1933 LAGONDA 3 Litre T3View vehicle description
PLEASE NOTE THAT AN AUCTION PREMIUM WILL BE CHARGED, ON TOP OF THE HAMMER PRICE, OF 5% (+VAT IN UK AND EUROPE). FROM 16TH JAN'23 THIS APPLIES TO ALL AUCTIONS ON THE MARKET, AND FEES ARE CAPPED AT £5,000 (+VAT)
One of the most revered names in automotive history, Lagonda is pungently redolent of all things archaically British – cucumber sandwiches, duffle coats, tea strainers, buck-toothed vicars, fierce aunts scented with tweed, feathers and smelling salts, etc.
The true origins of the firm, however, are rather different.
The founder was Wilbur Gunn, an American opera singer who had the sense to realise that his real talents lay elsewhere. In 1906 he left the stage and, with help, produced and marketed a very competent motorcycle under the Lagonda brand, named after a creek in his native Ohio but produced from a factory in Staines, Middlesex.
Moving swiftly into car production, Lagonda’s reputation as a quality brand was cemented by winning the Moscow to St Petersburg trial of 1910 with a 20hp six-cylinder Torpedo, a feat which impressed Tsar Nicholas II and opened the door to a lucrative Russian market until war broke out in 1914.
Having established its reputation by winning the Moscow - St Petersburg Reliability Trial of 1910 with a 30hp six, the Staines-based firm concentrated mainly on the production of light cars before focussing its attention on sporting and luxury models in the mid-1920s.
In the pursuit of sharpening this new focus they appointed Arthur Thomas from Lea-Francis, who designed a new engine with overhead valves operated by short pushrods from two camshafts located high up in the engine block.
The 14/60 model, as it was known, sported powerful Rubery four-wheel brakes and was particularly attractive and lively, especially as by 1930 (by which time it was known as the ‘2-Litre’) it could be had with a Cozette supercharger.
In 1928 the chassis was stretched and a 2.4-litre six-cylinder engine with conventional pushrods was introduced in the 16/55. This was all a bit heavy and performance was brought back up to specification when the capacity was increased to 2,931cc as the ‘3-Litre’.
Boasting a robust seven-bearing crankshaft with overhead valves, this smooth and strong unit produced some 80bhp and gave the car a top speed of 80mph.
A true thoroughbred, the 3-Litre attracted a select clientele and, in sporting low chassis form, enjoyed some competition success, most notably Lord de Clifford's fine performances aboard a works 3-Litre on the 1931 Monte Carlo and 1932 RAC rallies.
Testing a Lagonda 3-Litre in 1929, The Motor opined that it was, “Difficult to imagine a car nearer an ideal than one which combines the full performance of a speed model with the top gear performance of the best modern touring car".
The 3-Litre was, indeed, exceptionally flexible and characterised by oodles of torque, being able to accelerate from 5mph to its maximum of around 80mph in top gear.
Motor Sport summed up the 3-Litre Lagonda as, "A very pleasant car of very high quality, and possessing that indefinable but very definite character which stamps the thoroughbred in every walk of life" – sentiments that retain the power to make even the most jaded of modern eyes discernibly lachrymose.
These were the fastest and most expensive cars of their day.
In total some 580 3-Litre models were made before it was replaced in 1934 by the new M45.
We understand that fewer than 150 are thought to survive.
None of which will be anything quite like the simply extraordinary example we have with us today.
Before we start.
Tamp another pinch of moist Navy flake into the bowl of your favourite old briar pipe.
Pour yourself an Old Fashioned or a Salty Dog.
Drop the gramophone needle on your best pressing of Louis Armstrong’s ‘Hobo, You Can't Ride This Train'.
Have your maid freshen your antimacassar, your valet put a crisp crease in your Oxford bags and your houseboy raise a fearsome shine on your co-respondent shoes.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Then we’ll begin our story (OK- technically it’s Kenneth Grahame’s story).
“As the familiar sound broke forth, the old passion seized on Toad and completely mastered him, body and soul. As if in a dream he found himself, somehow, seated in the driver's seat; as if in a dream, he pulled the lever and swung the car round the yard and out through the archway; and, as if in a dream, all sense of right and wrong, all fear of obvious consequences, seemed temporarily suspended. He increased his pace, and as the car devoured the street and leapt forth on the high road through the open country, he was only conscious that he was Toad once more, Toad at his best and highest, Toad the terror, the traffic-queller, the Lord of the lone trail, before whom all must give way or be smitten into nothingness and everlasting night. He chanted as he flew, and the car responded with sonorous drone; the miles were eaten up under him as he sped he knew not whither, fulfilling his instincts, living his hour, reckless of what might come to him.”
Mr. Toad, sorry, the vendor, is well-known to us at The Market and is as enthusiastic about owning and restoring very special cars as he is expert in their engineering and fettling.
He is, we believe, just the fourth owner of this 1933 Lagonda.
He has owned this remarkable vehicle for around 11 years, having bought it from a collector in whose possession it had been lovingly protected, maintained and curated for around 20 years.
Prior to that, the car was owned and significantly restored by the then editor of Car magazine.
The car first graced a stand at the 1933 Olympia Motor Show, at which time it had a drophead coupé body courtesy of Martin Walter of Folkestone and, we think, a Maybach overdrive gearbox.
Possibly the very last 3-Litre ever constructed, this car was built on the ‘low’ M45 chassis of the model that would replace it.
It was rebodied in the 1970s.
No corners have been cut by anyone, at any time, in restoring, maintaining and cherishing this vehicle.
No expense has been spared. There are no compromises in evidence.
