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Oct / Nov 2014
Back on Track

WRITER: Kevin Hackett

Remember the Aston Lagonda from over a decade ago? Well, the distinctively wedge-shaped saloon is making a comeback and it’s looking better than ever. What’s more, it’s being made specially for us.


When it comes to purchasing an automobile that’s truly unique, your options are normally limited to a choice of trim, colour, upholstery and maybe some tweaking, to give the engine more power than standard. Of course, if your pockets really are deep, you could probably have a word with Ferrari and have a one-off supercar built on the platform of an existing model. But if you really must have something that others don’t, the new Aston might be just up your street.

At long last, Aston Martin is reviving the Lagonda marque although in a sense, it never really went away because since 1947, when David Brown bought both brands, the company’s full name has actually been Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. Unlike Aston Martin, Lagonda has American roots, having been founded in 1906 by Wilbur Gunn, a businessman who named his company after Ohio’s Lagonda Creek.

During the first half of the 20th century, Lagondas were known for being rare, fast, desirable and glamorous cars that appealed to the most discerning and wealthy motorists.

Under Aston Martin ownership, the Lagonda name continued, albeit sporadically, to be applied to the rarest, most special of its models. Undoubtedly, the most famous of them all was the William Towns-designed Lagonda of 1976, an enormous, wedge-shaped saloon car that, to this day, looks like nothing else ever built. Hugely expensive to buy and to run, it was nevertheless a hit in the Middle East, where the majority ended up being sold and where they still enjoy an enthusiastic following to this day.

Discontinued in 1990 after only 650 were produced (at an average rate of just one a week), the Lagonda name languished until 2009, when a concept car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. Universally panned as ugly and not befitting the brand, the SUV quickly disappeared and, along with it, one of the most storied names in the motoring world.

Now, it’s back and, if Aston Martin has its way, it’s here to stay. At least, if you’re based in the Lagonda stronghold that is the Middle East.

Currently undergoing hot weather testing in Oman, a new Lagonda is readying for its debut as a region-specific model – surely a first in the luxury automobile sector. Anyone who’s been complaining about Aston Martins all looking the same these days should prepare themselves for a shock because this Lagonda, much like its forebearers, looks like nothing else out there.

“I’m not a retro designer,” quips the marque’s design chief, Marek Reichman. “The new Lagonda had to be striking and unique, without looking back on past glories and while you might be able to see the occasional hint of the Towns car in its proportions and in some of its detailing, you could never accuse the new one of being a pastiche.”

He’s right, of course. If you look carefully at the rear C-pillar, there’s some similarity but that’s about it. Reichman is obviously a fan of the previous wedge, though. “There was nothing like it before, there’s been nothing like it since and it’s a real privilege to be in charge of designing a Lagonda for a new audience, especially for the Middle East, which still has huge amounts of affection for Towns’ version,” Reichman adds.

As the new model undergoes its punitive testing regimes in Oman’s furnace-like environs, it does so undisguised – unusual for a pre-production prototype but Aston Martin tends to be less secretive about its upcoming models than most. And Reichman says it’s been getting plenty of the right kind of attention.

Contrary to reports elsewhere, however, he says the new Lagonda is much, much more than a re-bodied Aston Martin Rapide - itself named after an old Lagonda model. “This car has been designed from the ground up after we’ve considered the demands from our Middle East customers. And yes, we’ve utilised our VH platform because it’s such a flexible basis for our cars but the Lagonda has been tuned specifically for a market that wants more than just a sports car. This car will be as comfortable as a limousine.”

Reichman adds that the Lagonda is a project every bit as special as the One-77 and it’s being produced by the company’s recently launched Q section, which caters for the bespoke demands of its most obsessive clients. “Every panel on the Lagonda is hand-formed from carbon fibre,” he continues. “And I can’t think of another five metre-long car in the world where that’s the case. There’s no doubt this car is extremely special.”

Indeed it is and if you’re wondering how much it will cost, you’ll have to keep guessing. The maker is keeping production numbers and pricing closely guarded secrets but it’s bound to be at least as expensive as the 1.7 million USD One-77.

In the market for an exclusive, ultra-luxurious form of executive travel? In some ways, the new Lagonda could be viewed as a Learjet for the road – exquisite in its design, painstaking in its execution and desirable to the extreme. Better yet, unlike that aforementioned aircraft, this one’s being made just for us.

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