Lagonda LG45 Rapide Sports Tourer
While Lagonda achieved great success with the 1933 introduction of its 4.5-litre M45 model, followed by a win at Le Mans in 1935 and the release of the highly acclaimed Rapier light car, sales declined due to the new 30 mph speed limit imposed across Britain. Nevertheless, no fewer than six different Lagonda models were available at this time. The company was clearly overstretched, and it was eventually forced to declare bankruptcy.
Salvation came in the form of Alan Good. The company was reorganized and reformed as LG Motors, and the legendary W.O. Bentley joined the company. His first task was to update the M45, with the effort culminating in the LG45. Important changes included softer springing and the use of Girling brakes. Two chassis lengths and four engine choices were offered, with 278 examples ultimately manufactured.
Without question, though, the most spectacular of all the various LG45 models was the Rapide. Only 25 were made in total, and for many marque enthusiasts, it remains the epitome of a 1930s British sports-tourer. The only body style to be offered was a rakish and lightweight four-seat touring body with styling cues including cutaway doors, fixed cycle-type wings and dramatic chromed external exhausts. Mechanical changes included a higher compression ratio and higher rear-end gearing, which converted the Rapide’s increased power output into a higher top speed.
With the Rapide, Lagonda won the 500-mile endurance race at the Brooklands circuit, beating Bentley in the process. The Rapide was a genuine 100 mph car, proven by testers from The Motor to achieve a startling 108 mph in 1937. A tremendous achievement in those days!
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2010 at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.
130 bhp, 4,453 cc inline six-cylinder engine with overhead-valves and "Rapide" high-compression specification, dual SU carburettors, Meadows four-speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on third and top gears, and four-wheel Girling mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,279 mm (129.1")
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright ACME Photo and Jason Ruth