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Goodwood Festival of Speed / 1934 Lagonda M45 Rapide T9 Tourer Chassis no. Z11224 Engine no. 45/R/112-2967
£180,000 - £240,000
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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.
A team of three specially prepared short-chassis cars (effectively the soon-to-be-announced M45 Rapide) prepared by Lagonda main agents Fox & Nicholls performed creditably at the 1934 RAC Tourist Trophy at Ards, and the following year one of these TT cars driven by John Hindmarsh and Luis Fontes won the Le Mans 24-Hour endurance classic outright. Endowed with such an impeccable pedigree, the Lagonda 4½-Litre quickly established itself as a favourite among the wealthy sporting motorists of its day - World Land Speed Record holder Sir Malcolm Campbell was one many high-profile M45 owners - and 70-plus years on this model, and the M45 Rapide in particular, only 53 of which were built, remains a much sought after classic.
The M45 Rapide offered here was almost certainly bodied by coachbuilders E D Abbott Limited of Farnham, Surrey, which in 1934 had received a major contract from Lagonda to provide 'factory' bodywork. The vendor's late father purchased the Lagonda, which was in a derelict state, for £80 in October 1959 from Reginald Woodhead, landlord of the White Hart Inn at Lydgate near Oldham, Lancashire. It is understood that the car had been ordered at the 1934 London Motor Show by a Mr Barraclough as a present for his son, Brian. A Frazer Nash was purchased at the same time for Mr Barraclough Senior's daughter. Mr Barraclough Senior was proprietor of a wallpaper manufacturing business in the Manchester area and had recently diversified into making roofing felt, which had proved a very successful venture.
The list price of the standard M45 Rapide Tourer was £1,000 at a time when the average UK house price was a little over £600. However, the car may have cost more, as a number of non-standard extras were specified: additional instrumentation requiring the special sheet-aluminium dashboard; twin emergency reserve fuel cans in the rear passenger foot-well; special wooden tray with extensive tool kit to the rear of the engine compartment; and wire mesh stone-guards to the four front lights and radiator.
The Lagonda was delivered and first registered on 22nd March 1935 to Mr Brian Barraclough, a solicitor in the firm Ponsonby's of Clegg Street, Oldham. The car was used mainly for fishing trips in Scotland, sometimes towing a huge caravan. Following Mr Barraclough's untimely death, his family gave the Lagonda to one of his friends, the aforementioned Reginald Woodhead. Regrettably, the car was left in the open where it quickly deteriorated. Nevertheless, it appears to have been used regularly, as frequent periods of three months' road tax during 1958/59 are recorded in its last logbook.
After the vendor's father purchased the car in 1959, it was completely stripped down to the last nut and bolt. The chassis, axles, gearbox and braking system were restored and reassembled, and then time, money and enthusiasm evaporated. Although disposing of the car as a part-finished project, or scrapping it, was considered, it moved with its owner to various addresses. In May 1986, it was decided that something must be done, and work was recommenced on a part-time basis. By May 2000, the car had passed its first MoT inspection and was re-taxed. Although many parts, such as the trim, had deteriorated beyond restoration, all had been kept as patterns and evidence of the original specification, together with photographs supplied by Brian Barraclough's son. Much of the work was entrusted to specialists: Alan Brown of Delph near Oldham (engine rebuild); Paul Naylor of Delph (aluminium bodywork); John Hargreaves of Delph (cellulose paintwork); Mike at V.A.S. Auto Trim, Wakefield (interior trim); and Patrick Henry of Ludham, Norfolk (instrument reconditioning). All other work was carried out by the vendor's father with the aid and advice of many friends. The total cost of the work from 1959 to May 2000 was approximately £20,500. Since completion the Lagonda has been maintained by Macdonald Racing Ltd, with engine work carried out in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
In addition to the aforementioned old logbook, the car comes with the 1959 bill of sale; a large file of history/bills into the 1960s; all bills and correspondence from 1959 onwards for the initial restoration (organised in sections – clutch, brakes, electrics, instruments, shock absorbers, paint, etc); and another file of service work, etc containing all bills and correspondence relating to the restoration's resumption and completion. The car also comes with an original instruction book; a copy of Autocar's road test report; and a V5C Registration Certificate.