By on June 27, 2017

Image: 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, image via Hemmings

We’ve got a special treat for you today — this glorious Aston Martin Lagonda from that future dystopia now long past, 1984. And futuristic it was, when you consider this car was sprawled across luxuriously carpeted showrooms beginning in 1976.

So let’s go back in time. Is your leisure suit ready?

Image: 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, image via Hemmings

The Lagonda you see here is not the original Lagonda design. You see, that version was based on a contemporary DBS and was announced at the 1974 London Motor Show. Now known as the Series 1 Lagonda, that model is extremely rare, with a production run of just seven cars. If you find a ’74 or ’75 Lagonda, do let us know.

What we have here is a Series 2, which is the Lagonda most people think of when they hear the name. On offer from 1976 through 1985, production delays meant customers did not receive deliveries until 1979. Poor show, Aston.

Image: 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, image via Hemmings

The only engine available is this carbureted 5.3-liter V8, generating 280 horsepower. So, basically the same as a General Motors LS V8, right? Top speed was 143 miles per hour, and 0-60 mph happened in 8.8 seconds. Most impressive.

Image: 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, image via Hemmings

The interior of the Lagonda featured the sort of creamy cowhides and deep pile carpets expected in a British vehicle of this class. And customers had a right to their high expectations, as the asking price in 1980 for a Lagonda was £49,933, or $116,090 USD. The CPI Inflation Calculator tells me that’s $364,897 today. But you were getting quite a lot of car for the money.

Image: 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, image via Hemmings

Overall exterior length is a generous 207.9 inches (about a foot shorter than period American large sedans), but you wouldn’t know it looking at the rear passenger area. At least those close quarters give a better view of all that hand-stitched navy piping.

Image: 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, image via Hemmings

The door panels are thick walnut-and-leather affairs, and one would imagine a bank vault-type noise is assured.

Image: 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, image via Hemmings

The rear solarium area is covered with retractable netting — a feature the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx would copy years later.

Image: 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, image via Hemmings

Something you might not expect in such a vintage automobile: all gauges are electronic. The Lagonda was the first production vehicle in the world to use computer management and an all-digital instrument panel.

Image: 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, image via Hemmings

And none of what you see here was reliable. The electronics development alone would wind up costing four times the entire budget for the project. Aston Martin recognized the flaw and, for the Series 3 (1986-1987), replaced the LED system with even less reliable cathode ray tubes. Not keen to give up on the name, the automaker’s Series 4 Lagonda ran from 1987 through 1990, with 104 examples made.

Our subject today is currently for sale through Hemmings, with an asking price of $64,900. Compared to the initial asking price, that’s a complete steal.

[Images: Hemmings]

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85 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, a Paragon of Reliability...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I can feel its power.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Your mechanic is calling. Something about “you’re f*cked and your speedometer cannot be replaced.”

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I was an Audi 100 owner, I don’t need a working speedometer.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          The C3 Audi is an exercise in “What can I do without (today)?”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Don’t hate, appreciate [how much fun it is to guess your own speed at any given time].

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Just measure your speed by road noise.

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          Ha! With the ABS out, I have no speedometer in a ’04 A4 – speedo runs off the ABS sensors instead of a reliable cable.
          No biggie, I know what gear I’m in and the engine RPM, plus I only pass bicyclists and skateboarders, so inadvertent speeding really isn’t an issue.

          • 0 avatar
            AdamOfAus

            Same for my E39. Just drove it from Cairns to Yeppoon and hit a large puddle at the start of the trip, disabling abs and traction and sending speedo needle all over the place. And as stereo volume is linked to vehicle speed, the volume bounced too. Brittle plastic covering the wires for the unit. Of course the trip is being made to buy another E39. ; ]

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Mattel called. It wants its’ Electronic Football LEDs back.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Hey, I got one of those as a Christmas (hell, it may still be in a box somewhere). My poor mom, she went all over Dallas looking for the stupid thing. It was the hot thing in 1977.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        For $13, you can relive the magic.

        https://www.amazon.com/Basic-Fun-09506-Football-Electronic/dp/B013CNKVD2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1498581695&sr=8-3&keywords=electric+football

      • 0 avatar
        alff

        Every kid on my block had one. It wasn’t too long before we could all score at will and lost interest.

