Despite superb engineering and technical expertise, the road for Lagonda after the Great War wasn’t easy. The marque managed to survive and in 1933 introduced the M45 series at the London Motor Show. Powering these handsome vehicles, which ranged in body types from sleek roadsters to stately saloons, was an overhead cam 4453 cc in-line six supplied by Meadows. They were fast and tales were told such as when a Lagonda outran the train between London to Brindisi. In competition they were also a fierce competitor, just one example being at the 1934 Tourist Trophy where Lagonda entered three cars and the trio finishing quite strongly.
Despite these statistics hard times fell upon the company, one reason being that having a fast car in the UK in the mid-1930’s meant little when the speed limits were set at 30 MPH throughout the land. In early 1935, Alan Good took over the company and reformed the brand into “LG Motors” bringing with him the talent of W. O. Bentley. In short order the LG45 was brought to market of which 278 chassis would ultimately be produced, many equipped with attractive examples of British coachwork from several companies.
Mayfair Carriage Company could trace its heritage back to 1920 where it foundations had been laid, taking on the name Progressive Coach and Motor Body Company by 1925. Around 1929, the firm had taken the name Mayfair Carriage Company, and their work appeared on such outstanding chassis as Alvis, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Humber, Wolseley as well as imported chassis such as Buick, Minerva and at least one example for the Mercedes SSK.
On April 14, 1936, Lagonda received an order from the dealership of Kevil-Davies & March for a very special car. This special automobile was scheduled to be ready for the Olympia Motor Show that October, where it would be center-stage in Kevil-Davies & March’s exhibit. After the show was finished, the car was delivered to the new owner. The customer was Frederic “Nevil” Shimwell Melland whose father was one of Britain’s most honored surgeons. Nevil, as his family called him, wanted a swooping, elegant vehicle and Mayfair’s Coupe de Ville design fit the bill. Nevil dutifully took the car back to the dealership for proper servicing and maintenance, all of which was duly noted and has been preserved to this day. Also included is the original Registration Book with includes the coveted fuel rations issued because of World War II, during which time the car was rarely used. In 1950, the original owner sold this unique Coupe de Ville to RAF Wing Commander Theodore D. Misslebrook, a highly decorated veteran of the war, who retained the Lagonda for several years before selling to Derwood Hollar of Southern California on February 9, 1977. During this time period there is no record as to how the car was used, but in 1978 it was offered in Hemmings Motor News for sale. After that attempt to sell the car, this stunning Coupe de Ville would languish in a state of preservation for over 37 years before being acquired by Hyman Ltd.
This 1936 Lagonda LG45 Mayfair Coupe de Ville is in remarkably well preserved condition. The car remains untouched and is presented in the same condition as it was when first shipped to Southern California four decades ago. When Hyman Ltd. acquired this car there were some tough decisions that had to be made. After careful inspection and consideration it was decided to keep it in the condition found and allow the new caretaker of this interesting machine to decide the direction of this gorgeous car’s future.
It appears to have been given a fairly high-quality respray before coming to America, retaining its original color scheme of dark gray with black applied to the hood top, rear boot area and upper portions of the rear fenders. The coachwork is simply elegant in design with what appears to be a pair of enclosed side-mount spare tires, but as was typical of Lagonda, one of those covers was created to house a set of tools and spare parts that might be needed on an extended journey. The rear seats and front seat bottoms do appear to be the original leather, but the front seat backs have been recovered with a grey vinyl material at likely the same time as the respray. All of the original gauges sourced from Smiths, are fitted in their proper locations on the wooded dashboard.
Most encouraging is that there have been no half-hearted attempts to start a restoration, which means this car is complete. Under the hood the original Meadows engine featuring its cast aluminum Lagonda rocker cover, the twin Vertex Scintilla magnetos plus both of the SU carburetors all intact. Remarkably, there is a ready source for spares for the LG45 through the Lagonda Club.
It is getting exceedingly difficult to find cars like this, and this unique Lagonda represents a fabulous opportunity for the collector who is looking for a car that will stand out. Whether restored, or simply looked after mechanically and preserved, this is a car that will be welcome at events worldwide, and one that will certainly make people sit up and take notice.
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