In 1947 entrepreneur David Brown answered a small ad in The Times offering ‘High-class motor business for sale’… and bought Aston Martin. His spending spree didn’t stop, for he also acquired Lagonda . . . which cost more than twice as much as Aston Martin. In fact, the bargain buy would be the winner and Lagonda an also-ran.
At first everything went well. The first postwar Lagonda engine — designed by the legendary W O Bentley — not only appeared in the handsome Lagonda 2.6 litre drophead coupe of 1948 but would also power the great Aston Martins of the 1950s. The 2.6 was succeeded by the 3 litre coupe (fixed or drophead) and saloon in 1953, but when that was discontinued in 1958 and not replaced it was generally assumed the Lagonda marque was toast.
But no! David Brown may have been busy winning races with his Astons, but he found time to develop another Lagonda — the elegant Rapide, styled by Touring in Milan, launched in 1961 and based on the Aston Martin DB4. This long, low saloon was every bit as elegant as its predecessors. It had a 4 litre engine, lightweight chassis and aluminium body. There were servo-assisted disc brakes all round and an automatic four-speed gearbox. The interior featured a mandatory burr walnut dashboard and leather upholstery. It lived up to its name with an impressive top speed as David Brown tried to resurrect the four-door performance GT format.
He was delighted with the result, but sadly cash-rich buyers were slow to appreciate the opportunity they were missing. The Rapide was built to order, and only 55 of those were taken in four years. The last Lagonda was hand-built in 1964 and if you don’t already own one don’t bother to go looking.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1961 (until 1964)
3,995 cc Straight Six
Top speed of 130 mph; 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 10.2 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The combined price David Brown paid for both Aston Martin and Lagonda in 1947 was less than £75,000 – which in turn was only half the average price of ONE Aston Martin Lagonda, the stunning supercar launched 30 years later.