Lagonda V12 – 1938

When his company went bust in the early 1930s, W O Bentley soon bounced back, joining Lagonda to head the tech team after the company was rescued from bankruptcy in 1935.

Ringing in his ears were the words of new Lagonda boss Alan P Good: ‘We have to produce the best car in the world and have only two years’. This demanding ask was achieved, and if the Lagonda V12 wasn’t the world’s finest it was certainly one of the most interesting cars produced in the 1930s.

Bentley’s team designed an innovative VI2 power plant that delivered more horsepower than any comparable non-supercharged engine. The chassis was also special, with an advanced suspension system that delivered an ultra-smooth ride, always a major consideration with wealthy clients. Equally important was the fact that the chassis was available in three sizes – short, medium and long.

This enabled a discerning customer to choose any body style, with the long chassis perfect for grand limousine bodies and the shortest for speedy roadsters. Fabulous shapes were created in-house by Frank Feeley, reflecting the decline of independent coachbuilders, though some striking bodies were still constructed outside. Varieties included limousines, saloons, tourers, coupes and dropheads.

Two of the most attractive VI 2s were a pair hastily prepared to compete in the 1939 Le Mans 24 race. They performed brilliantly, finishing third and fourth overall with ‘The Old Number Five’ winning its class. Another lightweight version beat the lap record at the famous Brooklands circuit – setting a mark of 120 mph (190 km/h), ironically beating a Bentley in the process. Sadly, the outbreak of World War II saw an end to the brilliant Lagonda V12, which would surely have become an all-time great if W 0 Bentley had been able to continue its development.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

UK

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1938 (until 1939)

ENGINE:

4,480 CCV12

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed around 105 mph (170 km/h)

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

These supreme machines are very exclusive, and still reserved for the wealthiest of drivers today-fewer than 200 Lagonda V12’s where hand-built and they top many a classic car wishlist.

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