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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1984 aston martin lagonda a paragon of reliability

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]

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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.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?