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Lot 682: 1938 Lagonda V12 4,480cc Short Chassis Sports Saloon

Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles, Bonhams (3 December 2007)

Francis Curzon, born in Mayfair, London, in May 1884 succeeded to the Peerage in 1929 upon the death of his father. His place in the history of motor sport was assured by his victory at Le Mans in 1931, driving an Alfa-Romeo and partnered on that occasion by Sir Henry Birkin. Howe mixed with the �Bentley Boys�, Benjafield, Barnato, Kidston and Birkin ranking amongst his close friends in motor racing circles and with Howe�s support and encouragement Dudley Benjafield was to set up the British Racing Drivers� Club in 1928. Howe was to be elected its first President at the 1929 Annual General Meeting. He was a regular at Le Mans and Brooklands, raced at Donington Park, winning the Donington Park Trophy Race in 1933, carrying off the winner�s laurels in the 1938 Grosvenor Grand Prix in South Africa and recording many podium finishes in a racing career ending in 1939. His name ranked with those of Campbell and Segrave amongst pre-war motor sport heroes.

His personal choice of car was significant as here was a driver who demanded the highest standards in road-holding and engineering finesse, maximum performance combined with comforts that someone of his social standing expected. On 14th March 1938 he placed an order for his new V12 Lagonda. Unsurprisingly he selected the more sporting short chassis model fitted with four SU carburettors, essentially a saloon car to Le Mans racing technical specification. Although delivery was required on 24th June, 14027 was not actually delivered until 6th July. Howe�s car was featured in �The Motor� magazine on 12th July 1938, that publication referring to the blue and black livery and chromium wheels which were specially ordered to match Howe�s racing livery. �The Motor� reported:- �door pillars are unusually narrow and seats have both rake and sliding adjustments�. Earl Howe was pictured beside his new car in contemporary Lagonda advertising. In September 1938 �The Motor� road tested a V12 Lagonda reporting:- �so successfully does it combine tremendous performance with smoothness and quietness and excellent road holding with personal comfort �.. its cruising speed is practically anything that road conditions will allow�. The price of the new V12 saloon was �1,550 for which you could then buy several decent houses. Earl Howe�s son records how his father took 14027 to South Africa in November 1938, unofficially breaking a record on the Capetown to Johannesburg run and tells how he �scared the mechanic who was his passenger to death�. This was the visit when Howe drove to victory in the Grosvenor Grand Prix.

Howe was to trade this car in for a new model in 1939. Factory records show that the car was serviced at Staines up to 1947 and in 1945 there is a noted engine change when 189/2 was fitted. The car�s subsequent history is not fully recorded but a previous owner and professional engineer found the car about twenty-five years ago in remarkably complete and original condition, embarking upon a painstaking body-off restoration, the aim being to restore the car to as new condition. This involved all mechanical and all coachwork aspects, including re-timbering where necessary and refurbishing or replacing all coachwork panelling. The car was repainted in Howe�s livery and the chrome wire wheels as specified by the Earl were a retained feature. The jacking system, as originally specified, was removed from the car as it was deemed unnecessary, however was kept and is offered with the car. Minor concessions to modern motoring are the fitting of a stainless steel exhaust and also a most beneficial Laycock overdrive system. Superior fittings include walnut dash panel and door cappings, best quality blue/grey leather upholstery and blue carpets and original features include the wind deflectors to the side windows, interior courtesy lights and sliding sunroof.

Here is a car on which no expense has been spared which the present owner describes as driving superbly to the standards which Earl Howe would have demanded.

The short chassis V12 Lagonda was perhaps the most coveted and certainly the quickest luxury saloon car of its day, ranking alongside and possibly slightly ahead of the Rolls-Royce Phantom III. The Staines coachwork scored most highly in the elegance stakes.

This historic car, from the stable of a long-standing and respected vintage enthusiast, is offered with a large number of photographs showing the car before, during and after restoration, cuttings from period magazines, other Lagonda literature and an owner�s handbook, copies of correspondence with the 6th Earl Howe and others, and a Swansea registration document.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
Lot Number682
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£95000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£106000
Condition rating0
Registration numberGPK 780
Chassis number
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
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