter the 1939 Le Mans 24-Hour Race can only have enhanced. The marque already possessed a creditable Le Mans record, a short-chassis 4½-Litre driven by John Hindmarsh and Luis Fontes having won the endurance classic outright in 1935. In October 1938 a Lagonda V12 saloon driven by Earl Howe had covered 101.5 miles at Brooklands in a single hour, despite having to stop to change a burst tyre, and this together with other high-speed tests, during which the car had shown complete reliability, indicated that it would be a highly suitable candidate for reviving British prestige at Le Mans. Accordingly, it was decided to enter a two-car team in 1939 with the aim of securing valuable data, and then to mount a full-strength challenge the following year. In the race the two streamlined two-seater Lagondas fared better than expected, Messrs Brackenbury and Dobson finishing in third place with Lords Selsdon and Waleran fourth. Had a less conservative race strategy been employed, then either might have won. The rare Lagonda V12 drophead coupé offered here was sold new in 1938 to Mr H L Quartermaine, of 9 Princes Gate Court, London SW7 and first registered on 30th July that same year. Lagonda Club correspondence on file reveals that the car was in Switzerland in 1973 and that it was subsequently acquired by the legendary Schlumpf Collection in Molsheim, France. In March 1976 Schlumpf offered the car for sale at auction and it was bought by a Monsieur Seiler, of Délémont, Switzerland. There are numerous bills on file from Swiss specialists dating from the 1970s/80s together with a logbook belonging to Seiler recording mileage and use from purchase to 1981. It is believed that he kept the car until the mid-1980s. In 1992 the Lagonda was purchased for 730,000FR ($150,000) from Musée De L'Automobile, Muriaux by Jacques Harguindeguy of Walnut Creek, California, USA. The car was restored in the USA (see numerous photographs on file) and then sold to Dennis Gibbs, of Castro Valley, CA in 2006 for $135,000. By this time '14046' had been fitted with the engine from '16069', though when the transplant was carried out is not known. The Lagonda was purchased by the vendor/restorer in the USA and shipped to the UK for further restoration earlier this year. Work carried out has included stripping, examining and reassembling the engine, which was found to be in good condition; rewiring the electrics; stripping and repainting the bodywork; re-plating the brightwork; refurbishing all decorative woodwork; interior re-trim in leather; overhauling the brakes and radiator; and fitting new carpets, exhaust system and hood. This fine example of W O Bentley's vision of the best car in the world is offered with current road fund licence, MoT to August 2011, Swansea V5C document and a most substantial file of history containing numerous Lagonda Club Newsletters, copy magazine articles and copy sales brochures.