1938 Lagonda V12 Drophead Coupe ***Stunning World Market Classic***
Oldtimer Australia is excited to offer for sale this exceptionally restored 1938 Lagonda V12 Drophead Coupe.
The Lagonda V12 is considered to be one of the very best prewar cars ever built. Designed by WO Bentley, the Lagonda V12 is perhaps his finest achievement.
In total, Lagonda produced only 189 V12’s, which included saloons, coupes and drophead coupes. As a result of the quality of these cars and their rarity, they are highly sought after today by enthusiasts and collectors all over the world.
According to the Lagonda Club in the UK, this particular car was delivered by University Motors to its first owner Sidney Cory-Wright of Mackerye End near Harpenden, Hertfordshire on the 29th July 1938. The car passed through a few UK owners before being imported into Australia in 1960. It remained in continuous family ownership for more than 50 years before being acquired by the current owner in March 2012.
The current owner has completed a comprehensive nut and bolt restoration to a very high standard. The restoration was a ‘long journey’ and the car was finally registered on the 13th of November 2020. It has been used sparingly since.
This car retains its original ‘matching numbers’ engine.
Today this car presents essentially as a freshly restored car. The paint, chrome and external trim all present beautifully. The dark blue paintwork is complimented by the trademark bold chrome Lagonda grill, lights and the front bumper. The elegant yet in some ways understated Lagonda coachwork has been totally restored and the panel gaps are near perfect. The doors, bonnet and boot all open and close as they should. With the top down the biscuit upholstery provides a stunning colour contrast with the paint work.
The painted wire wheels and chrome wheel spinners have all been refurbished and present beautifully. The tyres are Dunlop 6.00/6.50-18, dated stamped 28/13 (week 28, 2013).
Inside the tastefully appointed cabin everything is like new. The upholstery, carpets, timber, instruments and controls have been painstakingly refurbished.
The soft top is surprisingly easy to raise and lower for a prewar car and it fits exceptionally well. It also presents as new.
Under the bonnet, the mighty 4,480cc V12 engine dominates the clean and well-presented engine bay.
Given how well this car presents, it is not surprising that it drives superbly. On our test drive the engine fired first time from cold with a firm push of the starter button. The V12 engine is incredibly smooth and very quiet. Out on the open road the car is incredibly easy to drive and in no time at all you are comfortable behind the wheel. The car easily keeps up with modern traffic. There is more than enough power on tap and the engine pulls strongly through the rev range. The brakes are also very good for a car of this vintage and pull the car up efficiently and in a straight line. All too often one has to fight gear changes on pre war cars, but on this Lagonda the gear changes are direct and smooth, helped by having synchromesh on second, third and fourth gears. The steering is surprisingly light, particularly once on the move.
This car is without doubt one of the most exciting and usable prewar cars we have had the opportunity to offer for sale.
Today the odometer reads 47,337 miles.
The current owner has a significant collection of cars and is taking his collection in a different direction. As a result, this magnificent Lagonda V12 is now offered for sale.
A Lagonda V12 is a rare car anywhere in the world, but the chance to acquire one in this condition in Australia presents a very unique opportunity.
- Rare and extremely desirable Lagonda V12 Drophead Coupe
- Known history from new.
- Beautifully restored to a very high standard.
- Presented in a stunning colour scheme.
- Ready to show, use and enjoy.
Wilbur Gunn was born in 1859 in the Shawnee settlement “Lagonda” in modern day Springfield, Ohio, USA. Gunn was a former opera singer who became a British national in 1891. After moving to the UK, Gunn further pursued a career as an artist and singer. Fortunately, he wasn’t that successful and in 1898 he started building motorcycles. Gunn was quite successful building motorcycles, so much so that a Lagonda represented Great Britain in international cup races. In 1905 he won the London – Edinburgh trail. In 1906 Gunn founded a company and he started building cars. The name Lagonda was the Shawnee Indian name for what is now Buck Creek in Gunn’s native Springfield, Ohio and Gunn decided to use that name for his company. His first car was launched in 1907, the Lagonda 20HP, 6 cylinder Torpedo. The car was quite a success and in 1910 Gunn won the Moscow – St Peterburgs trial in the car. That win resulted in quite a few export orders from Russia.
