Aston Martin Lagonda Rapide
From the early days of buying Lagonda in the late 1940’s David Brown had an intimate understanding and love of what the Lagonda marque meant. It is primarily because of him that the factory offered the Rapide Saloon despite getting in the way of DB4 production.
It is likely that Rapides were made in small batches, rather than as one off cars, no doubt due to the high price and special order status of the car, many of David Brown’s friends amongst the great and the good ordered these bespoke luxury automobiles.
David Brown had a special ifinity for the 'woody' estate / shooting brake versions of the 2.6 litre Lagondas which AML had used as tender vehicles for the racing team in the 1950s. He envisaged a more stylish version of the concept for the Rapide and commissioned designs be drawn up by Touring of Milan. However, the Rapide was not a volume seller in the way the DB4 and DB5 were, so any potential market for a shooting brake would have been small, perhaps only a few cars and possibly a commercial failure.
It should also be borne in mind that John Wyer, who was at that time General Manager at AML, was against the whole Lagonda project. He regarded it, with some justification, as diverting scarce resources from the main business of developing and selling the much more marketable DB4 and DB5 on the back of the James Bond films.
For many years the shooting brake drawings had not been seen until one day they turned up in an eBay auction along with other drawings and auto memorabilia. The gentleman who bought these drawings then aquired a fine 1962 Rapide and decided to see the the project through. During 2005-06 Rapide LR107R underwent a total transformation at the hands of Carrosserie Company (UK) Ltd of Barnard Castle, County Durham.
The framework of the modified bodywork was made with exactly the same superleggera construction as the rest of the car and clothed in aluminium of the same gauge. The boot lid was cut down and the rear section formed the lower part of the tailgate, thus retaining the family resemblance to the saloon. The rear seat folds down (the rear heater unit normally located beneath the parcel shelf is relocated beneath the squab) providing a generous load area. Its owner’s overriding desire was to produce a car that would be both practical and pleasant to use on a daily basis. This has been achieved at a cost of more than £100,000 and includes a complete interior re-trim in grey leather and new carpets.
The car has attracted significant interest in Aston Martin and Lagonda circles. There have been articles about the car in Aston Martin Quarterly, Lagonda Club Magazine and Classic & Sportscar (Dec ‘07). The general consensus is that the result is a magnificent vehicle, very capable of delivering the high speed touring envisaged by Sir David Brown, and equally at home in the paddock at Goodwood, at a polo match, at Twickenham or on a shoot.
The car is both elegant and distinctive and still manages to carry through the lines of the Rapide saloon. Clearly one to add to any collection of fine cars, along with a Rapide saloon of course.
Technical Review 2 - Rapide Shooting Brake