Nothing rattles or clunks. Everything works. All is as it should be. All is well.
If we could take this car back in time and show it to onlookers in 1933, they’d think they were looking at a new car – albeit one that had apparently come from the future in a few important respects.
Amazingly, this 90 year-old car was used as a daily driver by the vendor for many years.
Indeed, he thinks he probably averaged around 6,000 miles per year in it.
We have photographic and video evidence of it being driven to Switzerland, to Paris, to Biarritz and to Monaco by the vendor and his friends (Mole, Ratty, etc).
This is no museum piece. This is a properly engineered vehicle that’s been sensitively and expertly upgraded to be safe, fast, usable and enjoyable to drive nearly 100 years after it was built.
What’s more, if you’re inclined towards originality and authenticity, most of the car’s upgrades and amendments could be removed and replaced by the original components (most of which are available with the car) in the space of half a day.
So, in short, what you have here is a wholly functioning 1933 Lagonda 3-Litre T3 - one of the very last ever built - that comes with the inestimable benefits of upgraded, servo-assisted brakes, a fully rebuilt race engine with a close-ratio overdrive gearbox, electronic ignition (cunningly disguised as an original magneto), modern universal joints on the prop-shaft, modern oil filters, twin fuel pumps, fully adjustable suspension (as per the original factory fit), a modern starter motor, custom-made polyurethane bushes, custom-made brass steering bosses, custom-made manifold and exhaust system, new fans, an all-important rev limiter and, courtesy of an Eaton M90 supercharger, around 111bhp at the rear wheels and over 500 ft/lbs of torque.
The vendor has done little to alter the car’s appearance or cosmetic appeal, save for swapping the running boards for the Lagonda ‘racing steps’ you see on the car today.
All of the money he’s spent on it (north of £120K) has been aimed at finessing and perfecting the car’s engineering and mechanicals.
It’s just absolutely fabulous in every respect.
On the Outside
Roughly the size of the Queen Mary and made of leather, wood, various metals, rubber, parts of the Parthenon, volcanic lava (OK, we made some of that up), this is organic motoring in one of its purest forms.
The bodywork is solid and free from any dents, dinks, creases, ripples or folds that we can see.
The panel gaps and shut lines are as consistent and even as you could hope to find on a hand-built 1933 car.
The doors slam home with a weight and precision that would be impressive in a modern car, let alone one that was put together 30 years after the Wright brothers first took to the skies.
The wheels and tyres are very good, as are the chrome work, lights, lenses, badging and tonneau cover.
Eagle-eyed observers will have spotted the LED light bar beneath the centre lamp at the front.
Despite possessing headlamps that look as if they’ve been looted from the Eddystone lighthouse, the Lagonda needed a little help to see properly in the dark.
Hence the LED bar, which serves the quite important purpose of ensuring that the driver and passengers can spot trees, ditches, deer, escaped convicts and other hazards when driving at night.
There are a few cracks and splits in the paint on the bodywork behind the bonnet on the offside.
There is a small hole at the offside base of the otherwise fine fabric hood.
If this looks like a car that’s been kept in a garage that was purpose-built to house it, that’s because it is and was.
On the Inside
The interior, you won’t be surprised to learn, is every bit as good as the exterior.
The red leather seats are sufficiently supportive and comfortable to convey persons of middle-age and above average girth (and their vineyard purchases) to the Riviera and beyond (and have done so on several occasions).
They are in very fine condition, as are the door cards, carpets and mats.
The vendor assures us that every button, switch, toggle, dial, instrument, lever and knob does exactly what it’s meant to do.
It is a very special place in which to spend some quality time.
The undersides of the look to be entirely commensurate with the rest of it – solid and possessed of plenty of structural integrity.
It’s the same story in the very clean, shiny, dry engine bay.
This car comes with all manner of history, photographs, invoices, bills, receipts and other evidence of a life well lived.
Much of the work commissioned and paid for by the vendor was carried out by Lagonda whisperers Bishopgray, the rest by Bicester Heritage and other acknowledged experts.
There is way too much history to divulge in this meagre paragraph – you can see it for yourself in the documents section.
If you’d like to inspect the car prior to placing a bid – something we would encourage – then please use the Contact Seller button to arrange an appointment.
What We Think
This car was built in the year that Prohibition was repealed in the United States, King Kong was intent upon doing something dastardly to Fay Wray at the top of the Empire State building, and fast-bowler Harold Larwood was breaking Australian hearts and ribs in England’s victorious ‘bodyline’ Ashes series.
That it exists at all is a wonder.
That it still goes about its magnificent, thunderous, stately business with such alacrity and aplomb is, frankly, mind-boggling.
What a car.
We can only echo Mr. Toad in uttering the immortal words, “Glorious, stirring sight! The poetry of motion! The real way to travel! The only way to travel! Here today—in next week tomorrow! Villages skipped, towns and cities jumped—always somebody else’s horizon! O bliss! O poop-poop! O my! O my!”
We are delighted to bring this unique and exquisite machine to auction with an estimate of £160,000 - £190,000.
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
Bidders MUST ensure they are aware of the registration situation of a car in auction, and whether it will be possible to export/register a vehicle in their country BEFORE they bid.
All vehicles MUST BE COLLECTED WITHIN 7-DAYS of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per week) thereafter without exception.
If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage can offer you options, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping both domestic and international.
BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we always encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.
Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using basic cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
Please note that this is sold as seen (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.
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- Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 18700
- Chassis Number: 210414
- Engine: 3100 cc
- Gearbox: Manual
- Steering position: Right-hand drive
- Colour: Black
- Interior: Red Leather
- Estimated Price: £160,000 - £190,000