Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 21
1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer

Sold for £ 785,500 (US$ 1,079,483) inc. premium
Single family ownership from new
1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer

*One of only 25 made
*Purchased directly from the factory in 1937
*Highly original
*Well maintained

Footnotes

  • The 4½-Litre Lagonda was one of the most accomplished sports cars of the 1930s, as a succession of high-profile race wins, culminating in victory at Le Mans in 1935, amply demonstrates. Having established its reputation by winning the Moscow - St Petersburg Reliability Trial of 1910 with a 30hp six, Lagonda had 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-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.

    Shortly after the M45's introduction, The Autocar got its hands on one. '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.'

    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.

    Under the technical direction of the great W O Bentley, recently departed from Rolls-Royce, the big Lagonda became more refined, the M45's successor - the LG45 - gaining synchromesh gears, flexible engine mounts and centralised chassis lubrication among many other improvements. Intended as a prestige, upmarket model, the LG45 was aimed squarely at the Bentleys built by W O's erstwhile employer. Endowed with such impeccable pedigree, the 4½-Litre Lagonda quickly established itself as a favourite among the wealthy sporting motorists of its day.

    In its road test published on 10th April 1936, The Autocar declared: 'The 4½-Litre has always given a fine performance; in its latest form it provides all the performance that anyone can reasonably require, and at the same time has been silenced, smoothed out and made a much more comfortable car, so that in comparison with the earlier versions it is hardly recognisable on first driving it. It can only be said that the appeal of the car has been considerably widened, for the people who today set great store by noise and a harsh suspension are greatly outnumbered by those to whom refinement in a fast car is far more desirable.'

    For some though, this more refined 4½-Litre had moved too far away from the original sporting image of the marque, among them being Lagonda company director and former racing driver Dick Watney, previously with Rootes. It was the perfectionist Watney who conceived the Rapide, considering that the big Lagonda had grown too sober; the 4½-Litre's obviously fine performance notwithstanding. Stylist Frank Feeley, whose fruitful post-war career with Aston Martin would commence with the DB2 and included the design of the DB3S, was briefed to create an eye-catching, four-seater sports car on the production LG45 chassis without either shortening the frame or employing too many special components. Announced in September 1936, less than six months after the company's takeover by Alan Good and Dick Watney, the result was the lightened Rapide, powered by a 'Sanction 3' engine. The latter incorporated the previous 'Sanctions' (improvements), adding a redesigned cylinder head and revised carburettor/induction arrangements to the package. For Rapide version of the 'Sanction 3' the compression ratio was raised from 6.68:1 to 7:1, or 7.5:1 for any owner willing to prepare his own high-octane fuel! There was also an improved exhaust system based on the Fox and Nicholl racing design.

    Lagonda's own coachwork was among the most handsome offered by any manufacturer, and for the lightweight LG45 Rapide a 'no frills' open tourer body adorned with helmet wings was the only type specified. The most eye-catching British sports car of its day, the Lagonda Rapide went every bit as fast as its sensational looks suggested.

    'The whole appearance of the car was flamboyant and extrovert, so much so there was some muttering about it being a car for a "Promenade Percy"... This was dispelled forever when the top speed reached on road test was published... 133.5bhp at 3,400 rpm... 108.2 mph... rest to 50mph in 9.4 seconds and to 60 mph in 13.2... a eulogistic test...' - Davey & May, 'Lagonda'.

    One of only 25 manufactured, chassis number '12173/R' is from the second batch of LG45 Rapide Tourers made at the Staines factory. The Lagonda was purchased new by George Dodd in 1937 via the factory, finished in Grey with blue trim, and fitted with the right-hand change G9-type gearbox. In 1960, George Dodd, then in his 80th year, purchased an AC Ace-Bristol and passed on the Rapide to his son Barclay, by which time it had recorded some 67,000 miles. Barclay, who passed away in February of this year at the age of 100, enjoyed a very busy and active life including a test driver for Aston Martin in the 1930s.

    Barclay Dodd first encountered the Lagonda Rapide in 1937 while he was working for Aston Martin at its Hanworth Aerodrome works. Impressed by the factory demonstrator's performance on the new Chertsey Bypass, he recommended the Rapide to his father, who duly took delivery of 'FPB 198' on 23rd March 1937. The car was delivered straight from the Staines factory by a Mr Fenn to its owner's home in Uckfield, Sussex, replacing a 4½-Litre Bentley the family had owned from new.

    Writing in the Lagonda Club's magazine in 1985, Barclay Dodd described 'FPB 198', by then with over 92,000 miles recorded, as 'still sound in wind and limb, maintaining the same performance with which the green demonstrator so thrilled me 48 years ago and providing still that customary day by day transportation in comfort.'

    Well known locally in East Sussex as 'ton-up Barclay', he used the Rapide as regular transport well into his 90s, often being stopped by the local constabulary for speeding. A Mercedes-Benz 500SL was purchased as a replacement daily driver in the early 1990s but Barclay found it too slow and wanted an SL55 AMG instead! The Lagonda's fame is not confined to East Sussex, as it has appeared in the film Nanny McPhee and The Big Bang (2010) and an episode of the Miss Marple television series: The Blue Geranium.

    There appear to be only a few minor modifications from original, including the separate switches for the twin fuel pumps, while the "Luvax" hydraulic front shock absorbers were changed for telescopic units after emergency high speed braking, following a dice on the Great North Road with a Phantom III Rolls-Royce before the War, revealed a certain amount of axle tramp. The hood and frame are more recent replacements, as Barclay's father insisted a convertible had no need for a hood and threw the originals away. The replacement frame was fabricated using another Rapide's frame as a template.

    The original engine has been rebuilt in recent times and some light damage to the body has been professionally repaired. The car has been regularly serviced and MoT'd over the last 25-plus years. With the exception of the driver's seat squab, the majority of the interior is believed to be original. The history file contains sundry maintenance and servicing bills; a V5C registration document; original instruction book, copy of the aforementioned Lagonda magazine article; and photographs of the Lagonda with its owners: father and son.

    One of few 1930s automobiles capable of comfortably exceeding 100mph, the Lagonda LG45 Rapide was one of the most exciting and elegant British sports cars of the period and a true supercar of its day, more than capable of holding its own against the very best cars produced by the company's competitors. With so few made, '12173' is almost certainly the the last Rapide still owned by its original family, and therefore represents a possibly once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire an original example of one these fabulous cars.
Contacts
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Single family ownership from new,1937 Lagonda 4½-Litre LG45 Rapide Tourer
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

Under the Buyer's Agreement, a premium (the Buyer's
Premium) is payable to us by the Buyer in accordance with the terms of the Buyer's Agreement and at rates set out below, calculated by reference to the Hammer Price and payable in addition to it. Storage charges and Expenses
are also payable by the Buyer as set out in the Buyer's Agreement.

All the sums payable to us by the Buyer are subject to VAT
For this Sale the following rates of Buyer's Premium will be payable by Buyers of Lots:

Motor Cars and Motorcycles
15% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
12% from £50,001 of the Hammer Price

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalog.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

App