Wilbur Gunn was born in 1859 and grew up in Springfield, Ohio. He arrived in England in 1891 where he met Mrs. Constance Grey, his future wife. She was a widower who had lost her husband in 1896. Constance and Gunn married in 1897. In 1898 Wilbur adopted a single-cylinder petrol engine to his bicycle. Within time, the Lagonda factory would be built on the property of their house. The name Lagonda was named for a creek near Gunn's home. The name 'Lagonda' is Shawnee Native American for a place now called Buck Creek.
Gunn's motorcycle proved to be successful in competition and international competition. Soon, he expanded his offerings to include three-wheeled vehicles with larger capacity engines. Over seventy examples were created. In 1908 Gunn won the London to England reliability trim which earned him the Gold Medal for that year. In 1910 the Moscow-St Petersburg reliability trial was won by Lagonda.
When World War I broke out, the Lagonda factory was morphed to accommodate the war effort. Their primary duties were in building shells. After the war they returned to building automobiles and racers. Shortly thereafter, Gunn passed away, dying in 1920. Gunn's partner, Alf Cranmer, continued the operations. Cranmer had been with the company from 1904 until 1935.
At the 1925 London Motor Show, a two-liter hemispherical four-cylinder model was introduced. It excellent braking and superior construction continued its reputation for power and performance. A more sporting version, the 'speed', was introduced a two years later. In 1930 Lagonda adopted a supercharger to their 2-liter motor and achieved a 90-mph top speed.
In 1933 the Lagonda M45 was introduced at the London Motor Show. It came equipped with a Meadows engine of 4453 cc capacity. Lord de Clifford used a prototype to outrun a train traveling from London to Brindisi. The feat was done in 14 hours. Future versions of the M45 were later modified and entered into the 1934 Tourist Trophy and all three entrants finished in strong fashion. Road going versions of these vehicles were later offered to the public.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans race was, and still is, one of the most prestigious races. It was grueling for driver, team, and automobile. During the 1920's and 1930's Bentley and Alfa Romeo were the favored victors. In 1935 John Hindmarsh and Luis Fontes drove a Lagonda M45 Rapide 1,868.42 miles averaging 77.85 mph to an overall victory.
Sadly, this victory was not met with increased sales. Part of the decline was new speed restrictions of 30 mph across Britain. Declining sales sent the company into bankruptcy. The company was saved by Alan Good and the company was reformed as LG Motors and WO Bentley employed. Their first introduction was the LG45 which was based on the M45. It was given Girling brakes and a softer suspension. In total 278 examples were offered.
There were only 25 examples of the LG45 constructed. It came in only one body style, a two-door four-seater tourer with cycle-type wings and chrome external exhausts. The series was given higher compression ratios and higher gearing, resulting in a higher top speed. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2008
Having left his name behind, but not his talent, W.O. Bentley would apply all his skills into making Lagonda into the automotive company it could be. Lagonda was already proving itself on the track and on the road, but Bentley's final touches would h....[continue reading]
This 1937 Lagonda LG45 Rapide was offered for sale at the 2006 RM Auction in Monterey, CA where it was expected to sell between $600,000-$800,000. It has been treated to an professional restoration since new. It has Connolly leather trimwork, cut-a....[continue reading]
Alan P. Good and Dick Watney rescued Lagonda from receivership in the mid-1930s, outbidding Rolls-Royce to acquire it. They quickly re-organized the business as LG Motors and recruited W.O. Bentley as chief engineer, along with most of his former eng....[continue reading]
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