Lagonda M45

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Outlining the Aston Workshop restoration & complete history of a Lagonda M45

Text of Lagonda M45

  • L A G O N D A M 4 5

  • 5This is a story concerning Lagonda, and very specialM45 Lagonda, AUF 77, and the Peking Paris MotorChallenge. It is a heady mix.

    The purpose behind the commissioning and producingof this book is several fold. First to celebrate Lagondaand a wonderful old car that have given countlesspeople a great deal of pleasure. Second it is todocument her just completed meticulous restorationand finally to describe the Peking Paris MotorChallenge and her greatest adventure to come.AUF 77 is a 4.5 litre M45 Lagonda Sedanca de Ville.She was built in 1934 and clothed by an elegantSedanca de Ville body, constructed by LancefieldCoachworks of London to a commission from her firstowner, Major Maurice Cohn, United State MilitaryAttach in London.

    It is important to give my hearty congratulations andwarm personal thanks to many who have given freelyof their time to restore this wonderful old car and to

    prepare her for her greatest adventure. They includeour many loyal suppliers and collaborators, withoutwhom we could not possibly have achieved what wehave. To them all I owe a deep personal gratitude.I also thank most sincerely those who have helped,some more than others but all important, to producethis wonderful book. Thank you very much.If I have omitted some names inadvertently, I hopethat they will not be offended as it is quiteunintentional. I am grateful to you all.I hope that you will find this an interesting andabsorbing story of a wonderful company calledLagonda, and even more wonderful car AUF 77 andher restoration, and one of the finest motoringadventures, the Peking Paris Motor Challenge.

    Enjoy

    Bob FountainBeamish, Co DurhamApril 2007

    F O R W A R D

  • 5This is a story concerning Lagonda, and very specialM45 Lagonda, AUF 77, and the Peking Paris MotorChallenge. It is a heady mix.

    The purpose behind the commissioning and producingof this book is several fold. First to celebrate Lagondaand a wonderful old car that have given countlesspeople a great deal of pleasure. Second it is todocument her just completed meticulous restorationand finally to describe the Peking Paris MotorChallenge and her greatest adventure to come.AUF 77 is a 4.5 litre M45 Lagonda Sedanca de Ville.She was built in 1934 and clothed by an elegantSedanca de Ville body, constructed by LancefieldCoachworks of London to a commission from her firstowner, Major Maurice Cohn, United State MilitaryAttach in London.

    It is important to give my hearty congratulations andwarm personal thanks to many who have given freelyof their time to restore this wonderful old car and to

    prepare her for her greatest adventure. They includeour many loyal suppliers and collaborators, withoutwhom we could not possibly have achieved what wehave. To them all I owe a deep personal gratitude.I also thank most sincerely those who have helped,some more than others but all important, to producethis wonderful book. Thank you very much.If I have omitted some names inadvertently, I hopethat they will not be offended as it is quiteunintentional. I am grateful to you all.I hope that you will find this an interesting andabsorbing story of a wonderful company calledLagonda, and even more wonderful car AUF 77 andher restoration, and one of the finest motoringadventures, the Peking Paris Motor Challenge.

    Enjoy

    Bob FountainBeamish, Co DurhamApril 2007

    F O R W A R D

  • 7The origins of Lagonda go back to an American familyof Troy in the state of Ohio. The founder of thecompany was one Wilbur Adams Gunn, the son of theRev. James Wilbur. He was born the second child inSpringfield, Ohio in 1860.

    Wilbur on leaving school was apprenticed to thenearby Singer sewing machine company and in 1885,was married to Bertha Myers. They moved in 1888 toNew York where their daughter, Majorie was born. In1891, Wilbur Gunn moved to England, leaving hiswife and family behind. We can only speculate thereasons why, but within 7 years, they were divorced.

    Wilbur initially set himself up as afreelance consulting engineerand for a time becameinvolved in the design andoperation of hydraulic plant, apreferred alternative to electricalmachines then available, as theywere more reliable, had a betterpower to weight ratio and weremore powerful. In the mid 1890s,Wilbur met Constance Grey, wepresume through his Operainterests, he being an enthusiasticamateur singer, and through her, he

    met Constance Greys husband, Charles. Both CharlesGrey, the brother of Lord Grey and Constance hadpowerful connections and family wealth. In 1896,Charles Grey died. In 1898, Wilbur had divorced hiswife (or had been divorced) and was free to marryConstance. He moved into the Cottage ThorpeRoad, Egham (the Greys residence) and with thefinancial resources he now had available he decided tostart up in business on his own.

