Elegant and Sophisticated Bespoke Coachwork by James Young. Pebble Beach Best in Class Winner with an Exemplary Restoration by the Experts at Auto Restorations of Chistchurch, New Zealand.
1939 Lagonda V12 Rapide Drophead
Coachwork by James Young
Chassis Number 14107, Engine Number 14107
Dark Green with Tan Leather Interior
Among the most celebrated and historically important motorcars, Lagonda stands as a critical motoring marque of engineering excellence and performance. Combining the design brilliance of the Art Deco era that culminated at the end of the 1930s, with the remarkable Walter Owen Bentley developed V12 engine, the Lagonda Rapide is considered among the finest and most elegant prewar cars ever developed.
The impressive and stately 60 degree angle V12 engine was developed as an outgrowth of Lagonda’s Le Mans victory in 1935 and the direct result of W. O. Bentley having become Technical Director after the sale of the company bearing his name to Rolls Royce. This combination allowed the V12 to advance the Lagonda name even further as a prestige brand, in part due to the combined massive power and precision offered in the new engine. The Lagonda was nothing short of a world class automobile, one that offered top clientele a refined and exceptional road car. 190 Lagondas were constructed between 1938 and 1940 with a mere 17 treated to the distinct Rapide performance enhancements.
This particular example is the only Lagonda Rapide Drophead commissioned with James Young coachwork. In addition to having been delivered from the factory with the Rapide designation, this car was factory equipped with Le Mans competition specified “Sanction IV” engine modifications. According to the build sheet for this car, chassis 14107 was constructed with special instructions including “No Bonnet; No Headlights; ‘Lo’ Radiator Shell; No front wing assembly.” On October 25, 1939, the 124” short wheelbase chassis was delivered to James Young Ltd, Bromley, Kent, to be fitted with custom alloy coachwork. The elegant James Young design featured a rear mounted covered spare tire, gently V shaped twin pane windscreen, blended front fender turn indicators, and covered rear wheel spats with distinctive Art Deco scalloping.
Upon completion of the alloy coachwork, the car was sold to the first owner, Major Godfrey Anthony Gillson of Cornwell Manor. Following his passing in 1944, the car was acquired by Lagonda’s former factory manager Jim Davies. In 1957, Lagonda expert and multiple Lagonda owner Jim Whitehead of Australia purchased the car for his personal collection. During the remarkable 58 year period of the Whitehead family ownership, this Lagonda Rapide was given fitting care before being sold to the current owner in 2015. Given the original condition and unique nature of the car, the owner elected to commission a top-level restoration, engaging experts at Auto Restorations of Chistchurch, New Zealand to complete the task. The restoration took two years to complete, making every effort to preserve and restore the original mechanical components, unique trim, and handmade alloy coachwork. The results of the restoration were duly rewarded in 2018 when this beautiful Lagonda Rapide flawlessly completed the Tour d’Elegance at Pebble Beach, days later was awarded First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Today this elegant and stately Lagonda Rapide delivers a commanding presence, exemplary restoration, and mechanical excellence throughout. The beautifully designed and unique James Young coachwork has been exquisitely restored featuring flowing fenders, Art Deco trim, dramatically scalloped rear fenders, streamlined trunk line, and a perfectly trimmed convertible roofline; gorgeously tailored, even in the up position. The elegant dark green paint captures the fluid forms of the alloy coachwork with exceptional reflection lines, particularly so given the dark hue. The finish displays excellent gloss and superb bodylines, accented by beautiful trim, reflective of the design excellence of the period. The flowing fender line is perfectly suited to the full alloy wheel covers, which have been polished to a fitting luster. Chrome trim, lighting, and various other polished elements glisten as wonderful bits of exterior jewelry, enhancing the elegant body design.
The interior is breathtaking in every respect, revealing the finest Connolly leather upholstery, burled walnut veneered finishes, and tasteful door panels, all accurately restored to the highest standards. The interior is not only elegant and impeccably trimmed, it is completed with a sense of artistry and refinement that only true artisans of this craft can achieve. Seam lines, piping, corner folds, and stitching are remarkably tailored to the highest standard. The headliner for the convertible top is so perfectly fit, that it appears to have an interior finish consistent with hardtop construction. The machined interior details, instrument presentation, rich lacquered wood finishes, and jeweled sculptural accents deliver a combination of sporting elegance and opulence – not only is the entire car an ambassador to the Art Deco period, it is one of unprecedented engineering, combined with the excellence of contemporary restoration artistry.
Unlatching the chrome levers on each side of the centrally hinged hood, the magnificent 4,480 cc overhead cam V12 engine reveals a delight of engineering, complete with four SU downdraft carburetors, and elegantly crafted details. The Sanction IV engine, rarely seen with the four carburetors, is a wonder of mechanical excellence offering quite a surprise when viewing under the hood. The original matching numbers engine has a beautiful presence enhanced by polished finishes, mechanical details, and refined craftsmanship. The engine compartment visually embodies the power and precision so thoughtfully executed in the W.O. Bentley design, celebrated by the exceptional restoration. Handsomely restored, the engine now exhibits lightly toned components conveying the integrity representative of a car that has been lovingly enjoyed, yet remains poised for a future concours victory.
The car starts easily and delivers wonderfully warm, mechanical sounds with a gentle, precise idle. The 200 hp engine benefits from the four carburetor Sanction IV factory specifications offering a hearty roar, when prompted. The manual gearbox is easily engaged, allowing this impressive automobile to pull very well while delivering a smooth and noble classic ride. Under higher speeds, the ride is quite refined, enhanced by excellent visibility, sporting but comfortable seating position and minimal wind buffeting when the top is down. For those unfamiliar with prewar cars, braking and gear selection requires some familiarization but after a few glorious miles, the result is an unmistakable driving experience.
Beautifully composed and exquisitely constructed with one of the most stunning coachbuilt alloy bodies of the Art Deco period, this Lagonda Rapide V12 Drophead delivers all the majesty and elegance of this revered marque. This phenomenal expression of restoration artistry, mechanical mastery, and coachbuilt excellence is ready for its next world-class concours, touring event, or simply to enjoy as a stunning work of sculptural art.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
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