(first posted 4/10/2015) The CC Cohort has been rather neglected of late; my apologies. But I just can’t resist this Aston Martin Lagonda posted by ramsesniblick. We’ve never done a proper look at what was, and still is one of the most polarizing cars of the modern era. And since I’m rushing off to the airport here in an hour, today won’t be the day either. But let’s at least stop and ponder it for a few minutes. Who can resist? Now if only I could get a Lagonda taxi to take me there.
The new Lagonda first appeared in 1976, replacing the previous version that was not much more than a lengthened DBS. But designer William Townes had been cooking up a radically wedge-shaped, knife-edge successor of the folded-paper origami school that was the new rage in the seventies. That style generally worked a bit more readily with the mid-engined sports cars of the time, like Giugiaro’s Lotus Esprit. On a large luxury sedan, it was a bit more problematic, especially when the front end tapered together from both above and below, as in the Lagonda. The drooping tail added to the challenges, as the idea of a continuous wedge ending in a very tall tail was probably just not ready for public consumption. Nowadays, it’s standard fare.
This is obviously a Series 2 or 3 Lagonda, which were built from 1976 – 1987.
The Series 4, launched in 1987, had clean flanks and a revised nose and other details, but by the mid 80s, everyone had long moved on to the aero-jelly bean look, and the Lagonda now looked as odd as it had in 1976. The origami school of design was not very long lived, like most.
I used to see these in LA back in the day, but needless to say, I don’t expect to encounter one curbside here. But I’ll keep an eye out, just in case.
Of course, there are issues – price, reliability, polarising looks, space, the digital dash. But in 1976, this was the future, and I still want one.
I’d take a series 1 – it was on my bedroom wall!
Could this be an Aston Martin Deadly Sin?Most owners burned shoe leather instead of rubber as early computers and Lucas electrics made for a temperamental car.I thought it was an ugly brute at the time though now it’s kind of interesting
I never warmed up to this particular Aston Martin. The front looks like a parody of a Volvo; the C pillar and rear wheel well resemble a Thunderbird. The overall proportions seem off. I think Aston Martin lost its way with this Lagonda.
A magnificent find, one of the ultimate production examples of wedge design, especially as applied to a sedan. I’ve seen several and they are extremely interesting but were well ahead of their time and very optimistic in regards to electronic tech. I think the mid-year ones look the best (like the subject car), by the end (last pic) they just look like they are trying too hard.
This would make a great villian car for a dystopian near-future sci-fi movie. Even now. Sinister!
Yes, I’d say this would have made a perfect 6000 SUX in Robocop.
Coolest looking sedan ever made
In high school, I worked with a guy whose parents had a V8 Volante. It didn’t have any of the Lagonda’s bleeding edge dashboard technology, yet it still rarely left their driveway under its own power. I can’t imagine how unreliable a Lagonda would have been.
That’s the first thing I thought. Wouldn’t be a bad thing to have as a backyard decoration but no way I’d rely on it to get me anywhere or waste money trying to keep it running..
To put it another way, I’d love to have a friend buy one. I’d never consider it myself.
I loved these when I was a kid, it was the closest thing to The Jetsons on the road in the 70s, especially the touch-screen dashboard.
A nice complement to a Lotus Esprit if you were a glutton for origami styling and British unreliability.
I looked up the Lagonda registry years ago and there was someone in Congo-Brazzaville who owned one. Imagine what a maintenance nightmare it would be in such a remote place.
I loved the look of these when, as a child, I saw them in the car magazines (Dad subscribed to C/D and R&T, and I eagerly drank up every page).
Through today’s eyes, though, the lines & proportions don’t really work for me. I guess they deserve credit for being bold.
I’m surprised any of these are still running, given the electrical gremlins that plagued them.
This is one of the few cars of its era that I have never, ever seen in person. Not on the road, not at the curb, at a car show, or anywhere else. I really doubted that these cars existed at all.
That said, I’m one of the few who liked the look of Lagondas, even after they started to look like a dated trend-of-the-past. One particularly neat (or overdone, depending on your view) aspect for me was the interior, with its odd one-spoke steering wheel and its heavily electronic dash. However, I imagine all the gadgets on the dash probably never functioned well when new on these cars, let alone 30 years later.
I read somewhere that developing the dashboard electronics cost more than the entire rest of the car.
A restorer who is handling one of these said that every one was different, in that the various components used for the electronics were off the shelf and were changed depending on what was available. Also the metal behind the dash was all hand formed and each was its own creation. Amazing car.
My understanding is that each car was “fitted” (like a suit is tailored) to the purchaser… They actually took your measurements before the car was built.
The early cars with the pop-up headlights and turn signals in the outboard foglamp nacelles are okay. The later ones with the turn signals in the bumper and six headlights look like a caricature, pretty much ruining the whole car.
