The Lagonda was a marque of automotive aristocracy more than equal to its luxury sports car competitors, Bentley, Invicta and Railton. When Rolls-Royce bought him out, W.O. Bentley in fact chose to move to Lagonda, which was acquired in 1947 by the industrialist David Brown at much the same time as Aston Martin, for whose salvation he depended on Bentley’s legendary engineering.
Brown put the available 2.6 litre Bentley engine first into his Aston Martin DB2, and only in 1948 into his first Lagonda, a wonderful but old-fashioned, somewhat stately magnificence. It was 1953 before he announced the new 3 litre Lagonda, powered by a revised Bentley engine capable of topping the magic 100 mph (161 km/h), and featuring the advanced design of a cruciform-braced chassis and all-round independent suspension. Initially, though seating four, it came only as a two-door closed saloon or a convertible drophead coupe (styled by the Swiss coachbuilder, Graber). Though fast, the column-change gearbox detracted from its sporty appeal.
By 1954, the gear change was floor mounted, and drivers could feel they were truly participating in one of the era’s great motoring experiences. The saloon appeared with four doors, and the drophead coupe just got better. You bathed in leather and walnut, with every available extra installed as standard in a vehicle of supremely discreet elegance, while the engine effortlessly dealt with the solid weight of genuine luxury. Five people could be comfortable in a 3 litre Lagonda, and even with the ample boot filled with luggage, the car fulfilled its fastest specs.
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh thought so, too, and had his 3 litre Lagonda Drophead Coupe finished in Edinburgh Green with Battleship Grey upholstery. He even persuaded his bride, HM The Queen, to use it, in 1959 on the occasion of the official opening of Britain’s first, motorway, the M1.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1953 (until 1958)
2,922 cc DOHC Straight Six
Top speed of 104 mph (167 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 12.9 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW: This beautiful car was unfortunately more expensive than its obvious rivals, and only 270 were ever made including all its configurations. It was succeeded in 1961 by the Lagonda Rapid, another super luxury saloon but after that Aston Martin had to go it alone.