Rare Rides: The 1984 Aston Martin Lagonda, a Paragon of Reliability

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • APaGttH APaGttH on Jun 28, 2017

    That dash is like a ghetto KITT.

  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Jun 28, 2017

    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.

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jun 28, 2017

      And because everything is such a one-off exercise in there, you can't just swap it with bits from something reliable and make do.

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