(first posted 10/11/2015)
Can you say Wedge-Shape?
From R&T’s April 1979 issue. Read on:
I’ve heard of this car, but I’ve never seen one in person. I’ve always found it attractive from the front and the side, but hideous looking, at the rear of the car.
The body shape is by English auto designer William Towns, who also did the shape of the late 1960’s Hillman Minx – some contrast although you can see they are by the same pen.
Personally I prefer the look of the Hillman.
Really? I see one everyday, must get it towed to the scrapyard soon
Always loved the look of the ’67 Hillman Hunter – the round headlights – and the first year of the slant 1725 engine. It sounded cool, and was quick at 9.3 seconds to 50 mph (when the Cortina took half as long again in standard Kent 1.6 form) …was a kid of 15 with a new licence and desperate to get behind the wheel of a Hunter and enjoy that 4 speed floor change (all NZ Cortinas back then were column shift) but Dad didn’t groove on Rootes Group ever since he got lumbered back in the fifities with a 4 cylinder Hawk as a company car (uuurrrgh/SLOW!!!) So, anyway, still to this day I have never driven a Hunter . . . .
…but the connection visually with a Lagonda seems to elude me really (huh)
Hunter fan here, Mr Watkins my favourite music teacher had a red GT(or was it GLS?) with twin Webers and Rostyle wheels
UK would have been a GLS the Aussies developed the GT after Andrew Cowan won the London to Sydney marathon nobody was more surprised than Rootes Australia and their GT and subsequent down scale Hustler were their marketing response to cash in on the free publicity, Andrew Cowan went on to wipe the floor with the hot rally prepped Escorts in the Heatway NZ rally driving a Hillman Avenger that had the special extra long pinion fitted the same that was fitted to his winning Hunter from the South African parts bin.
They may have been “penned” by different people but this Lagonda puts me in mind of a TR7 hardtop coupe.
Great looking car and much better than most new cars seen today. The trunk (boot) looks small though. I don’t think you could get more than a couple large suit cases in there.
Aston’s styling at this point was very odd. Even the DB series cars were very strange looking. I had pretty much liked the Mustang looking V8 and the earlier cars are classics. I guess they were looking for a new direction. I actually saw one of these on a high end used car lot about 10 years after their release. Very, very angular. Obviously the industry didn’t follow in that direction though it kind of reminded me of a later big Volvo. I got to sit inside and the seats and other upholstery were really nice but the horrible dash with those pressure touch buttons looked just like my microwave!
“It’s like driving the world’s fastest calculator.”
I’d expected it would be more like driving the world’s fastest doorstop.
I first met one of these — within about a month of the publication of the above article, as it happens — at the Beaulieu car museum in England. I didn’t like it from any angle. It seemed to me like the more extreme kinds of avant-garde art: deliberately incomprehensible, and full of weirdness for the sake of weirdness. It was certainly hi-tek for its time — although that tek notoriously never worked very well, and even when it did would strike us 21st Centurions as possessing the digital sophistication of a Pong game. Ultimately, the whole Lagonda project seems more of a styling exercise (“Today, class, we are going to fold our origami paper into the shape of an automobile”) than a car that human beings would actually want to buy and drive.
And I say this with the utmost respect for just about every model Aston Martin has ever made with the exception of this one.
But I haven’t yet read the scans of this vintage article, so I probably should get out my magnifying glass and do so before saying any more. Perhaps the Lagonda had positives I’m not aware of. Although the fact that only 645 were ever made over a period of 14 years (!) suggests that those of us who never liked this car are legion.
The model that preceded this looked, and pretty much was, a DB V8 with 2 extra doors so you can’t really fault the folks responsible for going in a TOTALLY different styling direction.
BTW, my reference book says that 610 were built over about 10 years. Those numbers put it about mid-way for an Aston Martin. Some models sold over 1,000 units, some just over 800, and the Lagonda before this one sold SEVEN.
Here’s that previous Lagonda. Styling is all over the place, bit like a Bristol in that respect. I saw one of these in the flesh at an Aston meet at Blenheim Palace, it was quite a beast.
And the one before that, the Rapide, which is my personal favourite. The styling is individual, but next time I’m on the Croisette I’d like to be in one of these… According to Graham Robson, 54 were made and it had a top speed of 130mph.
