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1935 Lagonda M45 Tourer

  • 1935 Lagonda M45 Tourer
  • T8-style coachwork by Whenman Pitney
  • Body-off refurbishment in past three years
  • Huge amount of work by noted specialist David Ayre

Handsome, powerful and fast, the Lagonda M45 has long been among the most coveted of all Post-Vintage Thoroughbreds, and the example now being offered for sale by the Classic Motor Hub has benefitted from extensive recent work that has made it a particularly well-sorted and usable car.

The Lagonda was originally registered on 26 July 1935 – making it a relatively late M45, production of which ended that year – and its logbook shows that in the late 1950s it was fitted with black and red drophead coupé coachwork. According to Lagonda Club records, it was owned in 1956 by a Mr GWT Coates, before passing to FAG Moore in 1960, J Woods in 1963, and then a Mr Godbold in Somerset.

In 1976, the M45 was acquired by a Mr Brown, who later wrote that, by then, it was wearing a ‘crude cut-down saloon body’ that had apparently been fitted in 1959. The Lagonda was then given an extensive restoration during the 1980s, all of which is recorded in meticulous detail in the history file – there are even sketches and detailed notes to the trimmer.

It was during this restoration that the current reproduction T8 tourer body by Whenman Pitney was fitted. Originally blue, it has since been resprayed dark green.

In 2000, Vintage Coachworks – based at the famous Phoenix Inn at Hartley Wintney – stripped down the Lagonda’s Meadows engine and found that the block had been damaged beyond repair. A new block was therefore fitted, plus new conrods and pistons, and the cylinder head was converted to make it suitable for unleaded fuel.

The Lagonda has been treated to further work in recent years. Noted marque specialist David Ayre rebuilt the gearbox in 2015, and the following year a new Borg & Beck clutch was fitted, plus a new flywheel, and the pedals were modified in order to place the throttle on the right rather than in the centre.

The result is a beautifully sorted example of the Lagonda M45 with attractive tourer coachwork. The 4.5-litre Meadows engine gives the M45 greater performance than rivals such the Alvis Speed 20, and this car is ready to be used and enjoyed by its next custodian.

Model history

The Lagonda M45 was introduced in 1933, and while it retained the basic chassis from the 3 Litre model, complete with 10ft 9in wheelbase, it added servo brakes and a beefed-up rear axle. The big change, however, was the fitment of the 4,453cc six-cylinder engine that was supplied by Meadows but assembled and lightly modified by Lagonda.

The Staines marque didn’t lower itself to publishing anything so crude as power figures, but when pressed it quoted the output that Invicta claimed for the same engine – 115bhp. Although this was no doubt optimistic, the M45 was a quick car and reached 92mph when road-tested by The Motor.

The engine initially drove through Lagonda’s own gearbox, but this was soon dropped in favour of the Meadows T8 unit, which was subsequently retro-fitted to many of the early M45s that had left the factory with the original ’box. André Telecontrol adjustable dampers were standard fitment.

The M45 was considerably cheaper than the equivalent Derby Bentley – the tourer was £795, while the Bentley was over £1,000 for the chassis alone – and it was a huge success. Press reports were glowing, national icon Sir Malcolm Campbell bought himself a tourer, and the M45 even had various motorsport outings.

In the 1934 Ulster TT, three short-chassis lightweight cars were entered, with Brian Lewis finishing fourth and Johnny Hindmarsh fifth. No fewer than eight M45s appeared in that year’s RAC Rally, but Lagonda’s greatest sporting success came the following year when Hindmarsh and Luis Fontés won the Le Mans 24 Hours in an M45 Rapide.

Even so, Lagonda was not in good financial shape, and it went into receivership in 1935 – only to be rescued by Alan Good and live to fight another day. In total, 407 M45s were built by the Staines-based marque before the model morphed into the LG45.

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