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          Yeah, the novelty wore off pretty fast.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            A few years later it was electronic chess. I had one. The novelty wore off around the same time I got frustrated after the 187th straight loss and tossed it against a wall.

        • 0 avatar
          threeer

          I have both Football I (the white one), Football II (the green one where you could actually pass) and the original Tan Baseball. All 1970s originals and not a new repro amongst them. I carry one whenever I travel…which once shut down an entire airport security check in Serbia a few years back!

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The sound effects from one of those Mattel games ended up sampled by Supertramp in “The Logical Song,” right after he sings, “digital.”

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      In the late ’70’s I got a digital tach from JC Whitney. Probably around 39 bucks. Worked great, red LEDs looked exactly like the ones on that dash.

      Wow that’s some impressive front and rear overhang.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      If it had talking features, it would have to sound like Speak and Spell. I wouldn’t allow it to sound like anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      My family had the baseball one instead:

      http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Mattel/BaseB.htm

      We also had a Mattel Electronics Intellivision II. Much of my early childhood was powered by Mattel Electronics.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I was in high school when it was released, and I can still remember the awe I felt, seeing it on the cover of Road & Track. I also remember a classmate referring to it as an “Austin Martin Lagoonda”. I lol’d.

    I’ve never seen one in person, but I was both impressed and horrified, looking at all the pictures of a slightly rusty one for sale awhile back on BaT. Definitely a handcrafted car, and insanely expensive to repair or restore.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    BTW…here’s the dash with the CRT setup:

    http://www.astonmartin.com/en/heritage/past-models/lagonda

    This “update” probably updated the Lagonda’s reliability from “laughable” to “cruel joke.”

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    I wonder who made the decision to give priority to the clock, trip odometer, and voltmeter on the instrument cluster, while relegating the speedometer and tachometer to the far right?

    I suppose since electrical failures were common, it made sense to know what time your battery died.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Rich people needn’t worry about speed nor what the engine is doing. Far more important to make it to your lunch date on time.

      Unfortunately. I’m betting that was indeed a problem with this car (getting somewhere on time, unless it was on the back of a tow truck).

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        This is why Rolls Royce advertised its’ horsepower figures as “adequate” for years.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          Car and Driver used to have fun with that. When Rolls (and Bentley) would release a new model with obvious power upgrades, C&D would list the hp/torque as “more than adequate,” “supremely adequate,” and (my favorite) “a surfeit of adequacy.”

  • avatar
    ajla

    Coolant temp is below 0, ambient temperature is about 60, oil temp is around 117, and it is ‘3. 0.’ O’Clock.

    Looks promising.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    All snark, claims on performance, reliability, cost, aesthetics, etc aside –

    – It took some massively big balls to dream up, let alone implement and manufacture that instrument panel, the gauges, the wiring/harnesses, electronics, and everything else that went into the final product, especially from that manufacturer (a dingy of a company) at that time (1984 was a momentous year in my life, despite my being a ripe old 9 year old).

    And….it…….is………..glorious. The total disregard for proper planning, cost of design and total manufacturing expenditure, and d!cks out for Harambe ballsiness just has to, by the ape-like, primordial, testosterone-driven, total lack of common or business sense, total disregard for anything remotely approaching “best practices” or things like ISO9000whatever – has to be lapped up with moist tongue and luxuriated in, with a huge standing ovation to the chaps that said “F*ck it, let’s do this thing!,” and made it happen.

    I salute these fine ladies and gentlemen with huge balls and breasts and gallons of sheer will pumping through their circulatory systems.

    The world needs balls and breasts this large now more than ever.

    I salute them.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    For all of the stately trimmings inside this car, I think it’s amusing that when they got to the radio they just bunged in something which looked like it came from the closeout bin of Crutchfield.

    (yes, I know that Alpine unit isn’t the factory radio. but the original one wasn’t much better.)

