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 for 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 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. by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2010
The original owner of this Lagonda was Mr. W.H. Kiep in February of 1934 who purchased the vehicle through Central Garage of Bradford. After his ownership, it is believed the car passed through several owners, including Peter Whitehead, who would lat....[continue reading]
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