Rare Rides: The Superbly Rare 1963 Aston Martin Lagonda Rapide
Rare Rides has featured a couple of fine Lagonda sedans previously. First was the 1980s rectangle designed by William Towns, which miraculously remained in production from 1976 to 1990. Next was the Lagonda Taraf, a super sedan intended only for the oil-flush UAE market.
Today we bring you the genesis of the Aston Martin Lagonda sedan line, the Rapide.
The Rapide was developed during David Brown’s ownership of Aston Martin. If you recall, Brown also saw the development of the Rover Metro into the luxury Aston Martin Frazer Tickford Metro. In the early Sixties, Mr. Brown owned Aston Martin and the deceased Lagonda brand. Though he purchased the Lagonda marque in 1948, Lagonda had faded away in 1958. The company made a very small number of coupes post-WWII, with Aston Martin engines.
The Rapide was a luxurious, V12-engined car at Lagonda in the Thirties, and Mr. Brown decided it was that name which should revive Lagonda. Design work was handed off to Carrozzeria Touring, the sedan based on the contemporary DB4 coupe. Though it shared a basis, the sedan’s 196-inch length was considerably longer than the 177 inches of the DB4. Touring applied a split grille design with three sections to the Rapide, and quad headlamps additionally separated Lagonda from Aston Martin’s corporate styling. It took three years to develop the Rapide, and the large sedan entered production in 1961.
An early super sedan, Rapide used an enlarged straight-six of 4.0-liters that was notably more potent than the 3.6 found in the DB4. Featuring dual overhead cams, the 4.0 would later see use in the DB5 and produced 236 horses in Rapide implementation. That made for a very quick-for-1961 run to 60 of 8.9 seconds. The Rapide debuted other features used in the later DB5: a de Dion rear suspension, and a body composed of a magnesium-aluminum alloy. Most Rapides were automatic and routed their power through a three-speed Borg-Warner unit, though a select few were ordered with a four-speed manual.
Extremely expensive, the Rapide was around £5,000 when it was new. That figure was 25 percent higher than a DB4, and twice the price of a Jaguar MKX or E-Type. Between 1961 and 1964, just 55 examples were produced. Aston Martin would not make another sedan until the Lagonda of 1974 mentioned above. And that was well after the conclusion of David Brown’s Aston/Lagonda ownership.
Today’s red over tan Rare Ride is presently at auction and ends bidding tomorrow. Current ask is £70,000 and it isn’t at its reserve. Probably not even close.
[Images: Aston Martin]