Sold for £225,000
(including buyers premium)
Registration No: CKU 737
Chassis No: 14026
The Lagonda V12, a remarkable feat of automotive engineering by W. O. Bentley, stood as a shining example of British craftsmanship during its era. This model, designed in the 1930s, held its place among a select few elite road cars of the time that could effortlessly surpass the 100mph mark even in its standard configuration. Notably, the splendid 4½-litre V12 engine boasted an abundance of torque, granting the vehicle the unique ability to smoothly transition from a walking pace to maximum speed while in top gear. The year 1935 marked a pivotal turning point for Lagonda, as it faced bankruptcy only to be rescued by Alan Good, a young solicitor. Good orchestrated a revitalization of the company, enlisting the expertise of W. O. Bentley, who had grown disillusioned with his tenure at Rolls-Royce, which had acquired Bentley's eponymous brand in 1931. Under Bentley's guidance, the Lagonda V12 underwent refinements, while Bentley simultaneously worked on a significantly advanced design, often regarded as one of his greatest achievements.
Unveiled in 1936, the Lagonda V12, however, did not commence deliveries until 1938. A mere 189 units of various types were assembled before the outbreak of World War II abruptly halted production. Distinguishing itself, the innovative chassis incorporated double-wishbone independent front suspension and was offered with an array of coachwork options, including the luxurious limousine. The artistic touch of Frank Feeley, renowned for his work on Aston Martin's post-war 'DB' vehicles, graced the elegant factory bodywork. As customary, the short-chassis Rapide roadster pushed the boundaries of performance even further. The announcement of the V12 model attested to Lagonda's robust resurgence, a sentiment further bolstered by the company's decision to participate in the prestigious 1939 Le Mans 24-Hour Race. The Lagonda brand already boasted a respectable track record at Le Mans, with a short-chassis 4½-Litre securing an outright victory in the endurance classic in 1935, driven by John Hindmarsh and Luis Fontes. In a notable feat, Earl Howe set a new national record in October 1938, covering an impressive 101.5 miles at Brooklands in just one hour, even necessitating a brief pit stop to replace a burst tyre.
These remarkable achievements, coupled with the V12's exceptional performance in high-speed trials, solidified its candidacy for restoring British prestige at Le Mans. Consequently, a decision was made to field a two-car team in 1939, aimed at gathering crucial data, with ambitious plans for a full-fledged assault the following year. During the race, the streamlined two-seater Lagondas exceeded expectations, with drivers Messrs Brackenbury and Dobson securing a respectable 3rd place finish, and Lords Selsdon and Waleran taking 4th place. A more daring race strategy might have propelled them to victory.
Chassis number '14026' initially served as a saloon before being meticulously transformed into a Le Mans specification by Vintage Coachworks in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The restoration journey, undertaken for its owner Mr. Alastair Barker, was a testament to uncompromising dedication, evident in detailed invoices, correspondence, and progress photos chronicling the painstaking process. Completion of this intricate restoration, overseen by David Ayre in 2004, included a comprehensive overhaul of the braking system, culminating in the creation of a new tonneau cover by Gary Wright. However, the story did not conclude there, as the engine necessitated another overhaul in 2009/2010 due to an oil pump drive gear failure. Records of these subsequent repairs are on file, and the vehicle comes with a V5C document registered in Mr. Barker's name and an old buff logbook along with a collection of MOT certificates (with the most recent one expiring in 2017).
The Lagonda V12, a testament to W. O. Bentley's engineering, remains an epitome of sophistication, allure, and exclusivity from the pre-war era. This example, enhanced to the coveted 'Le Mans' specification, presents a unique and unmissable opportunity for enthusiasts and collectors alike.
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Auction: 30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 20th Sep, 2023
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Tuesday 19th September 2023 from 1pm to 8pm
Wednesday 20th September 2023 from 9am
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