The electronics, if they had been reliable, were far ahead of their time, even including touch-sensitive switchgear. It’s too bad they were so temperamental, particularly when the asking price was astronomical for the time (something around $36k in 1977 dollars).
Then there’s the styling. Personally, I like it (the first cars, anyway), but there were many who didn’t. Along with the poor reliability and high price, the polarizing styling managed to earn the Lagonda a place on many ‘worst cars ever built’ lists. Taken as a whole, I would have no problem with it being listed as a Deadly Sin.
Put me in the “hate it” camp, or at least the “don’t like it” camp, since actual hate may be a bit strong. I thought FoMoCo was the epicenter of overlong front overhang in the 1970s, but these folks took front overhang to extremes.
I could do an unreliable car that is beautiful. I could do an ugly car that is reliable. But I simply won’t do a car that is both unreliable and ugly.
I kinda like the exteriors of these and I absolutely love the interiors. Hard to believe they actually made this, it still looks wild today to my eyes.
This has to be the worst car that I love the most.
Imagine one of these with suicide, front-opening rear doors. Could it have been a direction Ford might have taken with the classic 1961 Lincoln Continental if brougham-ification hadn’t taken over American luxury car styling in the late sixties?
One of my dream cars as a boy although I’ve never seen one in person. If you search around online, you’ll find station wagon and strech limo versions of this car.
If only Apple had of done the electrics………..Oh wait!!!!!
How many times do them smart phones crash , again????
Nice find..I quite like them…It real weird to see how low the front is..I have never seen one in the metal either..Would love to.
Like others here, I think the early cars with their hidden headlights were soooo 70s. The later cars? not so much.
About the same time frame Rolls-Royce brought out their equally polarizing Camargue. Both cars could have been designed by teenagers in study hall.
I prefer the looks of the Lagonda, but it would have to be assembled (re-assembled) to Rolls-Royce standards.
I first saw the Lagonda in a picture book I got as a kid. I thought they were really neat looking. Then just a couple years ago I finally saw one “in the metal” at a classic car auction. That totally ruined it for me; these look much better in pictures than in real life.
I later saw another Lagonda on the road. It passed me going the other direction on a country highway. One of, if not THE, rarest vehicles I’ve ever seen driving on a public road.
I’ve always loved the Lagonda. The first time I saw one in person was in a cinema’s parking lot when we went to see Breakin’ — so 1984. I don’t remember anything about the movie but I remember everything about the car.
I SAW ONE IN CHESEA THE OTHER DAY …JUST BONKERS LOL ITS ONLY ABOUT THREE FOOT TALL .THIS WAS AN EARLY ONE …THE STYLING IS VERY LOGANS RUN…..I LIKE IT
It looks like a modded ’77-90 B-body, in a good way. Maybe swapping a complete ’80s Caprice dashboard in would be a good start to making a reliable car from it.
exactly… that’s what I thought the first time I saw a picture of one in a Motor Trend when they were new. a custom 77 Caprice.
Always loved the look of these. Can’t imagine ever being rich enough to attempt to keep one on the road.
Love it! Scrap the stock electrics put in a MegaSquirt ECU and a Dakota digital dash components and off you go. I hope!
This has been my desktop background for a while now. Legendary.
I admired the daring of the designers but the looks of the entire car made it feel like they were divided into a Front End Group, a Passenger Compartment Group, and a Rear End Group…and they only ever conversed by telephone, and pay phones at that, so they never could get a real conversation going before running out of coins.
Evel knievel apparently had one of these things.
To me this car still looks advanced and futuristic. I never thought it went out of style and find the crisp lines very refreshing after 25 years of the rounded look.
Something along these lines would be a nice direction for a Cadillac or Lincoln flagship. I’ve posted this pic before but here it is again, the concept for a next the Lagonda.
I like them, but I suspect that has to do with my age at the time I discovered them. I also liked the Countach, stickers on everything and graded a car’s desirability on the number of head and tail lights – the more the merrier.
Trying to look at it objectively today, it just doesn’t do it for me. But part of me is still six years old.
Thanks for using my photos, Paul! The registration database tells me that this car is a 1981 model which was imported in 2008 with 68,000 miles on the clock, and has only travelled 2,000 miles since then. That’s not surprising as I don’t think Astons were officially imported into NZ until the Ford/DB7 years. This Lagonda is regularly sitting curbside on one of Auckland’s nicer streets. I’ve seen it a couple of times, but I’m yet to see it in motion. It is parked outside a very tidy house with a similarly overt 80’s aesthetic as the car.
Personally, I’m quite fonda the Lagonda. Thirty odd years ago, it seemed the perfect antidote to the more stuffy RR product. It certainly had a more dynamic appearance, although I always thought a V12 might suit its character a little better. That said, I’d take a contemporary Vantage any day of the week.
The latest issue of the British car magazine OCTANE lists the Lagonda as one of the “classic cars that you should collect now”…..of course there were 68 other cars on their list.
