The Classic DB Lagonda
During the latter part of WW2, Alan Good, the Company Director of Lagonda in Staines and W. O. Bentley the Technical Director made a decision not to continue with the successful, but luxurious LG6 and V12 cars in post-war austerity England. They reasoned, possibly incorrectly, that a new smaller engined car in the middle market sector would be the most successful approach for Lagonda post-war. From about the beginning of 1944,, surreptitious car design began on the post-war product. Bentley was occupying an office in Ironbanks, but a lot of preliminary design work was done on Frank Aytoa's billiard table. WG Watson was the only man on this work,full-time but later in 1944 he was joined by Donald Bastow. Among Bentley'papers is an analysis of the opposition and the car industry as it stood in 1939 .The conclusion of this paper was that Lagondas ideal target should be a quality car costing about £800 (pre-war value) which would place it halfway between the Alvis/Rover type of car and the Rolls and Bentley. With the benefit of hindsight this was a mistake, Rolls Royce and Bentley effectively becoming a single make post-war, so there was ample space at the top end of the market.
Early adverts from Sept. 1945 onwards in the major motoring publications of the period such as Autocar and the Motor, inform the public of a newly designed 2.5 litre car, with a top speed of 90 mph, carrying four passengers with great comfort and luxury. Note the marketing department of Lagonda trading on the pre-war reputation well deserved with the V12 dhc, clearly they were not just targeting the middle market-place, as conventional wisdom suggests.
The first advert stating that 2.6 saloons and also dhc's were intended to be for sale is from The Autocar of Janaury 10th 1947. The cars shown are clearly worked up drawings by Frank Feeley to give the public some idea of what they might expect.
The Feeley drawings show sidelights at the 9 o’clock position, not at top of the wings as would become the norm. Also the rear tail treatment is less bulbous than it would be in the final design, which had added headroom for the rear seats and passengers. Also note no rear wing front aluminum cover sections.
The design of the drophead shown is too short, implying a shorter wheeelbase which was never made. Also looking at the rear of the car, the design is not finalised yet, but most of the ideas are in place already, which would appear in late 1948, nearly 18 months later. Two-piece doors were used on the VDP prototype bodies, but these were not found on production bodies. This advertisement attracted 2763 orders when only 6 cars existed, a rather large problem to solve, but showing the design would prove to be popular in the late 1940's and early 1950's. Further adverts followed detailing the engineering behind the LB6 2.6 litre engine and many of the major supplies of the day including piston suppliers, Lockheed drum brakes are known etc. What a great shame that the money was not there to pull it off and of course minimal steel allocation from the post-war Labour goverment.