Lagonda LG45 Rapide Nicholl

Car producer : 



LG45 Rapide Nicholl





Lagonda was founded as a company in 1906 in Staines, Middlesex, by an American, Wilbur Gunn (1859–1920), a former opera singer of Scottish ancestry. He named the company after Lagonda Creek near Springfield, Ohio, the town of his birth. He had originally built motorcycles on a small scale in the garden of his house in Staines with reasonable success including a win on the 1905 London–Edinburgh trial. In 1907 he launched his first car, the 20 hp, 6-cylinder Torpedo, which he used to win the Moscow–St. Petersburg trial of 1910. This success produced a healthy order for exports to Russia which continued until 1914. In 1913 Lagonda introduced an advanced small car, the 11.1 with a four-cylinder 1099 cc engine, which by 1914 featured a panhard rod and a rivetted monocoque body and the first ever fly-off handbrake.

At the 1933 London Motor Show two important new Lagonda models were unveiled: the 1,104cc Rapier with twin-overhead camshaft engine and the 4½-litre M45 which employed an overhead-valve six-cylinder proprietary engine, manufactured by Meadows. Here at last was a Lagonda sports car which was capable of genuinely high performance, not only by the standards of the time, but enduringly so even today.

In 1935, two additional models were also introduced. Both shared the same shorter, lighter chassis frame and were entitled the 4½-litre Rapide and the 3½-litre. Unfortunately, this multiplicity of models added to the company's post-Depression financial problems, and even the notable victory in the 1935 Le Mans 24-Hour Race came too late to save the company from collapse. It looked as if Lagonda was about to absorbed by Rolls-Royce, as had Bentley Motors, but that summer it was rescued by entrepreneur Alan Good, who appointed the revered W. O. Bentley himself as new chief designer.

'W.O.' took Lagonda straight into the luxury car market in 1936 with the new LG45 model. It featured longer springs and Luvax dampers, while retaining the successful and well-proven M45-model Meadows six-cylinder engine and chassis. Bentley also directed his attention to improving the proprietary engine, and his modifications emerged in the 'Sanction III' power units introduced at the London Motor Show that very same year.

It was against this background that special competition variants of the LG45 had been tailor-made at Staines Bridge for the Lagonda company's experienced and battle-hardened quasi-works racing team, Fox & Nicholl Limited, of Tolworth, Surrey.

Arthur Fox and Bob Nicholl were Lagonda specialists, whose sizable business had been preparing and racing Lagonda cars since as early as 1927. Fox had persuaded the Lagonda company to support his team's competition activities and in 1929 he and Nicholl ran a flotilla of four 2-litre cars in both the Irish Grand Prix and RAC Tourist Trophy races. He rapidly established himself as a meticulous preparer of competition Lagondas, and he was never slow in improving upon the factory specification if he perceived any possible advantage.

For 1936 the manufacturers' production department at Staines Bridge built four competition cars specifically for Fox and Nicholl. This quartet comprised two four-seaters, bodied to comply with Le Mans 24-Hour regulation requirements, and two two-seaters. It was completed in May 1936 and entered by the team for that year's 24 Hour race at Le Mans, which was unfortunately cancelled due to strikes in France.

Sold for: 1569500 EUR
Go to restoration
See other models

You may also like these cars

to top