I’ve seen one of these Lagondas up close – the profile isn’t bad but the front is a little bit too much Edsel for me.
Wow, Now, I can see the “Edsel” in it! had Edsel survived another 20 years, who knows? It does modernise the theme without a “Bunkie Beak”.
I’ve always thought it had a touch of Facel Vega, suitably Anglicised.
Carries that “vibe” too!
I believe these played the role of blueprint for the XJ series that debuted 7 years later, since they had a much more modern presence than any sedan Jaguar was producing then.
I think you may be on to something there. These earlier Lagondas – particularly the Rapide – are a different approach to luxury motoring. Not the clubhouse feel of contemporary Jags and RR/Bentleys, nor the art deco/googie of the Americans. The Rapide isn’t just a pointer towards the XJ-6, it also ends up with the BMW 7-series and Audi A8. Contemporary, sporting luxury.
Whereas the Towns Lagonda was a bit of a dead end – sheiks only.
Given that Aston line’s “rich man’s Mustang” reputation, a couple extra doors makes it look very circa-1968 domestic compact. All it needs is thicker bumpers and plainer trim (steelies and dog dishes with skinny whitewalls maybe?)
my mind is blown. i have 40 yrs car guy experience and i have never known this stretched dbs existed. crazy.
I remember reading this! I thought it was a cool car (naturally it was out of my Chevette to Horizon price window) The extreme angular look seemed to be a logical extension of a styling trend in the late ’70s,/Early ’80s. witness the 1st gen. Seville, B/Cs ,Panthers. Celebrity…. That trend was done in (at least in the US) by The areo Thunderbirds, Mark VIIs and finally Taurus. leading to the “blob” era.
I always liked the “wedge” Lagonda ( I liked any Lagonda) but apparently that hi-tech instrument panel resulted in the electrics being a nightmare. Deliveries were delayed while they tried to make everything work properly.
I was surprised the latest 4-door Aston wasn’t badged as a Lagonda.
So…is this still Curbside Classic, as in photographing an actual car and writing about it, or just scanning old articles from a musty magazine collection?
Background info and examining vintage cars of all types helps all of us car lovers understand design concepts and technical development of the automobile generally, All of it leads to the cars that become “Curbside Classics” One CAN dig the Beatles without digging Beethoven, But the more we know about an art, generally, the more we get out of our love of the art, Music, Architecture and Car design!
well said 🙂
perhaps vintage bikes would be good to look at – there were amazing tech advances in bikes – such design achievements as ‘every man’s racer’ the pre-war Speedtwin and the desmodromic valve gear of early Dukes for example
we should remember that modern day bread and butter car engine development followed on from the development of motorcycle engines, principally Japanese ones (Japanese bikes/Japanese cars/rest of world follows… etc)
As far as I’m aware it’s still the same Curbside Classic that is free to you; and free to view. Maybe avoid the headlines that say “Vintage Review”, or just shut up for the rest of us maybe?
Oooo….so much sass from you. I love it!
But having a wall of these “Vintage Reviews” is a far cry from what Curbside Classic always was, and what makes it unique. I actually enjoy old car reviews, but the number of these posted on here verses actual Curbside Reviews lately has been out of whack. The odd vintage car review: okay. I’m just more concerned with this being the norm going forward.
Even on a “free for you, free to view” site, I’m sure readers’ opinions matter, even if you don’t want to read them.
And your point is? I find these very interesting for all kinds of reasons not the least of which I read some of these when new. You obviously dont enjoy these..which is fine..but why posit it like that. I see no shortage of “saw it snapped it wrote about” it articles. Dont like the scanned? Dont read…not like you are paying for it. There is some stuff I dont like but damned if I will whine about it considering all the other content I like.
I always figured it was built solely for Saudi royalty.
I kinda like these but you already knew they were a moneypit just by reading the reviews back then. Every once in a while you would see a clapped out one on EBay and I would be tempted………..older Quatroportes also temped me too btw.
Yeah, I know, a sucker is born every minute.
Go into a rough bar and give the biggest, meanest badass there $1000 and ask him to kick you as hard as he can in the balls.It’ll be just as painful as owning this car but won’t cost as much money.
I have an unhealthy interest in the Citroen SM, fortunately even a rough one is well out of my price range
+1……..Might be money better spent if he kicked me in the head instead.