Already in the prewar period Lagonda started producing some very advanced cars. In 1913 the company introduced 11.1, a small car with a 1,099cc four cylinder engine. By 1914 this model featured a panhard rod, a rivetted unibody body and the first ever fly off handbrake.
After World War I, production of the 11.1 continued. The car evolved into the 11.9, which had a larger 1400cc engine and standard electric lighting. The 11.9 was built until 1923 and the updated 12 until 1926.
After Gunn had passed away in 1920, three existing directors took charge of the company led by Colin Parbury. In 1925 Lagonda produced its first sports model, the 14/60 which featured a twin cam 1,954 cc four cylinder engine and hemispherical combustion chambers. It was superseded by the 2.0 litre speed model with a higher output engine in 1927. By 1930 that car could be ordered with a supercharger. A lengthened chassis version, the 16/65, with 6 cylinder, 2.4 litre engine was available from 1926 to 1930. The final car of the 1920’s was the 3.0 Litre using a 2931cc, 6 cylinder engine. This continued until 1933 when the engine grew to 3,181 cc and was also available with a complex 8 speed Maybach transmission as the Selector Special.
A new model for 1933 was the 16-80 using a 2-litre Crossley engine with pre selector gearbox from 1934. A new small car, the Rapier came along in 1934 with 1,104cc engine and pre selector gearbox. This lasted until 1935 but more were made until 1938 by a separate company. At the other extreme was the near 100mph, 4.5 litre M45 with Meadows supplied 6 cylinder 4,467cc engine. An out and out sporting version the M45R Rapide, with tuned M45 engine and a shorter chassis was also offered. Car dealer Arthur Fox entered two Lagonda M45R’s into the 1935 Le Mans 24 hour race and despite suffering from damaged steering and having hardly any oil left in the engine, the Lagonda driven by John Hindmarsh and Luís Fontes won that year’s race.
Alan P Good managed to purchase the company in 1935, outbidding Rolls-Royce. He then also managed to persuade WO Bentley to leave Rolls-Royce and join Lagonda as a Technical Director. The 4.5-litre range now became the LG45 with lower but heavier bodies and also available in LG45R Rapide form. The LG45 came in 3 versions known as Sanction 1, 2 and 3 each with more Bentley touches to the engine. 1938 saw the introduction of the LG6 with independent front suspension by torsion bar and hydraulic brakes.
In the meantime, Bentley, together with ex-Rolls Royce employees Stuart Tresillian and Charles Sewell and design expert Frank Feeley, had been working on his new masterpiece, the Lagonda V12. Launched in 1937, the Lagonda V12 was powered by a 4,480cc V12 engine that delivered 180 bhp and was said to be capable of going from 7 to 105 mph in top gear and to rev to 5,000 rpm.
Production of the Lagonda V12 started in 1938 and finished in 1940. Coachwork was offered either inhouse by Lagonda or one of the other independent coach builders. To accommodate the various body designs, upon ordering customers were given the choice of either a 124 inch wheel base, a 132 inch wheel base or a 138 inch wheel base. In total Lagonda produced 189 V12’s, making them exceptionally rare motor cars.
The Lagonda V12 is today considered one of the finest pre-war cars ever built.
In making an evaluation of the better British cars, Road & Track Magazine’s October 1978 edition said: “The Lagonda V12 certainly must be considered an excellent design and one that contributed to raising the state-of-the-art, and not forgetting of course, that it probably should be considered W O Bentley’
- Lagonda V12 Drophead Coupe
- Drophead Coupe
- 47,337 miles