Long, low-slung, svelte, lithe & muscular……………
The Aston Martin Lagonda was a four-door luxury saloon built from 1974-1990. This car was either ‘liked’ or ‘hated’ there was no in between. The styling was controversial for the time. These hand-crafted saloons were among the most expensive cars in the world. The Lagonda was produced in four series in two distinct versions. The Lagonda was designed by British Designer William Towns. It was introduced when Aston Martin had financial issues. The car drew unusual interest and orders came during its introduction. It was described as having “an opulent club-like leather trimmed interior.”
The Lagonda had the prestige of being the first production car in the world to use computer management and the first auto maker to install a digital instrument panel. Cathode ray tubes were used as well. The Lagonda, to me was a stunning saloon that took you by surprise. Its design was ahead of its time as I am sure that you can see the cars of today in the Lagonda’s silhouette. One journalist described the Lagonda’s appearance: “it looks as though it were living off of dinner mints and hot water.” Naughty. I looked at it as being a work of contemporary art. People back then wanted “fat” cars heavy-gas-guzzling cars. The Lagonda was lithe and muscular without an ounce of fat. Trim like an athlete, severe by all means, when the Lagonda was introduced we were still coming out of the “Ward & June Cleaver/Ozzie & Harriet Nelson Era!”
Series I was made only one year from 1974-1975. It was merely a long wheelbase variant of the Aston Martin V8. The Series I debuted at the 1974 London Motor Show. This was the first car to wear the ‘Lagonda’ name since the 1961 Rapide. Only seven units were sold. The power came from a 5.3 litre DOHC V8 producing 280 bhp with 408 Nm of torque. The Series I had a top speed of 149 mph going from 0-60 in 6.2 seconds. (don’t you dare!)
The Lagonda Series II had a new controversial wedge-shape. (be kind!) It was a striking new Lagonda that had innovative solid-state digital instrumentation. It was launched at the 1976 London Motor Show; however, deliveries didn’t begin until 1979. Production problems plagued this model. The Series II was fitted with technology that was at the time was “awkward” because it hadn’t existed in the real world long enough to refine such as Digital LED dashes with primitive touch-pad controls and gas plasma displays. The steering wheel mounted controls and gas plasma displays were dropped in 1980 due to the items being prone to failure. This Series sold for 49,933 GBP which was more than a Ferrari 400. This series was built from 1976-1985.
The Series II used a variant of the 5.3 litre DOHC V8. The engine now produced 280 bhp @ 5,000 rpm with 409 Nm @ 3,000 peak torque. The top speed was 143 mph going from 0-60 mph in 8.8 seconds. (Gasp!)
In 1983 five Series II Lagondas were upgraded with body kits and interiors. In 1984 four long wheelbase Lagondas were made as “Tickford Lagonda Limousines” at a price of 110,000 GBP each. The Tickford Lagonda was built in house at Aston Martin by their coach building division. These bespoke vehicles had high-end hi-fi systems (no one knew what current day surround-sound with DVD players or iPod Infotainment systems were back then!). They could be equipped with color TV both front & rear, video players and cocktail cabinets.
The Tickford Lagonda Limousine
The Series III Lagonda was made from 1986-1987. 75 Models were equipped with fuel injected engines. It originally had cathode ray tube instruments; later versions featured a vacuum fluorescent display
The Series IV Lagonda was introduced at the 1987 Geneva Motor Show. The Series IV had a significant freshening by William Towns. The car’s sharp edges were rounded off and the pop-up headlamps were replaced by an arrangement of triple lights. 105 Series IV Lagondas were built. The last car was produced during January of 1990.
A grand total of 645 Aston Martin Lagondas were built. It required 2,200 hours of manpower to build and only 25 were built per year for the US market. It will always hold a place in automotive history. It introduced technology that no other auto maker had done. It had highly extreme styling that either you liked it or hated it. Journalists have made rude comments about it and put it in such an ugly light. That is why I wanted to create a positive editorial to share with you. Regardless of what the others say…….it is still an Aston Martin!