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The Audrain Concours Auction / 1935 Lagonda Rapier Sports Special Chassis no. D11419 Engine no. D3150

Lot 113
1935 Lagonda Rapier Sports Special
30 September 2022, 16:00 EDT
Newport, Rhode Island, International Tennis Hall of Fame

US$150,000 - US$200,000

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1935 Lagonda Rapier Sports Special
Chassis no. D11419
Engine no. D3150

1,104cc Supercharged DOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
110bhp at 5,000rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Front and Rear Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes

*Charismatic and capable vintage Sports Special with phenomenal power-to-weight ratio
*Extensive restoration performed including engine rebuild by Phil Reilly & Co
*Very advanced DOHC supercharged engine, eligible for a host of international rallies and tours
*Offered with extensive restoration and maintenance file


Lagonda returned, briefly, to the manufacture of light cars in 1934 with the introduction of the Rapier, which was heralded by The Autocar as 'a thoroughly worthwhile newcomer among small sports-type cars'. Tim Ashcroft's design had been on the drawing board for almost a year before it appeared in prototype form at the 1933 Olympia Motor Exhibition. In production from the late Spring of 1934, the Rapier was reminiscent of a baby 2-Liter in appearance and was most often seen with four-seat tourer coachwork by Abbott. The car's most notable feature was its gem of an engine; a four-cylinder, twin-overhead-camshaft unit built to Lagonda's design by Coventry Climax Ltd and displacing 1,104cc. It produced 45bhp on twin SU carburetors. A sturdy chassis frame, ENV four-speed pre-selector transmission and 13" diameter Girling brakes completed the mechanical picture. For its engine size, the Rapier was in a class of its own. Revving comfortably to 5,500rpm the motor allowed for impressive acceleration figures and a top speed of around 75mph.

With such a specification, the model was consequently expensive to produce. Sales were disappointing, and in 1935, the company was sold to Alan P. Good. Later, Mr. Good managed to persuade W.O. Bentley to leave Rolls Royce and join Lagonda. Having never liked smaller displacement engines, W.O. convinced Mr. Good to sell the manufacturing rights for the Rapier to Napier and Sons of Hammersmith. They formed Rapier Cars Ltd. and continued to manufacture these cars until 1938.


This sporting Lagonda Rapier left the Lagonda works in early 1935, and, according to original records, it was recorded to have been fitted with a closed Coupe body by Abbott. The early history of this car remains unknown until 1951 when it was owned by a founding member of the Rapier Registry. At that time, it wore a two-seater tourer body. It passed on to a David Miller in Hertfordshire, England in 1980 and was raced extensively in Vintage Sports Car Club events between 1986 and 1991, competing at Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Castle Coombe, and a large number of hill climbs. After several seasons of racing, the Rapier was retired before undergoing a total restoration with Lagonda specialist Bishopgray of Berkshire in 2005. An extensive number of invoices from this restoration are on file.

New alloy boat tail bodywork was fabricated in the style of Brooklands racer with twin folding aero screens while the engine was specially prepared and equipped with a supercharger providing over 110hp, more than double its standard power output. Every aspect of the car was restored, including the chassis, bodywork, upholstery, wiring and lights, dashboard and instruments, wheels and tires, engine, transmission, suspension, and brakes. The cost totaling well-over $200,000.00. The was painted black with St. James red leather upholstery, and following restoration, the car was imported to California in 2011, where it participated in the 2012 California Mille.

In 2013 following the California Mille, the engine was rebuilt in its entirety by Phil Reilly & Co. with considerable engineering performed to enhance the reliability and functionality of the engine including a reworked oiling system, rebuilt oil and water pumps, and new camshafts. The engine was broken in on the dyno and tuned for optimum power. The rear axle was also resealed at the outboard ends and the rear brakes relined. The suspension was serviced and rebuilt as necessary, and the gearbox resealed. The brakes were adjusted all round and the distributor was also rebuilt. The remainder of the car was gone through thoroughly with various servicing required as needed, where needed. The cost for all was approximately $57,000.00, the result, a wonderful, reliable and sporting prewar sportscar.

The Lagonda Rapier was used and enjoyed in this ownership for several years prior to being acquired by a well-known Long Island, NY collector. For the past several years, this Rapier has enjoyed touring The Hamptons in the Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons. Today, this sporting Lagonda Rapier Special presents in wonderful condition. Anyone who has ever driven one will tell you that they are a delightful driving experience. The agile twin cam engine provides ample power, and a very seductive growl whenever one depresses the throttle. Eligible for some of the world's most exclusive events, the Rapier is comparable in experience to various other prewar sportscars racers from Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Bugatti, just to name a few, for a fraction of the cost.

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