The Aston Martin Lagonda was without doubt THE star of the 1976 Motor Show at Earls Court in London and was featured on the cover of very many motoring magazines worldwide. The first prototype saloon was engineered by a team under Mike Loasby in a quite remarkable nine months from styling drawings to Motor Show concept car. As well as the aerodynamic wedge shape, the Lagonda was yet more remarkable for its unique electronic instrumentation and switchgear, developed at the Cranfield Institute of Technology . This had been greatly influenced by AML director and shareholder, Peter Sprague who was also deeply involved with National Semiconductor in the US. Mike Loasby had visited the headquarters of National Semiconductor in California and became enamoured with the touch sensitive switches in the elevators. As it happened, the production cars had a totally redesigned computer and instrumentation developed and built in the USA by the Javelina Corporation.
In fact, the prototype, L/13001/R, was at the time a complete non-runner; footage shot by the BBC at the time showing the car moving was actually the car coasting down a hill under gravity. The Lagonda followed the classic 1970’s trend of wedge styling with low bonnet line and sharp creases. Pop up lights as already seen in such sports cars as the Ferrari 308, Lotus Esprit, Triumph TR7 and Lamborghini Countach were another feature. The Lagonda had become perhaps the ultimate expression of the school of ‘folded paper’ design but with 4 doors and genuine 4 seater accommodation; low slung and obviously aerodynamic yet spacious and comfortable too. To owners and enthusiasts, it’s simply known as ‘the wedge’.
Sadly the prototype car was broken up by the factory around 1979 which is a bit of a shame as it would be considered as the jewel in the crown of any classic Aston Martin collection. Press images or that car shown here were almost certainly taken by factory photographer, Roger Stowers and are used with the kind assistance of the Aston Martin Heritage Trust.
Another famous pre-production Lagonda was LOOR/13008, purchased by Lady Tavistock for her husband as a wedding anniversary gift. Whilst 13008 was considered as the first production car, it was still not really fully road ready for His Lordship. Sadly the car had embarrassingly broken down just before being presented to the press in April of 1978 at the family home of Lord and Lady Tavistock, Woburn Abbey.
This, perhaps the most famous of Lagonda’s is now fully working, restored and back at home in the UK.