Does anyone else see a late 80’s/early 90’s Chrysler New Yorker/ Dodge Dynasty when they look at this? (I loved these in Motor Trend back when they were in production, but ironically by 1989 you could have bought a New Yorker with essentially similar technonolgy and a neatly as-reliable reputation for a mere 18grand.
Man, this got me really interested in this car. After some browsing of YouTube it seems the biggest issue with the electronics on these is that the soldering corrodes. If you correct that they are fairly reliable. That’s according to anecdotal evidence so I’ll believe it. Because I want to. Unfortunately everyone seems to agree they are still a money pit.
I’d sure love to take a good example for a drive.
This one was spotted by me in the summer of 2012 just West of Toronto.
Lord Vader, your ground transportation is ready.
To me, the Series 2 and 3 Lagondas were the automotive version of poofy hair and shoulder pads-so “futuristic” that they dated themselves. The interior, especially, was also a weird mix of “ultra-futuristic” (especially the wheel) and Broughamtastic with all the wood trim. For the exterior, I think the lines are just off.
Its certainly a head turner, but more because its an oddity.
I remember seeing one of these cars near New Orleans about 10-15 years ago. It was parked outside a Barnes & Noble bookstore. To me, it seemed smaller in person than it appeared to be in all the car magazines.
You’d see all kinds of Rolls Royces around town, and one guy even took his ’56 Continental Mark II downtown once, but it’s madness to expose cars like these to the crazy drivers in their clapped out Fords & Chevies who could demolish them in a fender bender.
Came across this article today. That interior! That colour!
Though aware Aston Martin was constantly in financial trouble prior to being acquired by Ford, it is strange that apart from the Aston MGB prototype the marque never had a go at developing a smaller Aston Martin 2-seater sportscar when it is something they could have benefited from with hindsight.
Sure the post-war Aston Martin DB1 / 2-litre was nothing to write home about, yet a series of smaller Aston Martin sportscars powered by a range of engines including:
-1) A hypothetical 93-130 hp 1948cc 4-cylinder version of the Lagonda Straight-6 during the 1950s,
-2) Production version of the 151 hp 2447cc DP208 4-cylinder prototype derived from the 3.7-litre 6-cylinder DB4 engine, tested in a (reputedly Jensen-built) Volvo P1800 and allegedly even an Healey Sprite (with scope for a 2663cc version derived from the 4-litre DB5/DB6 engine). From late-1950s to early-1970s.
-3) A 2.25-litre+ 60-degree V6 derived from a properly developed version of the abandoned post-war Lagonda DP100 V12 from the 1950s used in the DP117 “Brown Bomber” prototype for what eventually became the Lagonda 3-litre.
-4) Less ideally a 90-degree V6 version of the Tadek Marek designed V8 from the late-1960s to early-1970s onwards, complemented by turbochargers or supercharger.
Aston Martin must have been exploring such ideas even if they were limited by what they could do financially, it just seems a shame they were not in a position to capitalize on such opportunities.
It is also said that TVR approached Aston Martin (along with a few others) about building the TVR Tina, though Aston Martin had their own issues at the time.
Let me paraphrase LJK Setright; he said something like “A Seville trying hard to look like a TR7” and I think he was spot on.
I’ve only ever seen one of these in the wild. About 30 years ago. Who was driving?
Evel Knievel. Or a guy who looked just like him with a Montana vanity plate “EK”
Yep, that was him…
Or was it “…trying to get into a TR7’s garage”?
I know somebody said that; not sure if it was LJKS,
I saw a video expose on this vehicle. Faults include rear passenger doors that do not open wide enough for easy ingress and egress, a digital readout on the dash that reads like a WWII radar screen, controls not clearly marked, if marked, controls in odd places. In short, great car for people to admire when you drive up to the country club in it. Just make sure that no one sees your rear passengers struggling to exit. Fun to look at it, though.
Too much brand new technology stuffed into this thing. Membrane switches were cool but seemed to only end up in microwaves or Sinclair computer keyboards. Based on all the writing about this car over the years it’s probably the one car to surpass Jaguar regarding very poor reliability. What I’d like to know is how many Lagonda buyers returned to Aston Martin for another purchase.
I saw one in the factory refurb shop in Newport Pagnell in the late (19) 90’s. One of the guys said that the interior and instruments were a bit of a challenge…
I was somewhere in my ‘thirties when I first saw this car in print; I felt about it as I did the ’37 Cord sedan at MoMA in 1951, aged nine: love at first sight. Today, like the Cord, I see the Lagonda with more jaded eyes. But the green one in the article linked by robadr brings the car into focus once more. A weak (or at least very dated) aspect of the body, namely the door windows, with their heavy surrounds and recessed glass, are dealt with nicely via contrasting paint (an original feature ?); the whole thing hangs together nicely, for me. Thanks for a fresh look at this modern classic.