The Lagonda LG6 was first displayed at the New York Auto Salon in October 1939 in preparation for the 1940 model year. The Lagonda, according to the press of the day, was one of the event's 'show stoppers.' Only 85 LG6 chassis were produced and just six were Rapides. The engine and chassis were developed by W.O. Bentley, who had just unhappily left Rolls-Royce after his company was taken over. He joined Lagonda with the express purpose of creating a luxury sports car, and this vehicle was the result. The wonderfully balanced coachwork was envisioned by designer Frank Feeley and built at the Lagonda factory. The 4.5-liter 6-cylinder engine is capable of delivering 140 bhp and a speed of 100 mph. Mr. Horace Ridgley Bullock of New York was this car's first owner. It is a three-owner car from new and one of only six LG6 Rapides ever built.
In Detail Take an opera singer from Ohio, mix in some Scottish ancestry, add a little water from a river near Springfield, Ohio and what do you end up with: Lagonda.
It would seem a former opera singer might not know all that much about automobiles and manufacturing. But then again, when Wilbur Gunn came to establish Lagonda at Staines, Middlesex in 1899, not a whole lot of people did understand all that much about the still rather new automobile industry.
Over time, Gunn would show a good deal of business savvy and wisdom until by the early 1930s Lagonda had come to build a 4.5-liter M45 chassis that would provide customers with an affordable car and performance similar to that of a Bentley.
The M45 would become one of the most desirable cars to have by 1934. Because Lagonda made their own bodies customers were able to experience a car of considerable quality without having to spend their entire fortune to own one. All of this made the M45 very popular, but it would cause Lagonda to try for more.
At the peak of the M45's popularity, the new Rapide would be introduced to the public in 1935. Although it was more expensive, it did provide customers with a car that had a much more powerful engine on a shorter chassis and made use of a new Girling brakes. Then, in 1938, a evolution of the Rapide would be unveiled. It would be known as the LG6.
The LG6 Rapide would still have the 4.5-liter 'Meadows' six-cylinder engine. It would also include the normal dual SU carburetion and a four-speed manual transmission. However, the car would make use of an independent front suspension on torsion bar springs and Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes. When all combined together, the LG6 Rapide's performance fit the Lagonda reputation quite well.
While the majority of the earlier Rapide models were built on short wheelbases there was only a very rare handful that would end up being built on long wheelbases. In fact, only six would end up being built and one of those rare examples would be available for sale at this year's RM Auction in Monterey, California.
Chassis 123172 was the result of the work of Alan Good. He had taken the LG45 Rapide extended it and had created a truly elegant design complete with teardrop fenders and other aesthetic features that were quite popular at the time.
The LG6 had first made an appearance at the 1937 London Motor Show. However, production wouldn't get rolling until 1938. By the time the Second World War broke out for England in September of 1939, one six LG6s would be completed. One of those would be the one up for auction in Monterey.
12372, although built in 1938, would end up sitting around until 1940 when it would then be shipped to Allerton-Hickmott of Hartford, Connecticut. Upon arriving in the United States, the car wouldn't be sold right away. Instead, it would serve as a main showpiece at the New York Auto Salon. While on display, Horace Ridgely Bullock would become enamored by the car and would end up trading in his 1929 Rolls-Royce for the car.
The Lagonda seemed the perfect fit for Bullock who, besides being a very successful businessman, was also known to be something an all-around sportsman. He would be a major player in the America's Cup and other activities. Besides his enjoyment of outdoor activities, Bullock is perhaps otherwise best known for his enjoyment of good music and was largely instrumental in the promotion of the Lester Lanin swing band.
Bullock would end up owning the LG6 for more than twenty years. Then, in 1961, he would end up selling the car to Richard Roy, a New Jersey businessman and a classic-car enthusiast.
If Bullock owning the car for more than twenty years was rather impressive then Roy's ownership was something truly astounding. Roy would hold onto the car as part of his collection for a total of 46 years.
Then in 2007, Roy would end up selling the car to the owner of Lime Rock. Skip Barber would come to own the car and would almost immediately have the car sent for restoration. RM Auto Restoration would be contracted to do the work. The restorers would go to work performing a total restoration of the car. Very quickly it was realized that while much of the car was original it was really beginning to show signs of deterioration and severe aging.
The work would take almost a year and a half. But when it emerged it would go on to score a second in class at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours. Bearing a striking blue/green exterior and 'pigskin'Connolly interior, it would also go on to earn the 'Beaulieu Cup' which was for the most significant English car at the venue.
While the origins of the company certainly didn't seem to blend well, the LG6 Rapide; however, was almost the perfect blend of style, grace and power. Not only could it seat its occupants in luxurious comfort, it had the power and performance to make the trip enjoyable and exciting at the same time. Like a beautifully performed opera, the LG6 combined all of the senses and emotions to strike just the right note. As a result of this blending, 12372 would earn $544,500.
Sources: 'Lot No. 230: 1938 Lagonda LG6 Rapide Drophead Coupe', (http://www.rmauctions.com/CarDetails.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r125&Currency=USD). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/CarDetails.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r125&Currency=USD. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Lagonda', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 August 2011, 10:19 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lagonda&oldid=445646330 accessed 30 August 2011
'Lagonda History', (http://www.lagondaclub.co.uk/index.php?/history/P3/). Lagonda Club. http://www.lagondaclub.co.uk/index.php?/history/P3/. Retrieved 29 August 2011.Also photographed at :