Founded by ex-patriot American Wilbur Gunn in 1898, Lagonda built successful motorcycles and forecars before venturing into motor manufacture proper in the early years of the 20th Century. Having established its reputation by winning the Moscow - St Petersburg Reliability Trial of 1910 with a 30hp six, the Staines-based firm concentrated mainly on the production of light cars before reverting to sporting and luxury models in the mid-1920s. This change of direction was signalled by the introduction of the '14/60' model in 1925. A lighter, more powerful and faster (80mph) 2-Litre Speed Model was introduced for 1927, after which the '14/60' was dropped.
Davidson was less adventurous when asked to come up with a larger, six-cylinder engine for the new '16/65' model. Originally of 2,692cc, the seven-bearing overhead-valve unit was enlarged to 2,931cc (and later to 3,181cc) to create the 3-Litre model of 1928, finally being stretched to 3,619cc for the short-lived 3½-Litre in 1934, by which time the Meadows-engined cars were seen as the way forward. The '16/65' and early 3-Litre models, many of which were bodied by Lagonda using the Weymann system of flexibly framed, fabric covered coachwork, were intended for the carriage trade. From 1929 onwards though, the model was available in sporting 'low chassis' form, this new frame having resulted from the company's racing experience.
Testing a Lagonda 3-Litre in 1929, The Motor reckoned it was 'difficult to imagine a car nearer an ideal than one which combines the full performance of a speed model with the top gear performance of the best modern touring car.' The 3-litre was, indeed, exceptionally flexible, being able to accelerate from 5mph to its maximum of around 80mph in top gear. Motor Sport summed up the 3-Litre Lagonda as 'a very pleasant car of very high quality, and possessing that indefinable but very definite character which stamps the thoroughbred in every walk of life' sentiments with which we can only concur.
Nothing is known of the early history of this Lagonda 3-Litre, which was first registered in London. The earliest ownership record on file is an old-style continuation logbook (issued December 1960) listing one Arthur William Taylor of London E8 as owner from February 1959. The last owner listed is Capt M J Hollinshead of Stapeley, Cheshire, who had bought the Lagonda for £320 from the previous owner listed Peter Hennell of Welwyn Garden City in May 1966 (purchase receipt on file).
It would appear that Capt Hollinshead was still the owner when the Lagonda was sold at auction together with a number of other 'barn find' cars in October 2003 (see copy of The Automobile on file). It was reported at that time that the vehicles had been in storage since the mid-1960s. The current vendor purchased the car at the October 2003 auction. 'GO 5483' was subsequently restored and fitted with a new Geoff Henderson-built replica T3 body during the rebuild and re-upholstered (see photographs on file). Other than the new body, the car was kept as original as possible. It was very much a conscious decision to not over-restore the car and to preserve its character, hence most of the brightwork is original. The engine ran well and it was decided, following specialist advice, to treat it with a ceramic sealant as there were some very slight cracks visible on the outside of the block. We are advised that the rev counter needs to be coupled up and that the sender in the fuel tank has never been connected/repaired. The pedals have been altered to accommodate the current owner's stature.
Since completion the Lagonda has seen very little use, other than successfully finishing two Beamish Reliability Runs, and is described as in generally good condition. The car is offered with current road fund licence and Swansea V5C document. The accompanying substantial history file contains assorted previous-owner correspondence; various restoration photographs; SORN paperwork; a quantity of old MoTs (most recent expired July 2013); Lagonda Club parts list; and copies of period road tests, an instruction book and other technical literature.