loading Loading please wait....

Aston Martin Lagonda buying guide (1976-1990)

Aston Martin Lagonda Aston Martin Lagonda Has there ever been another car launch quite like it? It’s almost 40 years since the extraordinary Lagonda wedge was unveiled, but you can still almost sense the shockwaves today. It was all the more extraordinary for the fact that Aston Martin had just emerged from some of its darkest hours: the factory at Newport Pagnell had actually closed in 1974 before reopening in 1975 under ambitious new owners. And in a move that still seems audacious today, the new management team quickly gave the go-ahead to a radical-looking four-door from the pen of chief stylist William Towns.

Towns’s astonishingly low, futuristic Lagonda was shown to the motoring press at the Bell Inn at Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire on October 12, 1976, and later that month it made its public debut at the London Motor Show at Earls Court. Around 200 orders were taken on the stand.

It wasn’t an easy birth – and the main culprits for the delays that ensued were the fantastically ambitious electronics, particularly the dashboard with its digital instruments and touch-sensitive switchgear.

Electrical issues would continue to dog the early cars, yet slowly but surely the systems were sorted, and by the early 1980s the Lagonda had become a strong seller for Aston Martin – particularly in the Middle East and North America. By the time it went out of production in 1990, Aston Martin managed to sold 638 cars – which doesn’t sound like a lot today, but was a significant contribution.

Performance and specs

Engine V8, 5340cc
Power 280bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 301lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission Three-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
0-60mph c9.0sec
Top speed c140mph

Common problems

• As with all Newport Pagnell cars of this era – and underneath that sharp suit the Lagonda is essentially just another V8 Aston (in fact based on the stretched platform that supported the early-70s DBS-based four-door) – rust is the main enemy.

• It’s aluminium bodywork on top of a steel platform chassis, and it corrodes in all the usual places, particularly the sills, which are a major job. The work and costs are much the same as any V8.

• The big clue to structural issues are the door gaps. It’s a long chassis, and if any of the doors don’t close properly, it’s a sign of problems underneath.

• Mechanically they’re pretty robust, but look for signs of overheating and listen for any unusual noises. It should be a quiet, smooth-riding car.

• Check all the electrics work, including the instrumentation. If a car has non-functioning cathode ray tubes, and you need to replace them, you’re looking at around £8000-9000 to get everything working again.

Evolution of the digital dash

No-one knows more about the headaches posed by the Lagonda’s pioneering electrical systems than Dave Dillow – or ‘Mr Lagonda’ as he’s known at Works. One of the longest-serving employees at Newport Pagnell, Dave joined AML as an auto electrician in October 1976 – just as the Lagonda was making its public debut.

Today, Dave still works as an auto electrician at Works, but in the Heritage workshop rather than on the production line. He talks us through the evolution of the Lagonda’s digital dash.

The original version, with its red LED displays, was created by the Javalina Corporation, a Texas aircraft instrument specialist. ‘It was advanced for its day,’ says Dave, ‘but by today’s technology, they’re very basic. Then there was a mk2 version of the LEDs, and then the CRT screens…’

The trio of cathode ray tubes – basically miniature versions of the old-fashioned TV sets that used to be in everyone’s sitting rooms – represented the speedo, rev-counter, and a central display for the warning lights. ‘Think about taking that TV from your home and bouncing three of them down the road, and you can sort of see how problems might occur,’ Dave laughs. ‘Actually it was a beautiful dash and easy to read – when it was working.’

There was even one further variation, with the Series 4 cars introduced in 1987, when the CRTs were replaced by VF (vacuum fluourescent) gauges, which were thankfully less problematic.

‘Over the years we’ve developed ways of making each of the systems work,’ Dave continues. ‘We found the CRTs can be replaced by three LCD screens, which are much more reliable. Other cars have had LEDs replaced by conventional-looking dials.’

Summary and prices

So an important car in the Newport Pagnell story, but a wise buy today? As an investment, they’re starting to look a decent bet. At the recent Bonhams Works sale, an excellent low-mileage car made a strong £87,000, though a very tidy, average-miler reached only half that.

According to specialist Nick Mee, prices for the best are rising steadily – the Series 4 is the rarest and best-sorted, and an example in first-class all-round condition might now command as much as £120,000 – but you can still find driveable, presentable cars for around £50k.

Still good value, then – but only if you buy a sound car, and essentially one with a solid structure that doesn’t require major restoration.

Words: Peter Tomalin/Vantage magazine
Aston Martin Lagonda Aston Martin Lagonda
Last updated: 9th Jul 2015
expand this

Aston Martin Lagonda cars for sale

3 Search results
Aston Martin Lagonda
37275 445000 GBP
  • Make: Aston Martin Model: Lagonda First Registered: 21/04/1986 Mileage: 13,769 Previous Owners: 2 Engine: 5.3 Ltr Transmission: Automatic Paint Colour: Red Trim Colour: Cream Carpet Colour: Cream Doors: 4 Seats: 4 MOT: 12 Months TAX: TBA HPI: Clear Warranty: 3 Months 4* Cover Included

    • Year: 1986

    Last update: About 1 Month Old

    • Mileage: 13769 mi

    For sale
  • The Supercar Rooms
    01299 666116
    see details
  • This well known and very important prototype was created in 1969 for the personal use of Aston Martin Chairman Sir David Brown, and represented the first use of the Lagonda name since the demise of the Rapide in 1964. The 4 door version of the DBS had been envisioned back in October 1966 when the DBS project had first been proposed to Sir David. When William Towns styled the DBS, he simultaneously worked on both 2 and 4 door versions of the same car, indeed there is evidence that the 4 door was designed first with the much more familiar 2 door being a shortened version! So the prototype Lagonda was born, some 12 inches longer in the chassis over the standard DBS to accommodate greater rear leg room and boot space. Originally finished in Sir David’s favoured colour, ‘Roman Purple’, with seats and door cards in Crimson velour. The original 5.0 litre fuel injected V8 and wire wheels were soon changed by the factory for the 5.3 quad carb V8 engine (No.VS4008EE) in the car today, and GKN alloys. The car also carries its original registration number JPP 5G from new which appears in the original press releases! The car was a personal favourite of Sir David’s and in the early 70’s it was a

    • Year: 1969

    Last update: 14 Days Old
    For sale
  • Desmond J Smail
    01234 240 636
    see details
  • (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Lagonda is a British car manufacturer, founded as a company in 1906 in Staines, Middlesex by the American Wilbur Gunn (1859–1920). He named the company after a river near the town of his birth Springfield, Ohio. The company was purchased and integrated into Aston Martin in 1947. Wilbur Gunn had originally built motorcycles on a small scale in the garden of his house in Staines with reasonable success including a win on the 1905 London—Edinburgh trial. In 1907 he launched his first car, the 20-hp, 6-cylinder Torpedo, which he used to win the Moscow—St. Petersburg trial of 1910. This success produced a healthy order for exports to Russia which continued until 1914. In the pre-war period Lagonda also made an advanced small car, the 11.1 with a four-cylinder 1000 cc engine, which featured an anti-roll bar and a rivetted monocoque body and the first ever fly-off handbrake. During World War I Lagonda made artillery shells. After the end of the war the 11.1 continued with a larger 1400-cc engine and standard electric lighting as the 11.9 until 1923 and the updated 12 until 1926. Following Wilbur Gunn's death in 1920, three existing directors headed

    • Year: 1982

    Last update: About 21 Hours Old
    For sale
  • Oldertimerfarm.be
    see details
Related Specification
Related content