Wednesday, January 22, 2014

1983 Aston Martin Lagonda - A Scary Project

I wrote about one of these cars (one in much better shape) about 4 years ago. I have taken some of the following text from that post...

The Lagonda was a $150,000 super-luxury sedan built by Aston Martin from 1976 through 1989. A total of 645 were built.

Aston Martin intended this to be a modern, futuristic car. William Towns was given the task of designing it. Long, low and pointed, the Lagonda was Towns' vision of what luxury sedans would look like in the future.

The real problem with this car was what type of equipment Towns envisioned the luxury car of the future having. Towns went wild with electronics. (You can mostly likely see the problem here already, as Aston Martin is a British car manufacturer that used Lucas electronics back in the day.) He wanted digital readouts and touch sensitive controls. Some of the stuff he wanted hadn't even been invented yet, let alone applied to cars. Towns went ahead with it anyway.

Early Lagondas got an LED dash and full touch sensitive controls. In what shouldn't have been any real surprise, they didn't work well. Eventually the LED dash was replaced by a CRT dash and some of the touch sensitive controls were replaced by good ol' toggle switches. By the time the last Lagondas were built, the CRT was gone, replaced by Vacuum Florescent setup, as were all the touch sensitive controls.

Propelling all that ultra-modern stuff was Aston Martin's 5.3L Quad-cam V8 with 4 two-barrel Weber carbs attached to it. The suspension was state of the art, but not radical. It had coil-overs all around with unequal length A-arms at the front. In the back a De Dion axle was positioned by a 4-link setup and watts linkage. The car was quick and handled extremely well.

For many years, this car was shunned by collectors. It's unusual styling and reliability issues kept the prices relatively low. As late as 2007, Time Magazine included it in its "The 50 Worst Cars of All Time" list. They called it a "catastrophe" and "Aston Martin's Dunkirk".

About this car: You can't help but wonder, "How did this happen?" when reading this ad.

According to the seller, this car was brought to a shop 10 years ago because of fuel pump problems. It remained inside for for "8 or 9 years," and was then pushed outside. Unfortunately, "outside" in this case is Ohio and not sunny, dry southern California. It has just under 33,000 miles on it. (For whatever reason, Aston Martin did not include a digital odometer in the Lagonda. It has a manual one. It's located under the hood.)

It needs new paint and some interior work, but that's the least of its problems. The seller says the engine is now "tight." I suspect a full teardown is in order. Scarier than that, is the possibility probability that moisture got into the electronics. Tracking down the problem, finding the parts - or finding someone who knows how to competently repair the unobtainable parts - is a scary thought.

This is not a project for the faint of heart. Plan on lots of time and lots of money. A prescription for Valium - with unlimited refills - might be helpful, too.

Recently, Lagonda prices have started to climb. It will be interesting to see what this project car sells for.

Located in Canton, OH, click here to see the eBay listing.


Max Power said...

I'll never forget seeing my first Lagonda at the NY Auto show back in the 70's. it was more 'out there' than any concept car at the time. I always loved the look of the car and I still do

steve in podunk said...

It may be sacrilege but I'd make some sort of resto-mod with it, if I was inclined to do anything with it at all. I thought these were fantastic looking when I was a kid but not so much anymore.

Bellett64 said...

I agree with Steve... a Lagonda on the road running a Chev LS motor and 6-speed auto plus a full custom (and hopefully tasteful) dash is much better than no Lagonda at all!

Oddimotive Cason said...

I agree with the other two - this is a RARE case where resto-mod just plain makes sense. Prices are indeed climbing, but it will be years before a true restoration of a Lagonda project car makes any financial sense (if ever), at least as long as you don't have another one lying around with just the right parts.

Anonymous said...

Nice post!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love that dashboard :) So cool!