1939 Lagonda V-12 Drophead Coupe
$375,000 - $475,000
- A well-known West Coast Lagonda, offered for the first time in 25 years
- Formerly owned by William J. Hodges
- Original, elegant factory coachwork
- W.O. Bentley’s foremost engineering masterpiece
Rare is the opportunity for an engineer to express all of his talents with few limitations, but W.O. Bentley was given the chance to do just that when he arrived at British automaker Lagonda in 1933. His first order of business was to achieve the full potential of the firm’s existing 4½-liter, six-cylinder Meadows-engined cars, and in 1935, he achieved an unprecedented 1st, 2nd, and 3rd clean sweep at Le Mans.
Meanwhile, he was at work on his masterpiece: a completely new design for a 4½-liter V-12 that was composed of chromidium, duralumin, steel, aluminum, and phosphor-bronze, with every single component tested so that it would perform flawlessly under any operating condition. This superb new engine made its debut toward the end of 1937 upon a chassis that had independent front suspension and four-wheel hydraulic brakes, which greatly improved handling and stopping power. The performance of the Lagonda V-12, including 1st and 2nd in class at Le Mans, was outstanding, and today, it is arguably the most desirable British grand tourer of its era, especially in the factory’s beautiful, streamlined drophead coupe bodywork.
A CALIFORNIA LAGONDA
According to the records of Lagonda Club Ltd., chassis number 14054 was originally finished in Valspar Jewelescent Grey with Grey trim and delivered to its original showroom on December 7, 1938, wearing the beautiful factory drophead coupe coachwork that it continues to wear today. A factory guarantee was issued on March 3, 1939, marking the original date of sale to R.S. Loewenstein, of Pinfold Stables in Leicestershire, who registered the car as FLM 700.
Mr. Loewenstein apparently had little time to enjoy his new car, which was laid up in 1940 due to World War II. It was acquired on June 14, 1946, by the second owner, Ron Galway, of Berkeley Square, London, for whom it was serviced by Lagonda on August 7 of that year, recording 7,329 miles at the time.
The next known ownership of the Lagonda is in the February 1956 edition of Motor Sport magazine, when it was advertised for sale by Performance Cars, of Brentford. It was apparently exported stateside not long afterward, and in November 1958, it was acquired by William J. Hodges, of Los Angeles. An early and long-time West Coast member of the Classic Car Club of America, Mr. Hodges retained his V-12 Lagonda for nearly 30 years; photographs in the Lagonda Club file show it licensed in California as NLE 939.
Mr. Hodges finally parted with his prized automobile in May 1988, selling it to the current East Coast owner, who notes that it was rebuilt mechanically by well-respected firm Motive Parts Corporation, of Port Washington, New York. The bodywork was stripped to bare metal and properly refinished in British Racing Green by employees of his local Ferrari dealership. During his own quarter-century ownership, the owner has looked after the car correctly, with the car receiving maintenance by trusted local vintage car mechanics and being driven regularly during good weather. It has seldom been shown, however, and its offering at Monterey marks its reintroduction to the familiar California CCCA community after many years of absence.
Well kept but not over-restored, this is a charmingly honest V-12 Lagonda, ideal for continued enjoyment in the fashion that W.O. Bentley would have desired.