At Auction: 1934 Lagonda Rapier
Lately I’m smitten with pre-war monopostos; often as much for the idea of them as for the machines themselves.
To be more specific, part of me wishes it was still possible to buy chassis and engine packages from manufacturers and then drop it off at your local coachbuilder. What a glorious age that must have been. When a particular chassis/engine combination might have dozens of variants on the road or track, with many of them being truly unique creations. Not cheap when you ding the bodywork, but a marvelous era for displaying individuality through transportation that no amount of ground effects and neon underlights and vinyl graphics and wings can replicate today.
This Lagonda Rapier being offered as part of Coy’s Ascot auction this weekend certainly fits that description. Just compare these photos to the more sedate—though no less beautiful—road-going bodywork that most Rapiers bore when they rolled out of a small British coachbuilder’s workshop. This gorgeous example is sure to draw plenty of attention and I don’t doubt she’ll meet her £50,000 – £70,000 estimate.
Like many of the surviving Rapiers, the machine on offer has had her powerful but fragile Coventry Climax-tuned 1104cc engine swapped. Here it’s with a beefier AC 2 liter unit. With this combination, the car was campaigned for many years by former Vintage Sports Car Club president James Crocker. More recently, the car has been campaigned and partially restored by an unnamed Swiss collector. With the recent rebuild of her engine, new crank, pistons and other bits, she’s bound to be a lovely competitor.
I find that I grow more and more interested in the pre-war group at the vintage events I attend. It’s hard to listen to them pass by and not think of the barnstorming thrill seekers that originally wrestled these giant beasts through around-the-house races in villages throughout Europe. It conjures such a romantic vision that, instead of my old mood of simply waiting through the prewar group to get on to the 50s and 60s racers, I look forward to the old girls’ time on the track with eager anticipation.