Period factory conversion to manual specification
1963 Lagonda Rapide Sports Sedan
Formerly UK Registered 241 EXN
Chassis No. LR/121/R
Engine No. LR 400/117 (believed period factory change)
Aston Martin revived the dormant Lagonda name in 1961 with the luxurious Rapide four-door saloon, a car that was very much David Brown's personal project. The Rapide's sales brochure, which, unusually, was signed by him personally, stated: 'It has long been my ambition to build a car which would be equally suitable to drive or be driven in...'.
It was a name that in its previous iteration had represented a supremely elegant 1930s sporting four seater, and the new car comfortably achieved those characteristics by using external rather than in house design and drawing its styling cues from the same source as the DB4. Beneath the Superleggera aluminium coachwork by Touring of Milan was a lengthened DB4 chassis reconfigured by Harold Beach to accept De Dion rear suspension, the adoption of which allowed rear compartment space to be maximised. Powered by a 4.0-litre (236bhp) version of the DB4's twin-cam six that would later power the DB5, the Rapide certainly lived up to its name with brisk acceleration and a 130mph-plus top speed. Dual circuit, servo assisted disc brakes restrained this excellent performance, while interior fittings included electric windows, picnic tables to the rear, filler cap remote opening, and radio as standard. Just 55 units, almost all of which were equipped with Borg Warner three-speed automatic transmission, were built before production ceased in 1964.
This car's history is known from day one, thanks to the existence of its factory build sheet, a copy of which is on file. This notes that the car was sold through agent Brooklands to Babcock and Wilcox Ltd. of Euston Road, London. It was registered as '241 EXN' and was finished then as now in Midnight blue livery with a deep red leather interior.
The same records detail its factory maintenance through the early years of the car's life and intriguingly, confirm that the car returned to the works within the first two years to be uprated with a five speed manual ZF transmission, no doubt to improve the usability of its four liter engine. Although this was an option on late DB4s and would be standard on the DB5, it was a significant improvement over even the standard Rapides which had four speed units. Six months later, it received a replacement engine at the factory also, which is believed to be the unit still in the car today.
The car surfaced at a Bonhams USA sale in the mid-2000s when it was noted as having had just two owners from new, which would almost certainly account for its generally original and correct order. It appears that it has never undergone a complete restoration. At some point the car's paint has been refurbished to a quality standard, which today presents well, as does the interior which is a good balance of new and original leather sympathetically refurbished, while in recent times the trunk compartment has been completely re-trimmed.
Long overlooked, these cars are now being appreciated for the value that they represent when compared to the uplift that their Aston counterparts have seen in the last five years.