This is a car that seems to encompass everything that was wrong with British car making in the 1970’s, but at the same time is a prime example of how innovative car designers were being during that period. I could talk for 10 hours about this magnificently obscure and incredibly rare machine, but since I’m such a generous and considerate person, I’ll only talk for 9…
The Aston Martin Lagonda first entered production in 1974, and was designed to be one of the most revolutionary cars ever built, but being revolutionary was something Aston Martin should have had as far off their minds as possible!
When the car was launched, the company had just recovered from bankruptcy, and logically should have been playing things safe to try and recover their losses. But instead, what they did was design a car that was to be the cutting edge of automotive technology.
Designed by William Towns, the intention was to make a car that was so low and smoothly streamlined as was humanly possible. The result was a car that was so low that even when I was kneeling down next to this example it was still lower than me! Although such examples of cars are commonplace amongst Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s, this car is neither, it’s a 4-door luxury limousine, not a two-door supercar!
But the problems with the Lagonda weren’t just about its low styled body, internally the car was like a substation! To try and be cutting edge, Aston Martin designed the car to be digital in every conceivable way. All readings on the Dashboard were displayed with LED’s rather than analogue needles, and everything was controlled by push-buttons, the kind you’d find on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise!
However, cutting edge does not always guarantee outright success, and the poorly made wiring inside the car meant that none of the electrics ever worked. The problem was then compounded by the fact that fitting the electrics to the car in the first place cost 4 times more than the budget of the entire car! The result was that when the first Lagonda left the factory a year late and thousands of Pounds over budget, the car was simply undrivable because of its faulty electrics.
And just to top off what could already be described as an insanely reckless car, the price tag for it was £50,000. Aston Martin were certainly being optimistic with that price tag, probably expecting to make a fortune off of their angular wonderchild. However, they had forgotten to note that there had just been an oil crisis and the idea of driving a £50,000 car powered by a gas-guzzling 5.3L V8 engine didn’t exactly ring everyone’s bells! The result was that Aston Martin only made 645 of these cars during its 16 year construction run, and not one of them made their money back!
So, Aston Martin, cash strapped and barely working, decided to make a car that had an outrageous design, outrageous electrics, an outrageous price tag and an outrageous engine, and expected to make a profit?
Today, many look back on the Lagonda as one of the most abysmal failures of automotive history, frequently popping up on ‘Worst cars ever made’ lists with other ambitious cars of that era such as the Rolls Royce Camargue. But today there is something of a cult following for these curious and crazy machines. Although here in the UK you’d be stretched to find one (I was very lucky to catch this bad boy), there’ll probably be some rumbling around in the South of France or on the West Coast of the United States.