oldcar

Lagonda Rapiers

305 posts in this topic

From time to time I mention my Lagonda Rapier on my thread under Our Cars and Restoration Projects/Packard Coupe but I thought that I really should start a thread dealing with Lagonda Rapiers here where they belong.

For all those who are blinking and asking "What is a Lagonda Rapier" they are a small British car made for one year in 1934/5, until the Lagonda Company (absolutely nothing to do with Aston Martin until the late1940 when David Brown who had recently bought Aston Martin needed a decent 2 OHC engine and bought Lagonda)went into receivership. After the wash-up the Rapier continued in production, as Rapier Cars Ltd until 1938/9.

Lagonda's original design brief to Timothy Ashcroft the engineer in charge of the small team given the task of creating the car was..Produce the best Light Car in the World. The result was a brilliant little sporting car with an 1100cc 2 ohc 4 cylinder engine and an ENV pre-selector transmission. Total combined production of both the Lagonda Rapier and the Rapier was less than 400 cars.

To my knowledge there are about half a dozen of these cars in the US. One of the things that make these little cars so interesting (to look at) is that neither factory built a standard production body. EVERY car has an individual coach built body. No two are exactly the same. This is illustrated by the photograph taken yesterday of five of the cars situated in Melbourne Australia. Four are Lagondas and one a Rapier, they all have a body built by a different coachbuilder. Can you tell the difference?

Bernie J.

oldcar,

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It goes without saying, these cars have nothing to do what so ever with the 1950/60 Rootes Group produced "Sunbean Rapiers" which were in effect a tarted up Hillman Minx.

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Bernie thanks for sharing; by sheer luck I wandered down here as this particular section of the forum is a little less active.

You always manage to put up some interesting stuff be it a project update or something like this. neat cars, I guess for the guy who thinks the MGTA is just too common garden! :D

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Hi Steve

You never know where I will pop up next. I thought that my all too frequent mentions of the Rapier on my "other" thread was becoming too distracting. Don't knock MG TA,s I was out with a friend in one last night. Going to a VSCC meeting. While I have owned several MGs I would never consider myself a MG enthusiast.

Bernie J.

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Not all Lagonda Rapiers were open sports cars. This one is an ultra rare four seat "four light" Saloon. The very British term "four light" does not refer to the number of headlamps but the number of side windows i.e. two each side= 4.

It was one of the original shipment of seven cars (Five bare chassis frames) to Australia in 1934. It is one of two (both surviving) saloon (sedan) bodies built by the Supreme Coachbuilding Co in Nth Melbourne. It was repainted black in the 1930s and still wears the same paint. You can just see traces of the red pin-striping. Its interior trim is completely original. Its present owner has had the car since the 1950s. All seven of this original shipment still survive. In fact only one Rapier of the 21 imported into Australia has disappeared. It was stolen from outside a hotel in 1949 and despite being reported as "recovered" in 1950 in the Police records it has never been seen since.

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Hi

This one is for Michael Rohrmoser (Austria) if he looks in. It is a 1936 Rapier with a Ranalah Drop Head Coupe body. I rebuilt it in the early 1990s. When last heard of in 2007 the then owner had recently passed away, it was then in France, prior to that it had been in Austria between 1997 and 2005. It has dropped out of the Rapier Register and it would be nice to know where it is now. Its English Registration was YS 8375.

Bernie J.

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Hi Bernie!

Will start some investigations regarding the Rapier...

Best regards,

Michael

...That´s not a Rapier on the pic, but it shows the Riley I bought after selling the Austin 12...

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Posted (edited)

Hi Michael

It looks like you are into our sort of motoring. Is the Brooklands original or has it been up graded with a 12/4 engine? When you tire of the Riley's mundane performance you should be just about ready to up-grade to a Rapier. It took me 13 or 14 Rileys before I realised that there is a much better car! One that has a proper 2 OHC engine with a proper crankshaft. (Fully counter balanced with 2 inch diam big end journals)

Bernie J.

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

Great thread, and no not knocking MGs at all - I am a fan, and even a quasi MGA owner once, for a week but that's a whole other story... :) I just wanted to point out just how rare these cars are!! Thanks for posting!

BTW - interesting, as I always thought the British term "light" referred neither to windows or actual lights, but seating. Now the mystery is solved!

Tops are hoods, Hoods are Bonnets, it's all rather confusing to a Yank.... :D

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

Hi Steve

You missed the other important one. Fenders are "WINGS" or in Austspeak mudguards.

Sorry! I have owned almost as many MGs as Rileys but PLEASE do not call me an MG enthusiast! It just took me longer to find out how bad they are. I thought that they were all Morris Minors.

I do not have either Octagonal eyes or MG written all over my underpants. And yes I do have two eyes. Some of my best friends own MGs, which just goes to prove that I am kind to dumb animals...

Bernie J.

MG Midget, MGB, MGBGT x2, MGZA Magnet x2, MG Ytype plus several Morris 8 & 10 Specials.

All long gone thank goodness

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

Steve is of course quite correct! With a total production figure of under 400 they are rare however with what is probably the best survival rate for any single model over 50 years old they don't seem all that rare. There were THREE Rapiers on the VSCC Inner Urban Rally in Melbourne (Aust) on Sunday, plus another Rapier owner who was in his Lagonda 3 Litre but only one MG TA. The one problem is that Rapier owners love driving them.

