The ex-Bidwell-Topham, Nick Mason 1934 Lagonda M45 Tourer Coachwork by Vanden Plas Registration no. AYP 267 Chassis no. 210875 Engine no. 22623
'Lagonda cars have always upheld a reputation for effortless fast touring and the pride of ownership which fine detail work and distinguished coachbuilding can give. The 4½-Litre model retains these characteristics, but scores considerably over its forebears by its high power-to-weight ratio. The chassis is no bigger than the three litre car, and there is no suggestion of clumsiness, heavy steering or the other drawbacks which often accompany the large engined car.' - Motor Sport, January 1934. The Lagonda car company was founded in 1906 in Staines, Middlesex by the American Wilbur Gunn (1859-1920) who named it after a river near his home town of Springfield, Ohio. Gunn had started out building motorcycles in the garden of his house in Staines with some success, including winning the 1905 London to Edinburgh Trial. In 1907 he launched his first car and in 1910 won the Moscow to St Petersburg Trial driving a 16/18hp model. Having established its reputation, Lagonda concentrated mainly on the production of light cars before reverting to sporting and luxury models in the mid-1920s with the introduction of the 14/60. This four-cylinder, 2.0-litre model was joined in 1929 by the first of Lagonda's own sixes - the 3-Litre - but by the mid-1930s the Meadows-engined cars were seen as the way forward. Introduced at the 1933 Olympia Show and based on the preceding ZM 3-Litre model, the M45 deployed Meadows' 4½-litre, twin-plug six to good effect, saloons being capable of reaching 90mph and tourers 'the ton' under favourable conditions. 'A short run on one of the first of the 4½-Litre Lagonda models, with an open four-seater body, left a vivid impression not only of brilliant acceleration and sheer performance, but of a car delightfully silent and easy running in a way that can be achieved to the fullest extent only by a big-engined machine working well inside its limits,' reported The Autocar in 1933. As the foregoing contemporary quote clearly demonstrates, these exceptionally handsome big-engined Lagondas created a considerable impression when new, and here we offer a fine example of this elegant and very British post-Vintage thoroughbred. Chassis number '210875' comes with a copy of Vanden Plas's invoice to Messrs Duff Morgan & Co Ltd of Old Inn Garage, London SW3 for the construction of its aluminium panelled four-seater sports coachwork. Purchased by the current vendor at Brooks' Earls Court Sale in October 1991 (Lot 74), the car is believed to have had only five owners from new, including the well-known Topham family of Aintree racecourse fame and prominent collector Nick Mason. A lady friend of the original owner - a Mr Ralph Calvert - recognised 'AYP 267' in a feature piece in 'The Times' newspaper that year and recalled how he had bought 10,000 shares upon the launch of a new national newspaper, sold them within a week as they had gained a shilling each in value, and promptly invested the profit in ordering this Lagonda. She also supplied the preceding owner with some charming contemporary photographs of the car, together with the Vanden Plas specification sheets relating to it. In correspondence on file she remembers being taken to all the best restaurants in the car during the 1930s, the heyday of this splendid and extremely evocative gentleman's touring car. 'AYP 267' has been much improved since acquisition by the current vendor; the engine, gearbox, steering, etc being completely rebuilt with all new bearings and other parts by Classic Restorations (Scotland) Ltd of Alyth, Perthshire between mid-1998 and early 2000 (invoices available). By then the vendor had moved to France, where the car was stored until he returned to Scotland in 2006, since when it has been MoT'd annually. Only some 1,000-or-so miles have been covered since restoration, while recent work has included overhauling the BTH magneto and fitting new tyres. Having enjoyed the Lagonda for the past 20 years, the vendor is returning to France permanently and feels that the time has come to pass it on to a fortunate new owner. He describes it as mechanically rebuilt and in wonderful original condition thanks to good care, minimal use and the rust-free aluminium body. This exceptionally attractive post-Vintage thoroughbred is offered with current road fund licence, MoT to August 2011, Swansea V5C document, the aforementioned correspondence and full history including the original purchase invoice.