Lagonda has a long history. Founded in 1899 and building its first car 10 years later, which makes 2009 Lagonda’s 100th birthday. A fitting time, perhaps, for a revival.
Best described as a maker of high-performance luxury cars in the first half of the 20th century, inspired by the involvement in the company of W.O. Bentley. Lagonda was swallowed up by David Brown, then owner of Aston Martin (and the ‘DB’ in Aston’s model designations) in 1947, for the princely sum of £52,500 (even in these price discounting times you’d be hard pushed to buy a single Aston Martin for that money!).
Lagonda became a specialist arm of Aston Martin, producing variations of Aston’s cars including the DB4 based Rapide of the sixties.
The last Lagonda was the Aston Martin Lagonda of the seventies, a futuristic, wedge-shaped super-luxury saloon car, that had ambitions beyond its capabilities. Amongst many innovations was the complicated ‘Atari’ electronic dashboard, which with the state of technology in the seventies never worked properly. Not exactly an overwhelming success, the Lagonda name was retired, apart from a brief appearance as a Vignale concept in the nineties.
But Aston Martin are keen to capitalise on the history of the marque, and have launched the Lagonda Concept – which is not right at all! Why? Because, whatever Aston Martin says, it appears to be a luxo-SUV!
Lagonda should be a sleek, powerful saloon or coupe. Why not use Lagonda for exactly that? Why not launch a Super-Luxury range of cars above the current AM offerings? Not the right time, admittedly, but it’s even less the right time for a big, luxury SUV!
Still, this is the route Lagonda are going, so what do Aston Martin say?
Aston Martin is proud to announce the return of Lagonda, one of the most iconic names in luxury car manufacturing. The intention is for Lagonda to enter the market place with a unique performance luxury product, a vehicle that combines exceptional ability with unsurpassed elegance, inside and out.
Lagonda’s return signals a major expansion of Aston Martin’s product line, taking the company into new and emerging markets around the world. To demonstrate the Lagonda vision, the LAGONDA CONCEPT has been created, a car that epitomises the intersection of craft, design and technology with Aston Martin’s established high performance expertise.
The LAGONDA CONCEPT is an avant-garde luxury vehicle; with powerful four-wheel drive, a four-seater car that will satisfy the most discerning and demanding owner. The concept demonstrates a commitment to innovative new propulsion technologies, new materials and elegant forms.
“The Lagonda is the luxury car of the future,” says Aston Martin Chief Executive, Dr Ulrich Bez, “a combination of total usability, a new form and innovative new technology and materials.”
The return of Lagonda fulfils a long-term vision. Aston Martin’s modern era began in 2001 with the launch of the V12 Vanquish and the construction of the award-winning headquarters at Gaydon, Warwickshire in 2003. In the years that followed, Aston Martin has launched four class-leading new products, revitalising the performance GT category and redefining automotive beauty.
Aston Martin’s award-winning range, the DBS, DB9, Vantage and forthcoming Rapide and One-77, represent some of the most beautiful high performance cars ever built, refined, highly crafted and extremely well-engineered. An Aston Martin will always be a sports car; modern, exclusive and beautiful, it demands to be driven, with an exceptional character that rewards the enthusiast, both on the road and on the track. Above all, an Aston Martin creates an emotional response. It is a machine with soul.
Under the leadership of Dr Ulrich Bez, Lagonda will bring performance luxury into new markets and territories around the world. Reflecting its remarkable history, Lagonda will return to Russia, enter emerging markets in the Middle East, South America, India and China, as well as responding to demand from the dynamic, innovation-focused consumers of Europe, North America and the Far East.
Not only will Lagonda join Aston Martin in existing core markets, but the unique character of the new brand will help take the company into as many as 100 territories around the world and extend the brand to new customers. “An Aston Martin is an authentic, pure sports car,” says Dr Ulrich Bez, “but Lagonda is something else, a new brand that will reach into new markets and have different values to Aston Martin.”
The LAGONDA CONCEPT celebrates 100 years of car production under the Lagonda brand, a stunning contemporary evolution of this evocative name.
The modern Lagonda marries functionalism with luxury, through organic forms, rich materials and complex surfaces. The car is based on an advanced platform that is tailored to accommodate a broad range of future powertrains, including flexfuel, low emission diesel and hybrid systems.
The LAGONDA CONCEPT is a four-seat international tourer, an avant-garde luxury car that draws inspiration from the brand’s illustrious past as well as the visual language of speedboat design, the spacious individualist environment of the upper class cabin and the bespoke feel of contemporary modern furniture. Inside, the four generous seats are divided into two zones, front and rear. The result is a relaxed, rich environment that envelops you in warm, tactile materials.
Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s Director of Design, describes the LAGONDA CONCEPT’s design language as a fusion of fluid shapes mixed with hard, constructed lines. This organic, emotional approach eschews upright surfaces in favour of broad, flowing bodywork around the spacious passenger cabin.
The clear delineation between cabin, shoulder and flank is strongly reminiscent of the powerful and evocative lines of the 1930s era Lagondas, in particular the V12-engined version of the LG6. Viewed from the front of the concept, the deep, strong grille also evokes the presence and frontage of the cars from the inter-war era. The bold character lines that run along the sculpted flanks to the rear ensure the concept is planted firmly on the road. The large 22″ wheels and cut-away bodywork offer exceptional ground clearance, while the concept’s V12 engine delivers power through all four wheels.
A modern automotive brand must have strong core values and a broad range of abilities. The modern Lagonda will be the pre-eminent long-distance automobile, a vehicle that combines cosseting luxury with extreme functionality and technological innovation.
The Lagonda name has been an integral part of the Aston Martin story since 1947. The LAGONDA CONCEPT illustrates how the brand will once again stand together with Aston Martin as the perfect complement to modern performance. A Lagonda stands for functional elegance, performance, simplicity and comfort.
“Lagonda will create a new kind of customer relationship, instilling the spirit of travel, adventure and style into a single, formidable package,” says Dr Ulrich Bez. “An Aston Martin demands to be driven. A Lagonda demands a destination.”
Well, lots of stuff, but no detail. Are Aston Martin on a fishing expedition for opinion, or are they really going this route? They might well be right, after all, they do produce the most glorious and beautiful cars as Aston Martin, so I’m sure they know more than I do. And they say they have plans for a variety of innovative propulsion options and are aiming the car at the very high-end and at emerging high-end markets. But it’s not a convincing re-birth, for me at least.