In 1935, Lagonda had its back against the wall. With all of the press and prestige that came with the M45’s surprise victory at the LeMans 24 hour race, not enough buyers were stepping up and the firm was facing receivership. Management had brought in 29 year old Alan P. Good, a financial wizard who amassed enough investors to save the firm. Good, along with recent arrival W.O. Bentley were motivated to build the finest cars in the world. Bentley had recently lost control of his own firm to Rolls-Royce, and was given a menial title and treated as a glorified test driver, so he was eager to utilize his engineering skills and attempt to humble the bosses at Rolls-Royce. He set to work at Lagonda designing an all-new and highly advanced V12 engine that would go head-to-head with the new Rolls-Royce Phantom III.
The Lagonda V12 was a marvel of technical sophistication – powerful and turbine smooth, yet also notoriously complex and expensive. It is said that even an experienced Lagonda engineer required a full 18 hours to dismantle the V12, and that’s with all the special tools at hand. Alongside the new V12, Lagonda continued to refine their Meadows-supplied 4.5 liter inline six that had been in service since 1933, powering the M45 and LG45 as well Invicta’s 4.5 and others. Given the complexity and development time required of the twelve, it was wise to offer the Meadows six alongside as an alternative power plant.
While it may seem like “half the engine” of its V12 counterpart, the six was surprisingly similar in many ways – 4479 cc for the V12 and 4453 cc for the six – with output equally similar, the twelve making 160 horsepower to the six’s 140. Many of the improvements for the Sanction 4 Meadows engine were courtesy of Harry Weslake – the great engineer who would design numerous Grand Prix and sports car race-winning engines. The uprated Meadows engine was soon mated with the advanced chassis of the V12 model to form a sporting car that would be considered Lagonda’s ultimate six-cylinder model: The LG6 Rapide.
We are honored to offer chassis number 12358 – one of just six LG6 Rapide Dropheads built. This magnificent automobile features four-place drophead coupe coachwork, designed in-house by the great Frank Feeley. According to the accompanying original registration logbook, it was first registered “DFG 800” on June 14, 1939 to Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Lindsay. Lt. Col. Lindsay would own this car until 1953 and it is said that he drove the car as its name implies, and that he thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. This LG6 would have been one of the fastest cars of its day, and Lindsay would recall many years later that he was only passed once in 14 years behind the wheel of DFG 800!
The LG6 would pass to Mr. Patrick Alexander R. Lindsay from 1953-1960, then to James Dutton Knight of Rolled Steel Products from 1960-1964. It then found a long-term owner in Michael Edward Malone who cared for the Rapide from 1964-1984. In 1984, 12358 was acquired by noted Lagonda collector, enthusiast and marque expert Bernd Holthusen of Germany. It was upon his acquisition of the car in 1984 that he spoke with then-General Michael Lindsay who recounted tales of his high-speed adventures and how much he enjoyed his time with this very special car.
In the 1990s, Holthusen determined the car was due for restoration. He felt it was so attractive in its apple gray over green hides and hood that it was decided the car should stay in the original colors. In 1999, the Meadows six was meticulously rebuilt and carefully upgraded using techniques learned on similar cars in Mr. Holthusen’s impressive collection. Improvements include a replacement, strengthened cylinder block, balanced rotating assembly, hardened valve seats for sustained high-speed runs on unleaded petrol, a water pump with modern ceramic bearings and seals, and the axles have been updated to use modern-type lip seals. Mr. Holthusen used the Lagonda extensively during his tenure, touring around Europe and enjoying the car to the fullest. It was also featured in his foremost book on the marque titled “Lagonda” which was published in 1996. Mr. Holthusen parted with his impeccably restored LG6 Rapide in 2002, and it eventually found its way to yet another respected collection of cars from this storied make. The current American owner continued to thoroughly enjoy DFG 800 on numerous tours, rallies and concours, including the Colorado Grand in 2017.
Today, this magnificent automobile presents in excellent condition, its outstanding restoration having taken on light and pleasing character thanks to regular use on road events. The sumptuous Frank Feeley-penned coachwork features flowing curves punctuated with a subtle chrome sweep on the body and brilliantly judged cutaway wheel spats. Ace wheel discs and big P100 headlamps add to the sporting appeal. The paintwork has held up remarkably well since the restoration, showing only a few minor marks from use, but remaining glossy, straight and handsome.
Original literature touts this as a four passenger car (three up front, one in back) however it would be best enjoyed with two or three as the side-facing dicky seat is suitable for short trips. The dark green leather has a handsome patina from regular use, lightly creased, inviting and perfectly broken in. Lagonda-badged instruments are as-original, and this car features a fabulous period correct Phillips radio. The tool kit is neatly hidden behind a drop-down panel, and a set of period appropriate suitcases fit behind the front seat, given the boot is all but consumed by the spare wheel.
This Rapide now wears engine number 12227 which, according to the Lagonda Club, was fitted in approximately 1968. Originally rated for 140 horsepower, the improvements made during the rebuild have likely released a few extra ponies, and as expected, the LG6 runs phenomenally well. The engine features original twin Scintilla Vertex magnetos, and dual S.U. carburetors and is properly presented and detailed, showing extremely well for a car that has been proven on numerous events. The original four-speed gearbox has the top three ratios synchronized which mates to a 3.31 rear axle to allow for effortless high-speed cruising. The chassis is maintained to a high standard, and the handling and road manners remain impeccable. This is truly one of the finest performing prewar cars we have had the pleasure to offer. It is fast, comfortable, and remarkably easy to drive thanks to the slick-shifting synchro gearbox and powerful hydraulic brakes. It is easy to imagine feeling fresh after 1,000 mile tour in this car. The sale will include the original owner’s handbook, tools, period luggage, original registration booklet, and Meadow’s instruction manual.
As one of just six dropheads built on the LG6 chassis, this fabulous automobile has led a charmed life at the hands of passionate, enthusiastic owners. From the day it was delivered, DFG 800 has been enjoyed to the fullest. Its most recent keeper has ensured it remains on the button and ready for action on tours, rallies and club events, while also kept beautiful enough for concours display. For events like the Colorado Grand, there is hardly a better choice than DFG 800. This is an exceptional opportunity to acquire one of the finest prepared examples of this legendary prewar Grand Touring car.