The 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda: history that would Rapide itself

The 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda: history that would Rapide itself

The Lagonda is a weird car because half of me loves it and the other half loathes it, it’s a weird looking creation at first that kind of grows on you and I would kind of love nothing more than to own one. It was born in the 1970’s as Aston Martin was (once again) in financial trouble and although it was happily creating the 2 + 2 sports cars that we are all fond of today, it needed a quick influx of cash. It found this in the form of deposits for the Lagonda.

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It used the Series 1 Lagonda, which was just a 4 door version of the Aston Martin V8 as a spring board to get these deposits, it built some hype when they released it in 1974 with the 5.3liter engine and styling based on the DBS it was the perfect platform to let the world know that their team was working on something special and although only 7 were sold, it was enough to gain deposits for the Series 2.

In 1974, after selling the seven Series one cars, Bill Towns (a seat designer in the company) was put in charge of the project and decided to go in the direction of an extreme version of the classic 1970’s “folded paper” style. This wedge shape design is also found on the Countach, Lotus Esprit and the DMC Delorian. These types of cars also draw a very split opinion among enthusiasts.

In building this car, they decided to make it an extreme luxury car which had a price tag to boot, it was in the same league as a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and Bentley Mulsanne of the time and as such it needed to have some toys, which it did! It was the first production car ever to have a digital display using LED’s to give the driver information and the whole dash was designed to be futuristic, like a spaceship’s cockpit. Sadly, this being a hand built Aston Martin, it wasn’t very reliable and the LED was replaced with a CRT for the Series 3, however this turned out to be even less reliable.

It was unveiled at the London Motor Show in 1976 and the press were surprised to see the only thing it had in common with the 1974 Series one was the engine. However given the new car was heavier, its performance figures made it slower, going from 0-60 in 8.8s instead of 6.2s and achieving a top speed of 143mph instead of 149mph. It didn’t matter, this was a different type of beast altogether.

The Lagonda retailed at GB£49,933 in 1980, significantly more than a Ferrari 400 or Maserati Kyalami but less than a Rolls-Royce Corniche. Deliveries of the 1976 Lagonda began in 1979, obviously.

The series 3 would sell 75 units and be on sale from 1986 until 1987, when the new Series 4 was introduced giving it a face lift and overhaul in styling as you can see above. Can you? I can’t. Oh yea, I see it now.

The good news is that they sold 645 over the lifetime of this car and it was enough to keep Aston Martin from bankruptcy and finally something useful for the Lagonda brand which they had purchased in 1947.

The irony is, in the financial crisis of 2008, they decided to do the exact same thing again with the Aston Martin Rapide, named after the Lagonda Rapide of 1961. This time around though it failed and unfortunately once again as I type this, Aston Martin is in bad shape. I hope they live to Rapide this once again. Sorry. No more.