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Yeah you’d think they could borrow a fancy one from some other British maker.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Appears they were getting their units from Blaupunkt by the ’80s.

        http://www.caranddriver.com/photo-gallery/aston-martin-lagonda-driving-first-class-gallery#11

        Check that baby out. Yes, the readouts were separate and you could swivel the remote head unit around, up, down, etc. Believe it or not, that was a thing back then.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          the early ’80s Camaro had a “swivel radio,” guy in my class in high school had one.

          https://www.thirdgen.org/forums/attachments/body/23048d1034297010-84-berlinetta-swivel-radio-passengersviewa.jpg

          Iron Duke underhood too. that car was LOL

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I remember that one. But it just swiveled on the dash. The Blaupunkt was on this adjustable pole and could be tossed around like a bottle of 7-Up. Just the thing for a guy with a 911 and a bag of blow.

            https://petrolicious.com/articles/revisiting-the-original-uber-audio-upgrade-the-blaupunkt-berlin

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          Yeah, those things cost a grand when new. The famous (infamous?) Blaupunkt Berlin. I wanted one soooooooo bad.

          https://d39a3h63xew422.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/08024434/blaupunkt-berlin2.jpg

  • avatar
    Fred

    If I was rich and could afford this car I’d get it, damn to hell reliability. Besides I’d have another dozen cars or more to get around in.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The dash and instrumentation look like they were designed by an engineer who was fired from Citroen for being too radical and then took on the design project for Aston while on an extended acid trip.

    I did once see, one of these in the original Newport-Pagnell factory. Their production process at that time was more reminiscent of pre-War (First War) production than anything resembling modern automotive production techniques.

    Still as ‘Deadweight” states you must give them credit for trying something totally outrageous. The only other vehicle that looks remotely like it is the front end of Lady Penelope’s car from the original Thunderbirds series.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “The dash and instrumentation look like props from a circa-1976 James Bond movie.”

      There, fixed it for you.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I just want to scream when I see these electronic speedo-tacho in modern cars. No way I am buying Honda any time soon because of this.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “I did once see, one of these in the original Newport-Pagnell factory. Their production process at that time was more reminiscent of pre-War (First War) production than anything resembling modern automotive production techniques.”

      that was one thing which tanked the British car industry.

      I remember a story about the Rolls-Royce fighter engines for WWII. because the Allison V-1710 (meant for the P-51 Mustang) was late, Packard licensed production rights to the Rolls-Royce Merlin in its place (as the Packard V-1650.) But they had to make significant design changes to the engine because Rolls-Royce was basically hand-building them, and their tolerances were actually *too loose* for Packard’s mass production methods.

      http://www.tested.com/art/makers/492418-packard-merlin-how-detroit-mass-produced-britains-hand-built-powerhouse/

      “One day their Chief Engineer appeared in Lovesey’s office, which I was then sharing, and said, ‘You know, we can’t make the Merlin to these drawings.’

      I replied loftily, ‘I suppose that is because the drawing tolerances are too difficult for you, and you can’t achieve the accuracy.’

      ‘On the contrary’ he replied, ‘the tolerances are far too wide for us.’ We make motor cars far more accurately than this. Every part on our car engines has to be interchangeable with the same part on any other engine, and hence all parts have to be made with extreme accuracy, far closer than you use. That is the only way we can achieve mass-production.’”

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @JimZ: Great story thanks. It reminds me of 2 perhaps apocryphal stories that I was told about British auto manufacturing.
        1. That the engineer who decided that the Ford V-8 would fit in the Sunbeam Alpine, making it the Tiger, used a yardstick for the measurement. Since the measurements were not exact, each Mark I, need to have a production worker bash the firewall with a hammer in order to make the necessary space to fit the engine.
        2. That if you wanted an automatic Aston-Martin for much of the 1970’s – 1980’s, your vehicle was equipped with a rebuilt Chrysler transmission sourced from various wreckers/scrapyards in the USA. As A-M could not afford to design/build their own automatic transmission, they discovered that one of Chrysler’s met their specifications for size, weight and ability to handle the required torque. They had scouts find low mileage versions in wrecked vehicles, shipped them to the U.K. and rebuilt them for installation in their new vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      Those membrane buttons look like they come straight off a Timex 1000.

      The Cadillac Cimmaron also had a (much better) LED dashboard – which also had an unfortunate habit of smoking or causing catastrophic total electrical failure in the middle of the freeway.

  • avatar
    dchturbo

    I think this thing is completely badass. I want a standard one, though.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    Nice car if it weren’t for that hideous dashboard, both the instruments themselves and the general design.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “The Lagonda was the first production vehicle in the world to use computer management and an all-digital instrument panel.”

