1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131

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Lot 272
The Olympia Motor Exhibition Display Car
1934 Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon
Coachwork by J Gurney Nutting LTD

Sold for £ 175,100 (US$ 230,326) inc. premium
1934 Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon
Coachwork by J Gurney Nutting LTD

Registration no. US 9772
Chassis no. Z11131
*One of only six Lagondas bodied by Gurney Nutting
*Unique coachwork
*Restored in the late 1980s
*Featured in numerous books on the marque

Footnotes

  • '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.' - The Autocar.

    What finer combination of chassis and coachwork can the sporting motorist of 1934 have sought than one bearing the legendary names of Lagonda and J Gurney Nutting? George A Oliver described the 4½-litre Lagondas as skilfully 'making the transition from the big and robust sports car of the early years to the equally robust but suave town-carriage cum road-burner of the later period' and this was especially true of the M45 Rapide, the top-of-the-range model. Quicker and cheaper than the contemporary Bentley, the Rapide incorporated significant improvements over the standard M45 model. The wheelbase was shortened to 10' 3", Girling brakes were standard equipment, the crankcase was RR50 alloy, heavier connecting rods and larger diameter crankshaft bearings were fitted, and a freewheel device was bolted to the T8 gearbox. A Tecalemit full-flow oil filter was provided for the Rapide together with a Scintilla magneto, while suspension was damped by Girling-Luvax hydraulic shock absorbers and André Telecontrol dampers. At £825 it was significantly more expensive than the standard M45 – perhaps a sales ploy to enable the M45 to be phased out and manufacture of the Rapide to continue at a more commercially viable price.

    J Gurney Nutting was a relative newcomer among coachbuilders, enjoying the benefit of a Chelsea address and having the services of A F McNeil, designer par excellence. Their coachwork was almost exclusively of a sporting nature and in 1931 the company was awarded the contract for bodying Sir Malcolm Campbell's 'Bluebird' record car. The marriage of Lagonda engineering and Gurney Nutting coachwork could only be a success.

    'US 9772' is unique and believed to be one of only six Lagondas ever fitted with coachwork by J Gurney Nutting. It was specially commissioned for Lagonda's Motor Exhibition Stand No.143 at
    Olympia in October 1934. The pillar-less saloon coachwork was finished in two-tone maroon livery and the car was offered at £1,250, making it the most expensive on the stand by a significant margin. Lagonda retained the Rapide as their flagship model for exhibition at The Scottish Motor Show that same year, and the car was registered to its first owner in Glasgow on 5th January 1935. A year or so later it passed to its second owner, a Dr Tweed, who kept the car until 1967. It subsequently passed through the hands of dealer/enthusiast Leonard Potter of Newbury and then found a new home in North America (the Lagonda Club's records list owners in Illinois and California).

    In the mid-1980s, 'US 9772' returned to the UK, passing almost unrecognised through 'the trade' before its significance was recognised by Anthony Dady of Brighton, who saved it from the indignity of conversion to a racing special. The Girling brakes and special radiator cap were the clues that identified this rather tired saloon as the rare Rapide model, and further research revealed its Motor Show history. This is confirmed in correspondence to Anthony Dady from Lagonda Club Registrar Arnold Davey, who remarks, 'I can reassure you that the car is well worth restoration (not that it seems to require much) and when finished will be a unique Lagonda.' Davey also reveals that the car's original engine was numbered 'Z2881'. The engine currently fitted, '8066', was delivered from Meadows to Lagonda in February 1934 but it is not known how long it has been in 'Z11131', though it was already installed when the car was purchased by Anthony Dady. Davey speculates that this Gurney Nutting-bodied car may have been the one featured in contemporary advertising, the 'works' body being at that time unfinished. 

    Restoration began in 1987, the work being entrusted to Barry Simpson of Totnes, Devon and involving the removal of the body with the timber framework being replaced as necessary, the brief being to retain originality wherever possible. The freewheel mechanism and Jackall system were carefully re-commissioned, while the engine overhaul included fitting hardened valve seats for running on unleaded fuel and re-white metalling the bearings. The restoration culminated in 'US 9772' winning several notable concours d'élégance awards.

    In December 2003 the Rapide was offered for sale at Bonhams' auction at Olympia, London (Lot 1076) and was purchased there by Jim Boland. The previous vendor acquired the car in 2010, the current vendor purchased the Lagonda at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction, 2015 (Lot 327). The elegant close-coupled coachwork is superbly presented in two-tone dark blue/black livery with grey leather upholstery. All period fittings have been carefully retained, the snug interior affording all the comforts for the gentleman driver while the lusty 4½-litre engine and Rapide specification provide the exhilarating sports car performance that made these Lagondas noted for 'the exuberance of their manner of going'. 

    'US 9772' is recorded in the Davey/May 'magnum opus', 'A History of the Marque', in Bird's 'The Lagonda Marque', and is pictured in Seaton's book on Lagonda. Offered with a very comprehensive history file containing restoration invoices totalling in excess £100,000, 'US 9772' represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire a unique example of the very best of British coachbuilding, gracing one of the finest sporting chassis of its era.
Contacts
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
1934  Lagonda M45 Rapide Close-Coupled Pillar-Less Saloon  Chassis no. Z11131
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