1981 Aston Martin Lagonda V8 Saloon
Reg. no. UFA 150
Chassis no. LOOR13096
Engine no. t.b.a.
In the early 1970s ‘wedge’ styling was very much in vogue; not only did the likes of British Leyland embrace the concept, but also such prestigious marques as Ferrari, with its GT4, Lamborghini with its Countach, and Lotus with the Esprit. In 1976, Aston Martin joined the wedge party with the Lagonda saloon. Previously known for their 2+2 grand tourers and sports cars, such as the DB series and the V8, the Newport Pagnell-based company was, despite worldwide renown – not least due to the DB5’s starring role in 007’s adventures – in some financial difficulty. Therefore it was decided to branch out into the luxury saloon market, in the hope of generating vital funds. For this purpose, the dormant Lagonda name was revived.
In 1974, the Series 1 Aston Martin Lagonda was introduced, essentially a four-door version of the 2+2 V8 model. Only 7 were sold. For 1976, it was redesigned, creating a futuristic car that bore no external resemblance to the previous model – or indeed any other Aston Martin – and one that is instantly recognisable today. Slightly confusingly, these were designated the Series 2, despite sharing little apart from the 5.3 litre V8 and 3-speed ZF automatic gearbox with the Series 1. The changes were not merely external; the futuristic theme continued on the interior – all the traditional wood and leather was still present, but the centrepiece was the world’s first digital dashboard and on-board computer, all controlled by touch-sensitive buttons. Coloured LED lights formed the driver’s display, replacing traditional dials and gauges.
The immediate effect of the new model was to suddenly silence those who had predicted the imminent demise of Aston Martin – here was a company that many thought was moribund, but had just come up with – in the space of just seven months – a car that was years ahead of its time. Despite being one of the most expensive saloons on the market – Rolls-Royce and Bentley’s offerings were slightly more – the Lagonda initially sold very well. So well, in fact, that in the early 1980s some influential people at Newport Pagnell wanted to stop production of sporting Astons to concentrate solely on the Lagonda; mercifully this did not happen! But the mere fact they could contemplate that showed that the gamble of introducing such a futuristic car had paid off – the massive publicity it generated was vital for the company. That Lagonda sales did not continue at the same fast rate did not really matter, nor did the fact the advanced electronics initially proved troublesome – it had done its job, and saved one of the world’s most iconic brands from bankruptcy – while also becoming an icon in its own right.
This 1981 Series 2 car has been with the current owner – its third – for over 20 years. In good all-round condition, with the space-age interior particularly good, the car comes with an MOT until May 2018. Both the V5c and old log book are present. This is a rare opportunity to acquire an example of this iconic and significant car, complete with the ultimate feature for any car enthusiast of a certain era – pop-up headlights!
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