The Classic DB Lagonda        

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It was realised during the war the post-war Lagonda would have to be a smaller car than the V12 if it were to be profitable.  Rolls-Royce and other companies had also come to similar conclusions.  In August 1944, the Lagonda company placed advertisements on the front cover page of the "Tatler" and the "Illustrated London News".  In November 1944, it was placed on the front cover page of "The Sphere Illustrated" and, in a different form, in "The Motor", using the Bentley name in the advertising.

 

"After the first advertisements appeared, the first response was a prompt and very firm demand, backed by a threat of legal action, from Rolls-Royce that we must withdraw my name at once from the car as it was an infringement of their trade mark.  I said  (WOB): ˜Let me go up and see Hives and talk this over with him before we get mixed up in litigation.. He's not an unreasonable man and I know him well. Good and the others agreed.  In his suite [at the Grosvenor] Hives agreed in principle [with settlement proposal but] Alan Good said that he wouldn't have anything to do with it on those terms and went to go and see Hives and argue it out himself. I knew what the result of that would be. By strict legal definition I was entitled to nothing, and in any case Good's aggressive manner would be certain to get Hive's back up. Within a few weeks we were neck deep in litigation. ...

 

The form of the advertisement (other than in "The Motor") was as shown below.  Rolls-Royce, through its Bentley subsidiary, took great exception to these advertisements, saying that they amounted to trade mark infringement and passing off.  Rolls-Royce, after a hard fight that lasted 8 days in court (not including judgment), succeeded at the end of the day on 3rd December 1946. See the following link for a report on the original case, Bentley Motors Ltd vs Lagonda Ltd .

 

It is possible that EX1 originally had a radiator and badge bearing the name “Lagonda –Bentley”,  Lagonda lost ca. £10,000 through this court case, possibly due to Alan Good refusing to back down,  and thereby contribute 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., see below for full details.

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In August 1947 J. R. Greenwood, last chairman of an independent Lagonda, announced though work had begun on the first 1,000 of its new 2 1/2 litre motorcar designed by Mr W. O. Bentley, due to a shortage of materials, continuing difficulties of production and the recently imposed double purchase tax these plans had been cancelled. While there were other engineering activities including the manufacture of a diesel pile-driver it had informed the 1,600 workpeople involved that some of them would inevitably become redundant.

 

The Ministry of Supply's wartime controls over the allocation of steel supplies remained in force from 1945 to 1954. These controls were designed to try to at least maintain supply to existing consumers but it is since acknowledged they were applied in a highly discriminatory fashion. Lagonda had tooled up for quantity production and provided evidence of a substantial export orderbook.They were allocated steel for just 100 cars.  Compounding this problem, was that W O Bentley had tried to do a  deal with Briggs Motor Bodies, to create a pressed steel monocoque post-war car, in 1945, using his first designs for the car.  This did not come off, as Ford placed substantial orders with Briggs, taking up all their capacity, eventually buying them outright in 1953. There was therefore no opportunity for Lagonda to make large numbers of cars as intitially envisaged.

 

David Brown's companies were able to obtain the necessary steel and a month later, in mid-September 1947 it was announced that Lagonda  had been bought by David Brown & Sons (Huddersfield) Limited, gear-wheel manufacturer, which would combine production with Aston Martin.

 

The following gives a picture of  W  O Bentley from his obituary in  The Times August 1971,  page 12. "The six years during which I worked for "W. O." were a period of education and pleasure. His modesty, lack of pretension, mental honesty and reasonableness endeared him to those in contact with him, and his over-riding interest in the improvement of the car provided the education in a period which included the post-war 2 12-litre Lagonda development, schemes for 4 and 8 cylinder derivatives, for the pursuit of shorter strokes in engines, for a small transverse-engined front wheel drive car and for a performance engine for the Morris Minor in place of the 850cc side valve engine it then endured." Mr Donald Bastow