Villa Erba

23 May 2015

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Lot 116

1939 Lagonda V-12 Drophead Coupé

  • Chassis no. 14062
  • Engine no. V12/109
  • Body no. 7542

Sold for €280.000


Est. 195 bhp, 4,480 cc SOHC V-12 engine, four-speed manual transmission, torsion bar independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,150 mm

  • W.O. Bentley’s engineering masterpiece
  • Exceptionally elegant styling
  • Long-term family ownership


Rare is the opportunity for an engineer to express all of his talents with few limitations, but W.O. Bentley was given the chance to do just that when he arrived at British automaker Lagonda in the late 1930s. He put together a V-12 that was composed of Cromidium, Dralumin, steel, aluminium, and phosphor-bronze, and every single component was tested so that it would perform flawlessly under any operating condition. It sat on a chassis that had independent front suspension and four-wheel hydraulic brakes, which greatly improved handling and stopping power.

A Lagonda V-12 with a closed body once covered a distance of 101.5 miles in one hour, which is an impressive figure for the time, and it is even more impressive when one considers that they had to stop and change a flat tyre midway. Two special-bodied V-12s finished 3rd and 4th overall (1st and 2nd in class) at Le Mans. The performance of the Lagonda V-12 astonished the world, and today, it is arguably the most desirable British grand tourer of its era, especially those in the factory’s beautiful, streamlined drophead coupé bodywork.

According to the Lagonda Club of Great Britain, the V-12 Drophead Coupé offered here was delivered new to James Scott and Son, of Dundee. It was finished in Gunmetal and fitted with an optional rear bumper. The Lagonda remained in the UK until 1964, at which point it was exported to Chicago, Illinois. By 1976, the V-12 had made its way to the western U.S., under the tenure of Worth Simpson of Craig, Colorado. It returned to the UK sometime thereafter, and in 1987, it was acquired by its current owner’s father—for the sum of £18,000—from the former firm of Porters of London. The Lagonda was destined for Sweden with its new custodian, and there it would remain until most recently.

Under its long-term family ownership, the Lagonda was part of a small collection of vintage cars, which included several W.O. Bentleys. The car remained as-acquired for some years, until the owner undertook a restoration with Renoverad hos Rohdins Automobil Service in Sweden, which took some 6,000 hours to complete and was finished in 2008. Since completion, the car has been seldom used but continuously registered and stored in a purpose-built heated garage. Currently, the car presents in excellent overall condition, and it is offered today from its long-time owner’s proud family to a new caretaker.

This is a sumptuous example of one of the finest British automobiles of its decade, and it is arguably the final masterpiece of one of the country’s most famous engineers.



Circa 195 cv, 4.480 cc, motore V-12 monoalbero a camme in testa, cambio a 4 rapporti, sospensioni anteriori a ruote indipendenti con barre di torsione, assale oscillante posteriore con balestre semi ellittiche, quattro freni a tamburo ad azionamento idraulico. Passo: 3.150 mm

• L’opera d’arte tecnica di W.O. Bentley
• Uno stile eccezionalmente elegante
• Proprietà di una sola famiglia per lungo tempo

E’ raro, per un ingegnere, poter esprimere tutto il suo talento senza vincoli e limitazioni ma, questa possibilità è stata offerta a W.O. Bentley quando è entrato a far parte della fabbrica inglese di automobili Lagonda, alla fine degli anni 30. E’ lì che è riuscito a realizzare un motore V-12 utilizzando composti metallici di altissimo livello come il Chromidium, Duralluminio, acciaio, alluminio e bronzo fosforoso, con ogni singolo componente testato per resistere senza cedimenti a qualsiasi condizione di impiego. Inoltre, poggiava su un telaio con le sospensioni anteriori a ruote indipendenti e quattro freni a tamburo ad azionamento idraulico, il che migliorava in modo notevole sia il comportamento stradale sia la rapidità di frenata.

Una Lagonda V-12, con carrozzeria chiusa, una volta ha coperto la distanza di 101,5 miglia (163 chilometri) in un’ora, un risultato stupefacente per l’epoca, ancora più incredibile considerando che la macchina si era dovuta fermare lungo il percorso di prova per sostituire un pneumatico bucato. Due V-12, dotate di carrozzeria speciale aperta, sono finite terze e quarte assolute (prime e seconde di classe) a Le Mans. Le prestazioni della Lagonda V-12 hanno stupito il mondo e, ancora oggi, rimane una delle più desiderabili vetture inglesi da gran turismo del periodo, soprattutto quando “vestita” con la carrozzeria aerodinamica cabriolet realizzata dalla stessa Lagonda.

Secondo quanto riportato dal Lagonda Club di Gran Bretagna, la V-12 Drophead Coupé proposta qui, fu consegnata nuova alla James Scott and Son, di Dundee. Dipinta in colore Gunmetal dotata di un paraurto posteriore che era un’optional, la Lagonda è rimasta in Gran Bretagna fino al 1964, prima di essere esportata a Chicago, Illinois. Nel 1976 questa Lagonda V-12 fu la proprietà di Worth Simpson da Craig, Colorado. Rientrata in Inghilterra qualche tempo dopo, nel 1987 è stata acquistata dal padre dell’attuale proprietario—per la somma di £ 18,000—presso l’allora attiva ditta Porters di Londra. La Lagonda, con il suo nuovo custode, sarebbe stata destinata a finire in Svezia, ed è esattamente lì che è rimasta fino a pochissimo tempo fa.

Durante questi molti anni di un’unica proprietà, la Lagonda ha fatto parte di una piccola collezione di auto d’epoca, tra cui numerose Bentley del periodo di W.O. La macchina è rimasta nello stato in cui si trovava al momento dell’acquisto per qualche anno, prima di venire sottoposta ad un restauro completo presso lo specialista svedese Renoverad hos Rohdins Automobil Service, che ha impiegato qualcosa come 6.000 ore per finire il progetto, terminato nel 2008. Dalla fine del restauro, la macchina è stata usata raramente, pur rimanendo sempre targata e pronta a circolare, e conservata all’interno di un garage riscaldato costruito appositamente per questo scopo. Attualmente la macchina si presenta in eccellenti condizioni generali, e viene offerta dalla famiglia dell’orgoglioso proprietario che l’ha avuta per così tanti anni, ad un nuovo custode.

Questo è un meraviglioso esempio di una delle migliori autovetture inglesi del periodo, ed è indiscutibilmente, l’opera finale di uno degli ingegneri inglesi più famosi.

Addendum

Please note that since publishing the printed catalogue the Lagonda Club has kindly provided us with additional information for this car. As such, further detail regarding the production record as well as the ownership history is available for review on file. Furthermore, the car will include a CD of photos documenting the restoration.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more