The Earls Court Motor Show 1975 Aston Martin Lagonda Series 1 7.0-Litre Saloon Registration no. LJF 502P Chassis no. L/12006/RCAC Engine no. V/540/2006
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. It is said that the project was born out of Aston Martin owner David Brown's desire to be chauffeur driven in a car of his own manufacture. A prototype ('MP/230/1') was used by 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. Displayed at the 1975 Earls Court Motor Show, '12006' is the sixth of the seven Series 1 cars built. Renowned Aston Martin specialist Richard Williams was already the owner of a concours-winning Series 1 when he acquired this car around 6-7 years ago. '12006' was rather tired, but parking it next to his own car enabled Richard Williams to convince the titled owner of its potential. In January 2006 RSW commenced the rebuild of '12006' to the same internal and mechanical specification and colour scheme as Richard Williams' own example, the car to be ready by Christmas 2006. It was agreed that the total restoration would include many detail changes of specification to meet the owner's personal requirements while remaining faithful to the spirit of the original, the intention being to upgrade the Lagonda to make it more practical for modern everyday motoring. The chassis was stripped, checked, crack tested and rebuilt with new bushes and suspension components including up-rated steering, special springs, dampers and brakes. Already a powerful car, the Lagonda has been endowed with even greater urge courtesy of R S Williams' 7.0-litre conversion, 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.' The 7.0-litre engine drives the Torqueflite automatic gearbox via a re-engineered torque converter while the drive train - prop shaft, differential gearing, etc - is new. Other components/systems redesigned or upgraded include the fuel delivery, exhaust, battery, charging and engine cooling, the latter incorporating a high-specification alloy water radiator complete with twin fans. Much time and expertise was expended in assessing ride quality and road, engine and wind noise with the result that every component affecting this has been either refurbished or re-engineered. Measures taken include extensive engine bay heat and noise insulation and special airbox and air filter materials to reduce intake roar. Exhaust noise has received attention as well and even the window glass and its fittings have been newly manufactured to reduce wind noise. The interior, while retaining as much of the original as possible, has been reconfigured to meet the owner's individual requirements. Modern conveniences essential for today's motoring and tastefully incorporated in the wooden dashboard include a hands-free mobile 'phone integrated with the CD and radio so that they cut out when it is in use. Heater controls of a later and more easily operated design have been fitted and the air conditioning unit upgraded so that it is now an efficient climate control system. As one would expect, the interior has been re-trimmed to the highest standard and now features central armrests front and rear. The front seats have multi-way electric adjustment while the rears have been lowered slightly to create more headroom, which combined with ample legroom makes this an exceptionally comfortable four-seater. Indeed, the interior is the largest of any Aston Martin. This car also has remote central locking and an adjustable tilt steering wheel, while 'puddle' lights are cleverly concealed beneath the door armrests. Outwardly, '12006' looks the same as it did at Earls Court in 1975 with the exception of the slightly deeper front spoiler from the V8 'PoW' model and tasteful modern driving lights. The Anthracite Grey paintwork is perfectly complemented by the subtle grey hide interior and carpets. In 2007 '12006' was tested for AM Magazine by John Gross, who found that this extensively improved car 'retains everything we all love about Astons and Lagondas - style, performance, engineering and luxury - it just does it better. We were able to exercise the car over the best and worst of Surrey's roads, turning knowledgeable heads, driving hard and looking for flaws... there aren't any.' Completed and MoT'd on 19th December 2006, the Lagonda has been back to RSW for annual checks and regular maintenance/servicing, the most recent in January 2012 when it was also MoT'd. Only some 3,200 miles have been covered in the past five years and '12006' remains in superb condition. Representing an exciting opportunity to acquire an extensively upgraded example of one of the rarest and most exclusive of post-war Aston Martins, the car is offered with restoration photographs, MoT to January 2013 and Swansea V5C document.