Having said all that I would hope that we can hear from some other Lagonda Rapier owners (past and present) from all around the world, especially some of the Americans. We know that you are out there....

Bernie J.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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What makes Lagonda Rapiers so great.

The heart of the matter is the engine. For those you could not understand the copy of the original factory drawings here is photograph of a standard 1100cc Rapier engine.

Bernie J

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Happy Christmas to all British car enthusiasts where ever you may be.

Bernie J

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Posted (edited)

[ATTACH]114249

Congratulations for adding a Proper car to the Forum. Besides BLP79, the 2011 Register lists JY6305, YG9142, BGT258 AND BPJ303 as residing on the North American continent, there must be others hiding somewhere, perhaps visitors to this thread could be prevailed upon to provide details if they know of any?

Ken

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Edited by Ken Douch (see edit history)

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For those interested in trivia, Ken's Rapier is a Abbott body tourer. Ken is just the second owner from new. He has recently finished restoring it following a long long hibernation in a lock up garage in the UK.

I can only repeat his plea, anyone with knowledge of one of these fascinating little cars anywhere in North America,or for that matter anywhere in the world. Please let us know.

After all the Lagonda Rapier has one of the best survival rates of any one model, anywhere!

Bernie J.

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Actually, Bernie, the car has been in a garage in North America since 1980. The circumstances of my buying the car were that a friend's mother knew Margaret Stenning and reported that the car was for sale after David's death. By chance, I was due to visit my parents in England so we all went and had a look at the car, and, as the price was right, ended up by shipping it to Montreal - as a retirement project. Although retirement came in 1993, restoration really didn't really start until we'd set up shop here in British Columbia,around 2000. The last registration disc on the car was 1973. My own barn find!

Ken

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Posted (edited)

For some unaccountable reason "KG" our Rapier had developed an air leak somewhere between the carburettors (Twin SU) and the cylinder head. This has resulted in an inability to slow the idle speed down to less that 1500 rpm. It usually idles at 800 rpm. Both carbs have been stripped down and checked, the faces of the manifolds checked to make sure that they were flat and the flange of the carbs checked in the same way. There is no excessive wear on the throttle spindles. These were replaced not all that long ago. New gaskets have been cut and the two short sections of rubber hose connecting the balance tube have been replaced. I am now about to go and assemble it all back together Fingers crossed. We have our first event for 2012 at the weekend.

After some final small adjustments it seem that my efforts have not been in vain.

It is now ticking over at a nice steady 800 rpm.

Bernie J.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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Hi Ken

That is obviously an old photograph of your engine, are you still using the RAG carbs? I must confess I had never heard of them before your contribution to "Ever Keen". I note that they are on an original inlet manifold. I gave up using one of those long before when rebuilt KG in 1978 and have used "Barkers" ever since the late 1960s or early 1970s,

I have actually traced the trouble back to the angles on the ball ends on the short link between the bulkhead lever and the throttle spindle. That and the angle and length of the primary pull off spring.

Why this has become an issue after so many years I fail to comprehend. I think it may even go right back to when Beatrice Shilling was racing the car in the 1950-60s.

It is probably since I de-tuned the engine about five years ago to make it more tractable for road use that idle speed has become an issue. After all who expects a 2 OHC engine with 10.5:1 comp, lumpy cams and big valves to idle at 800 rpm?

I must be getting old.

Bernie J.

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Posted (edited)

Hello again Ken

I have managed to dig out an out photograph of KG in Beatrice Shilling form taken at Cadwell Park with a desperate David Seath at the wheel probably about 1974/5 before he migrated to Australia.

cheers

Bernie J

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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For you Lagonda guys....San Diego car consignment place.

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Hi Keiser31

You sure get about. That is a very nice 3 Litre, they are a great car but rather large and heavy. I have owned two a 1928 Tourer and a 1934 Maltby Drop Head Coupe.

Rapiers are very different and were only made in minuscule numbers. If you would like to learn more about what makes these little cars so fantastic you can get a copy of the limited (350 copies) edition book I edited for the Rapier Register from the Secretary <rapierregister@gmail.com> (Dewi Williams) There just a few copies left.

Bernie J.

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Posted (edited)

The big thing about these little cars is just how user friendly they are. Last night we competed in the VSCC of Aust. Night Navigation Trial. Now written into the script was torrential rain and gale force winds. Having completed the first 30 or so miles wisdom prevailed and we erected the hood (Top). From door to door we completed 180 miles at an average 45 mph. Mainly over extremely dark and wet country roads driving mainly at between 55 and 65mph. We arrived home at around 1.30 am. The Rapier is seen here at the Finish Control alongside a fellow competitors Model A.

Difficult as it may be to believe this is the same car as seen racing in the UK in the photograph in the earlier(#20) post.

Bernie J.

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)

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Saw an episode of "Poirot" last night and I thought I saw them use a white Lagonda. BEAUTIFUL car!

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Hi Keiser31

I am not sure about the Poirot that you saw but Capt Hastings, Poirot's assistant, drives a dark green 2 Litre Lagonda in most episodes.

Bernie J.

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