    In 1899, Wilbur Gunn created the LagondaEngineering Company, initially using a shed at thebottom of his garden to build small compound steamengines primarily for boat propulsion. The origins ofthe Lagonda name trace back to a district name ofSpringfield, Ohio, with its origins in a Frenchcorruption of the name of a small stream. Interestingly,the stream in question is now called Buck Creek.Wilbur Gunn was not alone in using the Lagondaname, for his brother also created a company of thatname making steam boiler tube cleaning equipment.The American Company was to stay in business rightup to the 1970s. There have been no connectionsbetween the UK and American companies. Nor, thoughoften suspected, is there any Italian connection either.

    Clearly Wilbur Gunn met with some success, for it wasnot long before he started experimenting withdifferent products and in 1900, Wilbur made his firstmotor cycle, sensing as he did, that with the state oftransportation, more and more people were

    C H A P T E R O N E

    THE HISTORY OF LAGONDA

    THE COMPANY

    Photo of Wilbur Gunn takentowards the end of his life.

    ORIGINS

  • 7The origins of Lagonda go back to an American familyof Troy in the state of Ohio. The founder of thecompany was one Wilbur Adams Gunn, the son of theRev. James Wilbur. He was born the second child inSpringfield, Ohio in 1860.

    Wilbur on leaving school was apprenticed to thenearby Singer sewing machine company and in 1885,was married to Bertha Myers. They moved in 1888 toNew York where their daughter, Majorie was born. In1891, Wilbur Gunn moved to England, leaving hiswife and family behind. We can only speculate thereasons why, but within 7 years, they were divorced.

    Wilbur initially set himself up as afreelance consulting engineerand for a time becameinvolved in the design andoperation of hydraulic plant, apreferred alternative to electricalmachines then available, as theywere more reliable, had a betterpower to weight ratio and weremore powerful. In the mid 1890s,Wilbur met Constance Grey, wepresume through his Operainterests, he being an enthusiasticamateur singer, and through her, he

    met Constance Greys husband, Charles. Both CharlesGrey, the brother of Lord Grey and Constance hadpowerful connections and family wealth. In 1896,Charles Grey died. In 1898, Wilbur had divorced hiswife (or had been divorced) and was free to marryConstance. He moved into the Cottage ThorpeRoad, Egham (the Greys residence) and with thefinancial resources he now had available he decided tostart up in business on his own.

    In 1899, Wilbur Gunn created the LagondaEngineering Company, initially using a shed at thebottom of his garden to build small compound steamengines primarily for boat propulsion. The origins ofthe Lagonda name trace back to a district name ofSpringfield, Ohio, with its origins in a Frenchcorruption of the name of a small stream. Interestingly,the stream in question is now called Buck Creek.Wilbur Gunn was not alone in using the Lagondaname, for his brother also created a company of thatname making steam boiler tube cleaning equipment.The American Company was to stay in business rightup to the 1970s. There have been no connectionsbetween the UK and American companies. Nor, thoughoften suspected, is there any Italian connection either.

    Clearly Wilbur Gunn met with some success, for it wasnot long before he started experimenting withdifferent products and in 1900, Wilbur made his firstmotor cycle, sensing as he did, that with the state oftransportation, more and more people were

    C H A P T E R O N E

    THE HISTORY OF LAGONDA

    THE COMPANY

    Photo of Wilbur Gunn takentowards the end of his life.

    ORIGINS

  • demanding the convenience and speed available withsuch modes of transport. Initially, as with so manystart-up businesses, the first products were built fromparts bought in from other local light engineeringcompanies, in this case Knights of Staines from whomhe acquired the frames. Wilbur designed andmanufactured a small internal combustion engineand adapted the frame to fit.

    Sensing also the importance of the publicity that couldbe had from competition, Wilbur was soon seencompeting in many local trials, of which one, the 1000Miles Trial of 1903 brought national recognition and asignificant increase of demand for his Motor Cycles. In1902, Wilburr registered the trademark Lagonda. Heacquired his first employees in 1903, namely BertHammond who came from Knights and Alfie Cranmer.Both were to stay working for Lagonda to theoutbreak of war in 1939, in the case of Alfie to 1946.

    By 1904, space in the shed at the bottom of Wilbursgarden needed serious expansion. This rapidlyfollowed by roofing over a large part of his gardenand extending the property boundary along ThorpeRoad, making a new entrance and creating asignificant manufacturing facility.

    9

    The first motorcycle made by Lagonda, using an in-house engine andcycle frame bought in from a local company calle