1951 Lagonda 2.6 Litre sedan – Alec McKernan

In December 2009 we bought a 1951 2.6 litre twin cam 6 cylinder Lagonda sedan from a Bowral deceased estate the owner of which had commenced taking the car apart to restore. All doors, mudguards, seats and body panels had been removed and the engine, gear box etc were left intact and stored in a shed some years before he died.

With help of Bob Douglas, Ron Cooper and Graham Bigg we brought the lot home where I commenced planning and then restoration. Lagonda and Aston Martin were bought by David Brown Industries in the UK just after WW2. Lagonda and Aston Martin were expensive cars whose makers could not survive any longer following the many years between WW1 and WW2 of financial turmoil.

In 1947 W.O.Bentley having sold his failing firm to Rolls Royce was engaged by David Brown to design a new car with a modern performance engine to suit, as they had been a tractor and machinery manufacturer only for many years.

It is interesting to note that in 1952 the Lagonda in Australia cost 3800 pounds when the popular Jaguar XK120 here cost just 1900 pounds. Half the price ! 510 Lagonda 2.6 litre cars were made in all, half of which were Tickford 2 door bodied convertibles. 55 Lagondas cars came to Australia from 1949 to 1953. In 1954 the car was upgraded with a new body shape and a 3 litre version of the earlier engine. In addition, the 2.6 engine with higher compression ratio of 10 to 1 was used in the new Aston Martin DB2 model sports car, capable of about 125 mph. The sedan has an aluminium body as steel post-war was in short supply.

After the death of the previous owner his widow advertised the car amongst the local Bowral motoring fraternity only to find that potential buyers were put off by the car being in pieces and thus having suspicions of whether it was complete. On completion of the sale having done a check of all parts I said to the widow that buying a car in pieces gave one an opportunity to check all parts for rust etc. where a complete car 60 years old could conceal rust, “bog” and damaged parts.

The widow having decided to sell her house to move into a retirement village, the car had to be sold soon.

Currently I have the car partly assembled having done some engine work, to a point where I have been driving it up and down the driveway.
Last winter I unbolted the body off the chassis and winched it up to the garage ceiling and was then able to roll the chassis out into the sun to sand it and apply paint, and to inspect the differential which is fixed, and check the swing axles. The rear brakes are mounted in board on the diff and inspection was thus easier. Torsion bars are used on the rear suspension which are adjustable to vary the ride height. The four speed gear box is the same as the Aston Martin unit being also easy to get to.

I am about to apply etch primer and then primer surfacer to the body and panels and in the Spring I hope to be able to apply the colour which will be Jaguar Racing Green, the colour I used on the second Bean. All being well I hope to have the car on Club rego early in 2013.

I know Lagondas are uncommon but recently a guy asked me, “the Lagonda is a product of Italy isn’t it”? The first Lagonda a simple 3 wheeler was made in England in 1907 by 2 Canadian brothers who started up in the UK.

Alec & Anne McKernan