Aston Martin Lagonda Rapide
A Luxury Sporting Saloon
Certain defining characteristics put the Rapide in a class above its two door Aston Martin cousins. Whereas the DB4 and 5 were built as sports coupes and clearly aimed at that market, the Rapide epitomised the early 60’s luxury saloon car and was built and priced at the same level as Rolls Royce and Bentley.
The interior was a good example of a then modern bespoke hand-made luxury product. The old English walnut facia dash-board is bedazzled with a multitude of instruments, including speedometer, electronic rev-counter, water temperature, fuel gauge, a clock and four electric window buttons and the infamous bonnet release catch. As if that wasn’t enough there is a decent fan heater unit with controls for front left and right and also to the rear passenger foot well and back window. Below the dash-board there is a Motorola radio, speaker balance switch and choke adjustment to aid car starting.
Aston Martin used the finest Connolly leather hides for the Rapides upholstery, generally taking between 7-8 skins per car. Front seat rake is controlled using high quality chrome adjustable Keiper hinges whilst horizontal movement is controlled with Leveroll sliders. Serving the rear passengers are very fine folding walnut veneered picnic tables, a few customers had this feature omitted and instead opted for sculpted seat backs to allow more space for rear passengers. The rear seat with side bolsters and central drop down armrest gives comfortable seating for three.
The Connolly hide covered door cards support neat pleated arm rests with integral chrome ash trays. The front door panels have storage compartments while the rear doors also have chrome ash trays, and Bakelite electric window switches.
The head lining in many cars was high quality West of England cloth, whilst a smaller number had perforated vinyl instead. Wilton carpets were all edge stitched with matching leatherette trim and underneath a generous layer of inch thick felt insulated the incumbents from noise.
Some cars were originally equipped with Britax seat-belts in the front; these were anchored to the steel floor and to the insides of the B-pillars. This does not appear to have been a standard option and was probably an extra fitted by the factory. Other options seen have included chrome front seat rails, an early car immobiliser fitted by the works and on some cars the Motorola radio had ‘Lagonda’ illuminated on the facia.
Rapides were fitted with high quality Yale door, glove box, boot and ignition locks, as well as a battery isolator switch, located underneath the rear bench seat, this gave a high degree of security for a car of this period.
The car boot can only be described as voluminous, with plenty of space to store several good sized suitcases (of which Lagonda branded cases were available), and of course space for a nice brace of shot-guns for the weekend away.