Lagonda V12 Rapide
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5
No "real world" road test of a V-12 Lagonda Rapide has ever been published but several tests of the standard V-12 were available for reference. This is not a report on an actual test made but rather is a synthesis of material published at the time the V12 Rapide was built. We have left the wording, while somewhat old fashioned, as it read back in 1939.
...Announced last year, the completely re-designed Lagonda Lire of cars includes a new Rapide model, available with a choice of 4.5 litre engines - either with 6 or with 12 cylinders. This is a test report on the V-12 powered model which has a slightly shorter wheelbase than the six and carried a special axle ratio of 4.27 instead of the 4.45 ratio supplied with other V-12 body styles.
The curb weight of the new Rapide is very little less than the 4-passenger drophead and quite a great deal more (693 lbs) than the 1937 Rapide 2/4 passenger tourer. However the 30 added horses, combined with 26% more engine revolutions per mile give both fewer lbs/bhp and a better high gear performance factor.
Therefore it was not surprising to find that the V-12 Rapide performs slightly better than the earlier model. However we cannot say as much for the new 6-cylinder Rapide which, even though not tested, cannot begin to approach the "old" Rapide performance because of the considerable added weight.
The new type Rapide body is certainly a far cry from the traditional open-sports-tourer types and there is no denying that its comfort features are very nice to have. And when one feels so inclined, the windows disappear, the top folds neatly out of sight and the windscreen can even be folded forward. In this guise few people realize that this is not an open roadster body. While designed primarily as a 3-seater there is an additional seat which folds out and allows one adult fair comfort though facing 90c to the line of travel.
On the Road
The new independent front suspension chassis is a revelation, giving as it does a really superb ride under all conditions and steering and roadholding which is without parallel in the luxury car field. The steering is not low geared at 3.5 turns, but is accurate at all speeds and parking effort is moderate. There is no trace of road wheel movement or road shock and the driver comes up to a fast corner, turns the wheel and the car goes around with consummate ease.
The tachometer is red-lined at 5500 rpm and speeds of up to 5000 rpm at any rate are attained with little or no sign of strain. Despite the axle ratio, pulling power at low speeds is not as impressive as the older cars - this engine is designed for high speeds and doesn't really come into its stride until 3000 rpm. Nevertheless the V-12 engine is flexible enough to give a top gear range of from 10 to 110 miles per hour. Second gear is now synchronized and most drivers would use this ratio for slow speed trickling with up to nearly 70 miles per hour available for spurts if desired. Obviously this short-stroke engine is designed to be extremely flexible and despite the rather extreme axle ratio employed the theoretical cruising speed of this machine is over 10 miles per hour higher than the 1937 car.
Inevitably the buyer pays for the additional weight and comfort features. The fuel consumption is no better than 10 mpg if the car is used in a moderately vigorous fashion. Also, the V12 engine appears something of a beast to service and when is all said and done, we somehow are reluctant to admit that this is progress.
1939 Lagonda V-12 Rapide Quick Specifications
- PRICE: $7680 at launch in New York, 1939
- ENGINE: V-12 4480cc SOHC, Bore and Stroke 2.95 x 3.33, Displacement 273.3 cubic inches, Compression Ratio 7.0, Horsepower 180 (peaking at 5500 rpm and theoretical top speed of 116 miles per hour), 220 ft. lbs. torque (peaking at 2800 rpm @ 59.1 miles per hour)
- TRANSMISSION: Four speed manual; ratios, first 13.9:1; second 7.13:1; third 5.34:1, final drive 4.27:1 drive 1:1; rear axle 4.27:1.
- SUSPENSION: Front independent, by coil springs and wishbones; independent at rear; telescopic hydraulic shock-absorbers all round.
- WHEELS: Pressed-steel discs, with 6.40 by 13in. tyres.
- BRAKES: Hydraulic, 2 I.s. front; 95 sq. in. lining area.
- DIMENSIONS: Cruciform Chassis - Wheelbase 124 in.; tread in. 60, tyre size 6.50 x 18
- KERB WEIGHT: 4250 lbs unladen.
- PERFORMANCE: Maximum speed: 110 m.p.h. average. Maximum in Indirect Gears: 1st 36 mph @ 5500 rpm; 2nd 69 mph @ 5500 rpm; Third 93 mph @ 5500 rpm. Acceleration (from rest through gears): 0-30, 3.9s.; 0-40, 6.4s.; 0-50, 9.5s.; 0-60, 12.5s.; 0-70, 17.5s.; 0-80, 23s, 0-90 30.0s
- FUEL CONSUMPTION: 10-12 mpg. Speedo: Indicated 30 mph / Actual 30 mph - Indicated 60 mph / Actual 60.9 mph - Indicated 90 mph / Actual 92.5 mph - Indicated 108 mph / Actual 112.2 mph.