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1937 Lagonda LG45 Rapide

  • Fabulous photo-documented competition history in Argentina
  • Retaining its original engine and coachwork
  • One of only 25 Rapides built
  • Displayed at several motor shows throughout its life
  • Coachwork designed by Frank Feeley, later penned the Aston Martin DB3S
  • Chassis no. 12205/R
  • Engine no. LG45/372R/S3


The Lagonda LG45 Rapide:

In June 1935, a Lagonda 4.5 litre won the Le Mans 24 Hours race, however, in the same month Langonda entered receivership. Fortunately, Lagonda was saved by Alan P. Good who just outbid Rolls-Royce. At the same time, Good persuaded W.O.Bentley to leave his company, now owned by Rolls-Royce and join Lagonda as a designer, along with many of his racing department staff. Lagonda was firmly back in business, and in 1936 announced the LG45 Rapide as the fastest car in the world, capable of more than 100 mph!

The LG45 Rapide featured much of the engineering found on the Lagonda competition cars which had been so successful at Le Mans, but was fitted with a much more stylish and flamboyant touring body designed by Frank Feeley. Later in his career, Feeley was responsible for the design of the Aston Martin DB3S, possibly the prettiest sports racing car of its time. Feeley’s Rapide design incorporated four seats, cutaway doors, large swooping front fenders and stylish external chrome exhausts, everything the upper classes required in the late 1930’s.

Under W.O.Bentley’s technical direction, the M45’s replacement became more refined, gaining flexible engine mounts and centralised chassis lubrification, making the car a much more enjoyable touring option, and thanks to its pedigree it quickly became the favourite among wealthy motorists of its day. Bentley also turned his engineering prowess to the Meadows six-cylinder 4.5-litre engine, ensuring performance and reliability improved. Stronger main bearing caps, secured by four bolts in place of the previous two bolt setup and a strengthened crankcase were all part of the package. The gearbox was also improved, with synchromesh added to second, third and fourth gears making the driving experience far superior.

Only twenty-five Lagonda LG45 Rapides were built, and with time, it has become the most desirable model produced by Lagonda in the prewar era.

 

This LG45 Rapide:

The LG45 Rapide we are offering, chassis 12205/R, was ordered on 7th January 1937 and delivered to Major Robert Roger Glen of Kelvinside, Glasgow on 4th July. From copies of the original factory records within the cars extensive history file, we can see this Rapide was fitted with engine LG45/372R/S3, which it retains to this day.

Within a couple of years, this LG45 was bought by Rene Salem and delivered to his native Argentina before World War II. It is noted in an article published in the Argentinian magazine Corsa Parabrisas from 1970, that the car was delivered to Argentina displaying 0 kms, a copy of this magazine is included in the history file.

Later, the car was purchased by Lucio Bollaert, having passed briefly through a Mr Bertorini. Bollaert clearly enjoyed his car, competing with it at no less than five races. The first event was held on the 9th January 1949 at the Circuito del Torreón in Mar del Plata. Bollaert competed with the car wearing race number 12 and finished a respectable fourth overall. At this time the car was displaying Argentinian license number ‘107324’. The history file contains many images from these competition events in Argentina.

Bollaert finished fourth overall again at the same event a couple of months later, along with a string of sixth overall finishes before winning the award for ‘The Best Looking Car’ at the 1950 Gran Premio Libertador San Martin. Bollaert was an enthusiastic competitor and went on to compete with a Jaguar XK120, Ferrari 225 Sport Spyder by Vignale and a Ferrari 250 MM Berlinetta by Pininfarina.

The next owner was Ernesto ‘Tito’ Dillon who found the car in San Fernando. Dillon began a restoration, but quickly sold it partly finished to Jorge (Alehandro) Macome in 1964. Unhappy with the work completed so far, Macome commissioned a fresh restoration which was completed on 22nd May 1970. That evening Macome proudly collected his LG45 Rapide. In the June 1970 issue of Corsa Parabrisas, this Rapide was featured with colour images post restoration.

In May 1978, Joel Rahn of Springfield, Massachusetts, bought this car and had it shipped from Buenos Aires aboard the vessel Draco. Rahn only kept the car for a short period, selling it to George Chillberg in February 1979 through Atlantic Antique Auto Sales for $40,000. Chillberg was based in California and registered the car with license plate ‘LG45R’. The accompanying history file contains many images and documents from Mr Chillberg’s ownership, including a photograph of the car at the Riverside race circuit.

In November 1986, Clive Peerless bought the car through Simon Carrel who had it shipped to London aboard the H Mallard. Peerless registered the car in the UK with license ‘MFF 332’, which it retains to this day. A full and exacting restoration was quickly embarked upon, lasting for six years, with Peerless taking great interest, ensuring every detail to be as per original.

The extensive history file contains many original invoices from this restoration, along with correspondence with the Lagonda Club and marque specialists, further researching the cars history and ensuring every detail of the restoration was correct. Peerless used various specialist suppliers, including Connolly who supplied three red hides for the interior and the Lagonda Club who sourced the gaskets for the Meadows engine. The majority of the restoration work was carried out by specialists, E.K. Neve Engineering, in Sussex. Mr Peerless was not satisfied with simply filing the invoices from the restoration of his pride and joy, he even went to the effort of creating a hugely detailed log of every invoice and cost associated to this car.

Sadly, Clive Peerless passed away, and in 2009 his estate sold the car to its current owner, a London based collector where it joined his phenomenal collection, sitting alongside such greats as a 14-louvre Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta, Alfa Romeo 8C and Ferrari 250 SWB California Spyder.

In April 2010, this Lagonda was entrusted to Gary H.Wright Coach Trimming, a specialist in Lagonda motor cars, who manufactured a new hood in black Mohair, further showing the current owners level of commitment to maintaining the car regardless of cost. Around the same time, the car was also sent to specialists Bishops Gray who were given a blank cheque to ensure the car received any and all necessary work. Invoices on file show £10,000 was spent, further emphasising the quality of the restoration which was completed more than ten years prior.

In preparation for sale, Max took to the wheel, reporting the car to drive very well, with a particular highlight being the gearbox. Since Max drove the car, it has been fully detailed and presents beautifully, again thanks to Mr Peerless and his determination in restoring this example in the best way possible.

Any Lagonda LG45 Rapide is a true connoisseurs pre-war dream. With only 25 examples of this, the fastest car of its day, being produced, chassis 12205/R represents an extremely rare opportunity, and having covered less than 7,000 miles since its thorough and exacting restoration and engine rebuild, this Rapide is ready to be enjoyed on the open road, just as Alan P.Good, W.O.Bentley and Frank Feeley intended.


Price Upon Request

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