    And what is the pleasure to look at it? Control board of coal-firing power plant is more exciting than that. And why current automakers are falling into it? (Honda). Pile of crap.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I saw one of these at the Cité de l’Automobile museum, France’s national automotive museum, in Mulhouse, France last fall. My wife’s cousin, who was acting as our tour guide around the area, was amazed when I said, ” Oh, an ’85 Aston Martin Lagonda,” when coming upon this car from behind, even though I had never actually seen one before in real life. This is a car design I have never forgotten!
    With thousands of cars there, I did not photograph the Lagonda, instead concentrating mostly on the Bugattis – they have two Bugatti Royales there!

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      3 if you count the extended production one built way before Shelby jumped on the bandwagon.
      BTW if anyone is thinking of going there, budget at least 2 days.

  • avatar

    I know someone who owns one. He says it’s not nearly as unreliable as it is said to be. No, it’s not his daily driver.

    Evel Knievel had one with an 8.2 liter big block Chevy motor. He used it to tow a coffin shaped trailer in matching maroon paint. When he was on the lam after taking a baseball bat to a television executive with whom he had a disagreement, he lived in the car and slept in the coffin.

  • avatar
    YeOldeMobile

    As someone who was not born when any Lagonda was new, what was the point of the solarium? Was it just a fancy word for “static sunroof?”

    And what was it with old, giant cars having no rear legroom?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, the thing’s only three inches longer than a contemporary Camry (which surprised me – it looks a LOT bigger), and a lot of that is front/rear overhang.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    One of these (with the LED dash) has been a Cars&Coffee regular for a while now, and the owner says basically everything on his works, and that, all things considered, its somewhat reliable.
    It’s a stunning (not pretty) sight in person, and far more distinctive than the rather Mustang-looking V8/Vantage of the period.

  • avatar
    dkleinh

    In the 1980s I lived in southern California behind the orange curtain. An advertising publication targeting the supposedly well-heeled had an advertisement in it with a picture of this car and the caption:
    Aston Martin – for the man who demands perfection – and has the means to pay for it.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I love dashes like this, wouldnt want to live with it but the experimental nature of it is refreshing.

    Whoever buys this car needs to throw out the CD player, its far too mundane in appearance compared to the rest of the car.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I always liked the exterior styling of these.

    I’m surprised though that the LEDs were that much of an issue in terms of cost, I thought LED type technology had started to creep into enough things by that time that it wasn’t that cutting edge. It’s amazing though how dated that looks today.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The car is awesome, but its *name* is even better.

    Stylistically, it’s an automotive pushmi pullyu:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vbHLgQQ0iN0/TYNN6GLt-BI/AAAAAAAAArc/ZnFOwwkV5_w/s1600/Pushmi-pullyu%252C%2BTwo-Headed%2BLlama.jpg

  • avatar
    hands of lunchmeat

    theres a white series 2 that roams nyc. before seeing that one on several occasions ive never actually seen one move under its own power.

    i wouldnt say its pretty but it definitely has presence in person.

  • avatar
    Joss

    L looks okay for midgets who like lounging low in deckchairs. But this day & age of the SUV? The UK’s a coastal place. Heck don’t park this up close then wander off to the pub when the tides out. Ford every stream climb every curb – hmmm?

    I would have picked porker Camargue over L. Heck a bustle Seville would be lower maintenance than either.

  • avatar
    7402

    I met a guy who had the pleasure of restoring one of these. It turned out that all of the wire insulation was the same color: gray. True for all wire harnesses throughout the vehicle. It was a nightmare to rewire the thing.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    That dash is like a ghetto KITT.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    There is a exotic and vintage auto repair shop near my office in LIC Queens, NY, just over the bridges from Manhattan and Brooklyn. They specialize in Ferrari’s, Alfas, Benz, BMW, Porsche and the British marques.

    Every few months I’ll see the same white Lagonda parked out front or in the driveway with it’s hood up being worked on. At times I’ll be walking by on the way to the coffee shop and see it’s door open and the dash and instrument cluster apart. The thing looks like a Heath kit or Radio Shack kit from the 70’s. Mechanically the car is probably pretty sound but the electrical gremlins must be a nightmare.
    This Aston must be paying the owners rent.


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