I keep on thinking about a Chevrolet 502 transplant into either one of them but the electrics would STILL cost a nice house.
+1 Maserati BiTurbo convertible- the purchase sums almost added up, but thankfully didn’t quite.
I never lusted after these because of quality and reliability concerns but the exterior design is a knock-out. One of the best of the 70s and most memorable designs ever.
Never liked them,I just couldn’t take to any wedge shaped cars. Best be a good mate of Nigel the mechanic as many owners burned shoe leather instead of rubber.
Wow ! What an amazing memory you have …actually (snap!) my music school teacher was a Mr Bayfield (at St Kents boys only school, Pakuranga Auckland) and for ’67 into ’68 he turned up one morning back then in a brand spankers French blue FD Victor with the 1600cc OHC slantie four in it ..and get this, the car he traded-in for it was a mid dark green small body Minx with the 1600cc engine too (by ‘small body’ I mean it was the Minx that looked similar to Bryce’s, rather than the bigger squarer big windowed model with the upright iron headed 1725cc four ..the small bodied Minx was a pretty car and it made nice sounds too !
Of course I was absolutely agog at the FD. Never had seen such a pretty looking car. Those coke bottle hips on it were fascinating and twin bonnet air scoops !! The reviewers at the time commented on ‘what sophisticated machinery the FD was for a shopping basket’ what with OHC being something only to dream about in a bread and butter family saloon . . . .
Good times – funny how the memory kicks up such minutiae aye?? lol :))
Wish I had a good memory! My first car was a gold 71 FD Victor 1600, the rust monster had a good hold of it in 1979 and it was scrapped the following year
I’ve compared calculators to cars (“HP is the Mercedes of calculators”), but not the other way around.
I mean old HPs, back when they were crazy expensive: http://www.hpmuseum.org
Ah, Reverse Polish Notation! Good days, good days!
I still have my HP-16C at work, & an HP-12C at home. I think the latter is still available new. National Semiconductor also offered much less expensive RPN calculators; I had one. Of course they were not as well-designed.
Wow, HP still make the 12C!
And it costs the same as it did in the late 80s, about $60.
I never until seeing the lead photo realized these cars had pop-up lamps.
Learn something new every day…
Definitely one of the most striking of the 70’s angular designs though. Extremely daring, and with a refresh, still looked striking at the end of its run in the late 80’s.
I always thought these were fantastic looking. Not necessarily perfect, but way more interesting than any other manufacturers were doing at the time. Too bad the electronics were garbage. An overreach. But if they had just done the outer body and left the electronics for later, it would have been a big win. A four-place grand tourer with a lot more get-up-and-go than a Rolls.
Just a question – what was/is the reliability of the Aston Martin V8’s of the time? Better than Rolls or Lamborghini or Ferrari (not a high bar I imagine)?
William Towns also styled the Aston Martin Bulldog, a one off super car. It also had gull wing doors. I don’t think that such angular flat plane styling is ever well received, but I could be wrong. I think that the Tesla’s Cyber truck is just a ruse, I think that Elon would like sell a bunch of electric trucks and make a lot of money, and not just a statement. We will see. Here’s a pic of the Bulldog.
Here’s another pic.
I somewhat recently came to think these have a remarkable resemblance to a ’77 Caprice, as though they’re based on an early concept drawing of the Chevy before all the compromises that were made to give it the sort of functionality buyers would expect.
For instance and apart from the electronics, the Lagonda’s trunk space is small for its’ size (as is a Rolls); a Lagonda’s owners would send their shopping home from Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive in a taxi. The taxi would, of course, be a Big Chevrolet.
I also always saw these as an even boxier ’77 Caprice. At least until you step inside. It’s difficult to convey how futuristic this dashboard looked in 1979.
It’s not just you; I see it every time I see one of these.
I’ll pick the Chev to drive, thanks, though I’d pick the Aston to sell.
These always looked half-baked to me.
To paraphrase the late great LJK Setright:
It’s a Seville trying hard to look like a TR7.
Only one of these I ever saw on the street was Evel Knievel’s.
How do you know, you ask? Was there someone else with Montana plate EK who looked exactly like Evel Knievel driving one of these around Scottsdale in 1992?
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