Head of Department
£75,000 - £80,000
Submit your item online for a free auction estimate.How to sell
Our Collector Cars specialists can help you find a similar item at an auction or via a private sale.Find your local specialist
Head of Department
The Lagonda Motor Company was founded in 1906 in Staines, Middlesex by the American Wilbur Gunn (1859-1920), a former opera singer who named it after a river near his hometown of Springfield, Ohio. Gunn had started out building motorcycles in the greenhouse at his home in Staines with some success. He later added tricars to the line-up, one of which, driven by Gunn, won the 1905 London to Edinburgh Trial. Single-cylinder tricars were offered at first, followed by others powered by v-twin engines, the first (single-cylinder) three-wheeler being delivered in December 1903. After some teething troubles had been sorted out and improvements made, the Lagonda tricar was ready for its public debut and was the subject of an illustrated article in the 5th April 1904 edition of The Motor Cycle.
Bearing a strong family resemblance to Lagonda's motorcycles, the first tricar was powered by a single-cylinder air-cooled engine rated at 5hp, which was carried in a simple tubular steel frame. There was two-stage chain transmission and a two-speed sliding-pinion gearbox. Somewhat unusually, the engines were of Lagonda's own manufacture; indeed, virtually the entire machine was made in house. Lagonda's first twin-cylinder tricar had been completed in January 1905. The engine was an inlet-over-exhaust 45-degree v-twin of 1,220cc capacity, and the model was referred to in the motorcycling press as of 12hp (actually 10hp by the RAC rating). The gearbox now had three speeds. Lagonda's advertising made much of the London-Edinburgh victory, pointing out that top gear had been used throughout with the exception of one hill. Wilbur Gunn was a most enthusiastic competitor, taking part in events of all sorts to demonstrate his products' qualities, and at the end of July his tricar was one of only seven machines that had covered the full distance at the end of the Motor Cycling Club's 24-hour Trial. Even greater achievements were to come, and in June 1906 Gunn's Lagonda tricar won its class in the ACC's Land's End to John o'Groats Trial.
Lagonda had stopped making motorcycles in 1905 while continuing to develop the tricars, which in 1906 adopted wheel steering, replacing the previous handlebars, while water cooling for the engine was offered as an option (standardised from 1907). However, there were few customers for the tricars during wintertime, and they were being increasingly challenged in the market place by 'proper' small cars. Lagonda discontinued the tricar in 1908 after 69 had been made, their successor being a four-wheeled light car.
Only three tricars are known to exist, and this example is believed to be the oldest known Lagonda. Dated as 1904 by the VCC Dating Committee under Sammy Davis, it is considered a prototype or pre-production model and is the only Lagonda that can participate in the London-Brighton Run. The machine was discovered and purchased in 1935 by the Southall twins and in 1936 was entered by Philip Southall in its first London-Brighton Run. Stephen Southall used the Lagonda until he was 90 years of age. Subsequently the Lagonda was borrowed by the current vendor and finally purchased by him in 2004.
The tricar has been restored twice: once in 1936 and again in the 1990s, on the latter occasion by Lagonda. The only notified deviation from factory specification is an Amal carburettor. Since acquisition by the vendor this historic machine has been used on VCC, VSCC, VMCC, and SMCC events in the UK, Ireland and Europe, and has completed both the London-Brighton Veteran Car Run and Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club Pioneer Run on many occasions.
This Lot is available to view at 101 New Bond Street from Friday 28th October to Friday 4th November during normal business hours