EX1 This is the first of the W O Bentley prototypes, developed during the latter part of the war as a saloon, using pre-war technology. The car was designed with a massive cruciform x-frame, on to which sat the steel floor, and on this was located a wooden frame, on which the aluminum body panels were attached. The construction of the car was far from cheap, and involved a hugh amount of labour and hand finishing.
This car possibly once had a radiator and badge bearing the name “Lagonda –Bentley”, Lagonda lost ca. £10,000 through this court case, probably due to Alan Good refusing to back down, and thereby contributing to the collapse of the company. The trial judges conclusions were pretty damming for Lagonda Ltd, with all costs awarded against them, except for the the extravagant use of three top barristers.
This car has the chassis marked LBS-EX1, and it was used extensively in the 1940's on trade plates, probably to get around the petrol rationing. The construction of the car took place near the Lagonda factory which was employed full time for war-work, at the Simmonds Brewery. Harking back to pre-war styling were the pre-war free-standing front-headlights, V12 styled front-end, two-piece doors, smaller rear boot and a differing rear of car styling and 1/4 light designs.
It has been suggested that the car was on the road in late 1945, possibly after VJ day, maybe September 1945. The car was never registered for the road and no period pictures have ever been found.
Three major problems were identified by the works in late 1945:
1. Hesitancy in driving traced to misaligned Hooke joints in rear transmission
2. Rear suspension arms bending under hard cornerning
3. Impossible to access the rear wheels after a puncture or for routine maintenance.
The solution adopted to these problems;
1. By moving the drive axis back and the wheels forward, so that the UJ joints were co-planar. This resulted in a shortened wheel-base.
2. A redesign to the rear track, which was increased for a second time, and strengening.
3. Making the rear wings detachable to allow for full access to the wheels.
From January to April 1946, the six bare chassis's of EX1, EX2, EX3 and LAG/48/1 to 3 were sent off to Vanden Plas in Belgium for new bodies. Internal company memo quotes six cars.
Sometime in the period late April -June 1946, EX1 was crashed at Warwick. The rear of the car slid into the kerb and the car rolled, resulting in major body damage. The drvier was believed to be Reg Ingham (Works Manager), and the passenger was believed to be Mac Harris (father of Ian Harris). The wrecked car was returned to Staines and the body was scrapped, but the rolling chassis was kept
In September 1947, David Brown took over Lagonda and W. O. Bentley left shortly after this.
On 24th February 1948, EX2 was sold to E. Hirst of Lounds Farm, Yorkshire, no menion of EX1 on this paper-work.
In July 1948, an Aston Martin won the Spa 24 hours race with a racing version of Claude Hill's 2.0 litre.
There may possibly have been a disagreement between the Staines Lagonda people and the Aston Martin fraction at Feltham as to the type of car which would be built for Le Mans in 1949, given that Lagonda had a guaranteed entry. With no definitve proof and merely a supposition, it is possible that the unwanted EX1 chassis was shortened, lowered, fitted with a 2.6 LB6 engine, over-size prototype radiator, non-adjustable torsion bars, front springs reduced in height etc etc. No documentation, letters or pictures exist.
15th June 1948, EX3 was sold to A. J. McAlpine