1950 Lagonda 2.6 Litre Drophead Coupe
Wilbur Gunn was born in 1859 in the Shawnee settlement “Lagonda” in modern day Springfield, Ohio. 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 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 pre-war period Lagonda started producing some pretty advanced cars. In 1913 the company produced the 11.1, and advanced, 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 in the 11.9, which had a larger 1400-cc engine and standard electric lighting. The 11.9 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 It was superseded by the 2-Litre speed model with a higher output engine in 1927.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 1920s was the 3-litre using a 2931-cc 6-cylinder engine. This continued until 1933 when the engine grew to 3181 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 1104-cc 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 100-mph, 4.5-litre M45 with Meadows-supplied 6-cylinder 4467-cc engine. An out and out sporting version the M45R Rapide, with tuned M45 engine and a shorter chassis. Car dealer Arthur Fox entered two Lagonda M45R’s into the 1935 Le Mans 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 beating Alfa Romeo.
Alan P. Good managed to purchase the company in 1935, outbidding Rolls-Royce. He then also managed to persuade W.O. 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 V12. It was launched in 1937. The 4480-cc engine delivered 180 bhp and was said to be capable of going from 7 to 105 mph in top gear and to rev to 5000 rpm.
Production of the Lagonda V12 started in 1938 and finished in 1940. Coachwork could be done by either 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 wheelbase, a 132 inch wheel base or a 138 inch wheel base. In total Lagonda produced 189 V12’s only 10 of those had the long, 138 inch wheel base.
In 1947 Lagonda was purchased by David Brown which resulted in the company being moved to Feltham, Middlesex, UK where Aston Martin, also owned by David Brown, was based. Production was restarted and the first Lagonda produced after World War II was the Lagonda 2.6 Litre. Powered by the straight six engine designed by W.O Bentley the 2.6 was available as a saloon and a drop head coupe. The 2.6 remained in production till 1953 and in total 512 were made, 390 saloons and 122 convertibles.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale an Australian delivered, factory RHD 1950 Lagonda 2.6 Litre Drop Head Coupe by Tickford.
The Heritage Certificate on file confirms this particular example was built on 29th June 1950. It also confirms that this car was a RHD export delivery to Brown & Dureau in Sydney. It was delivered new in ‘bottle blue’ and supplied with an instruction book and a radio.
It is understood Brown & Dureau used this car to promote Lagonda at the 1951 Sydney Motor Show. The current owner’s father purchased the car off the stand at the motor show for his wife. There is a photo on file showing the car with the number plate AI 587 outside of the Sydney Showgrounds the day after the motor show.
The family enjoyed their Lagonda for the next few years and the current owner remembers vividly being driving around Sydney’s northern beaches in the car. Unfortunately, his father had an accident in the car in 1955 and the car was retired to their garage for repairs. In the early 1970’s a good family friend, Peter Woodward, convinced the current owner’s father to sell the car to him so he could repair it and use it again for its intended purpose – to be driven, seen and admired! Woodward used and enjoyed his Lagonda for the next 28 years. In 1983 the car was sold to Clarrie Robinson, who immediately embarked on what turned out to be a thirty plus year project to restore the car. The body was removed from the car for the restoration. Unfortunately, health issues prevented him from completing the restoration and in 2016 he contacted the current owner and offered the car to him. He thought it would be a great story to reunite the car with the family who first bought the car all those years ago. The current owner happily accepted the offer and purchased the car. The restoration was quickly completed and his intention was to surprise his mother and take her out to Christmas lunch in her ‘new’ Lagonda 2.6 Litre Drop Head Coupe. Sadly, that surprise never happened as his mother passed away aged 97 just over a week before Christmas. Fittingly, the car was taken out on Christmas morning for its first journey since 1983.
The car has been used sparingly since. It has been driven to the occasional car event in northern NSW and south east Queensland and it was trailered to Lagonda Australia Club event in the Barossa Valley a few years ago.
Today the car presents and drives exceptionally well.
- Lagonda 2.6 Litre Drophead Coupe
- Drophead Coupe
- 32,054 miles