1934 Lagonda M45
A true Gentleman’s Express, the M45 Lagonda epitomises the great British tradition for fast touring cars in the 1930‘s, with its long rakish bonnet and stylish lines, powerful 4.5-litre engine and impressive performance. In the words of Motor Sport in January 1934 ‘Lagonda cars have always upheld a reputation for effortless fast touring and the pride of ownership which fine detail work and distinguished coachbuilding can give. The 4.5-litre model retains these characteristics, but scores considerably over its forebears by its high power-to-weight ratio. The chassis is no bigger than the same three litre car, and there is no suggestion of clumsiness, heavy steering or the other drawbacks which often accompany the large engined car.
The Lagonda car company was founded in 1906 in Stains Middlesex by American born Wilbur Gun. Starting off building motorcycles at his house in Staines, he experienced early success winning the 1905 London to Edinburgh Trial. In 1907 he launched his first car and went on to win the Moscow to St. Petersburg Trial in a 16/18hp model just three years later in 1910. Wilbur Gun died in 1920 but Lagonda went on to stamp its mark on the motoring world.
Having established its reputation with the production of light cars by the mid 1920’s, Lagonda started to concentrate on sporting and luxury models. Starting with the four cylinder 2-litre 14/60, they introduced the first of their own six cylinder 3-litre models in 1929. By the early 1930’s the powerful, twin plug, six cylinder 4.5-litre Medows engine was seen as the way forward and the M45 was launched at the 1933 Olympia Motor Show. These big engined handsome open tourers created a considerable impression from the moment they arrived. The saloons were capable of 90mph and the tourers 100mph.
This wonderfully documented example was completed on the 21st of March 1934 and was delivered from the Lagonda factory to a Mr. P. R. Shackel on the 19th of April 1934. It remained with the Shackel family until the outbreak of war when it was laid up. It is believed to have remained with the same family on into the 1950’s.
Purchased in 1951 by Dr. K J Dudding of 137 London Rd., Braintree, Essex, from Dobson’s garage in Stains, who specialised in selling Lagonda cars. Dr. Dudding was contacted by a previous owner and apparently the car had done approximately 30,000 miles when bought it. In his ownership he made two trips to Scotland. AXP 566 first came known to the Lagonda Club in 1954 and it was about this time that Dr. Dudding sold the car a Mr. Nichols. According to Mr. Nichols’ wife, he kept the car until at least 1962 and it was purchased by Mr. Perkins of Chelmsford in 1964.
Mr. Perkins who is well known for his restorations on several veteran and vintage cars, restored the car to a very high standard in 1966. Clearly proud of his work, the car still caries a plaque on the dashboard stating ‘Restored by R M Perkins Chelmsford 1966’. He used the car for family touring and some rallies up until 1983 when it was purchased by Paradise Garage.
At this time the car was apparently in first class condition although the oil pressure in the engine was slightly low. Subsequently the engine was dismantled, the block rebored, the crank reground and new white metal big ends and mains machined.
The car was then sold to a Mr. Rodney Drake P Mitchell of Market Harborough and registered in his name on the 27th of November 1984. Primarily Hong Kong based, he rarely used the car. It was apparently carefully stored during his ownership, with the engine run up once a week. He sold the car back to Paradise garage two years later in September 1986, when it was purchased, that same year, by Mr. Athos Eliades. The extensive history file that accompanies the car features numerous invoices from over Mr. Eliades ownership for maintenance by Aston Services Dorset and Vintage Coachworks at the famous Pheonix Inn (of VSCC fame). He took the car on the Mille Miglia in 1989 and 1991, successfully finishing on both occasions and went on to win the London to Reims Rally in 1988.
In 1991 AXP 566 was purchased by well known Lagonda enthusiast Daniel Ghose of Brooklyn Heights, New York. During his ten year ownership he also took the car on the Mille Migila. In July 2001 ownership passed to Howarth C Gilmore of New Jersey. This history file contained numerous invoices and correspondences from through out Mr. Ghose and Mr. Gilmore’s ownership as well as photographs and articles featuring Mr. Gilmore showing and racing the car.
AXP 566 was then purchased by Brian Classic in late 2004 before returning to the UK where it was sold to its current owner in April 2005. AXP 566 has been well loved in its current ownership. Professionally maintained, it has been used extensively for rallies and tours, both private and public. He has competed in the Mille Miglia, the Flying Scotsman and the Argentine Millie as well as racing the car at Le Mans Classic.
Still retaining its original T7 coachwork, it is a pleasure to find a car with such wonderful patina as this. At some point prior to Mr. Ghose’s ownership the original engine was changed to the engine that is in the car to this day. When this was done, pre or post War we can not say at this time. Fast, exciting and surprisingly agile to drive, this is a car that inspires you to take to the open road and yearn for adventure. This, combined with such a well known and detailed history, offers a rare opportunity and an ideal car for the many long legged international tours and rallies like the Mille Milia, Flying Scotsman and even further afield.