A very special classic for sale at the next H&H Classics
auction at the Imperial War Museum Duxford on May 26th is this magnificent 85-year-old survivor, for sale at an estimate of £140,000 to £160,000. The 1935 Lagonda M45 Rapide was claimed to achieve a top speed of 163 km/h or 101 mph.
One of just 53 M45 Rapide cars built this beauty was supplied new by Warwick Wright Ltd of New Bond Street to H. Garside Esq of The Waldorf Hotel, London WC2.
Shortly after the M45's introduction, The Autocar got its hands on one and commented - "A short run on one of the first of the 4½-Litre Lagonda models, with an open four-seater body, left a vivid impression not only of brilliant acceleration and sheer performance, but of a car delightfully silent and easy running in a way that can be achieved to the fullest extent only by a big-engined machine working well inside its limits".
H&H have been chosen to bring this rare British coachbuilt droptop to market, consigned from the estate of the late logistics entrepreneur Keith Boardall. Operating 24/7, Keiths 180-strong fleet of Reed Boardall liveried trucks move an average of 12,000 pallets a day, operating from a single 50 acre site in Yorkshire - the largest of its kind in Europe.
This 1935 Lagonda M45 Rapide Three Position Drophead with coupe coachwork by Freestone & Webb was despatched from Lagondas Staines Works to the neighbouring Freestone and Webb coachbuilders of Willesden, chassis Z11149 was sold through Warwick Wright Ltd of Bond Street and first registered to a Mr H. Garside Esq - a permanent resident of the prestigious Waldorf Hotel in London's West End. Covering some 13,580 miles during the first seventeen months of his ownership, it was later exported to Canada in 1963. The car returned home to British soil in 1989, subsequently selling via Brooks Auctioneers into the hands of Simon Carrell Esq - the car's penultimate custodian. In 1999, Z11149 was prepared for the Lagonda Club's Alpine Rally and completed the 2000-mile tour, including many mountain passes without drama.
Peter Whenman affectionately described 'BYU 647' in 2001 as follows - "Vintage Coachworks regularly uses the car and has found it to be a most reliable car, which motors and handles exceedingly well. This is indeed a very original Lagonda, in excellent condition and makes a fine continental touring car."
Purchased by Keith Boardall in October 2001, the car has seen sparing use over the last two decades but is now ready for the next chapter of its life.
This fine example was a resident in Canada by the mid-1960s and a First Prize Winner at a Classic Car Club of America National Competition two decades later it was repatriated during 1989 and successfully completed the Lagonda Club's 2,000-mile Alpine Rally in 1999.
The 4½-Litre Lagonda was one of the most accomplished sports cars of the 1930s, as a succession of high-profile race wins, culminating in victory at Le Mans in 1935, amply demonstrates. Having established its reputation by winning the Moscow - St Petersburg Reliability Trial of 1910 with a 30hp six, Lagonda had concentrated mainly on the production of light cars before reverting to sporting and luxury models in the mid-1920s with the introduction of the 14/60.
This four-cylinder, 2-litre model was joined in 1929 by the first of Lagonda's own sixes - the 3-Litre - but by the mid-1930s the Meadows-engined cars were seen as the way forward. Introduced at the 1933 Olympia Show and based on the preceding ZM 3-Litre model, the M45 deployed Meadows' 4½-litre, twin-plug six to good effect, saloons being capable of reaching 90mph and tourers the 'ton' under favourable conditions.
A team of three specially prepared short-chassis cars (effectively the soon-to-be-announced M45 Rapide) prepared by Lagonda main agents Fox & Nicholls performed creditably at the 1934 RAC Tourist Trophy at Ards, and the following year one of these TT cars driven by John Hindmarsh and Luis Fontes won the Le Mans 24-Hour endurance classic outright.
The Rapide version of the M45 boasted a lighter chassis (10ft 3in wheelbase), uprated engine (RR50 alloy crankcase, Scintilla magneto, stronger connecting rods and larger crankshaft bearings) and more powerful Girling brakes plus a freewheel device for the transmission. Considerably more expensive than its standard sibling at £825, the Rapide accounted for just 53 sales making it particularly sought after today.
The bodywork is finished in silver with a dark blue bonnet, wings and boot. Arnold Davey suggests in a letter on file that photographs show "the car was originally one single dark colour until in Bauer's ownership, when the two-tone finish appears." The interior is trimmed in airforce blue leather with dark blue carpets. The dashboard and surrounding wooden trim are all in very good condition and are complemented by all the correct factory instrumentation. The car has a spacious boot, with concealed factory toolkit beneath a trap door.
In 1999, the car was prepared for the Lagonda Club's Alpine Rally and completed the 2000-mile tour, including many mountain passes without drama. Work carried out at this time included the rebuilding of the gearbox with new gears and bearings, a Borg and Beck clutch conversion and new radiator core. In October 2001, Peter Whenman affectionately described BYU 647 as follows - "Vintage Coachworks regularly uses the car and has found it to be a most reliable car, which motors and handles exceedingly well. This is indeed a very original Lagonda, in excellent condition and makes a fine continental touring car." Purchased by the vendor's late father in October 2001, the car has seen sparing use over the last two decades. Stored within a heated garage facility at his Harrogate home throughout this period, the car is now ready for the next chapter of its life. Equally suited to a relaxing drive in the UK countryside, but light and powerful enough to make it a serious contender for continental and long-distance rallying (in absolute style and comfort, of course!).
Retaining its original stylish and functional open three-position drophead coachwork, this rare and highly desirable M45 Rapide is a true Post Vintage Thoroughbred. Regarded by many to be the ultimate sporting Lagonda, 'BYU 647' is offered for sale with a current UK V5c registration document and history file containing much correspondence with Arnold Davey, Peter Whenman and former custodian Simon Carrell.