In 1936 Lagonda, under the direction of W.O. Bentley, prepared four factory race cars for the semi-official Fox & Nicholls team. These would promote the LG45 chassis which brought Lagonda into the luxury car market.
These special competition variants included a pair of four-seat Le Mans-style tourers and another pair of more sporting two-seat tourers.
These cars were typically painted Fox & Nicholls’ normal racing red livery and competed at the top level of motor sports. The cars were first seen at the 1936 Grand Prix de l’ACF at Montlhéry and continued a long career at tracks like Le Mans and Brooklands.
Riding on the 1935 Lagonda victory at Le Mans, Fox & Nicholls took one LG45 to contest the 24 hour race. Driven by Charles Brackenbury and John Hindmarsh but retired during the night with mechanical trouble.
Later, the Le Mans car, ‘EPE 97’ was loaned to loaned to Alan Hess to set a new 1-hour sports car record of 104.4 miles around the Brooklands circuit. Driven in the wet, and in full touring trim with headlights and a passenger, this Lagonda became the fastest production model in Britain.
Later, Lagonda developed a special body by Frank Freely to sell road-going versions of the LG45 Rapide to the public. Only 25 such replicas were made.
Sales and Chassis
12111 – Registered ‘EPE97’ this is the Alan Hess Sports Car record breaking car and one of the most well known of all Lagondas. It reached an average speed of 104.4 mph around Brooklands for a complete hour. It also competed in the 1936 Grand Prix de L’ACF, 1936 and 1937 RAC Tourist Trophy,1936 BRDC Brooklands 500-Mile Race, 1937 Le Mans, 1952 Goodwood Nine Hours. After the war, the car was recommissioned by Joe Goodhew who lowered the body 10 inches and raced the sixteen year old car in the 1953 Goodwood Nine Hours.
Colonel L.S. Michael then bought the car and raced it in more than 120 events. By 1974 the car was restored, including repatching 10 inches of height back into the body and was used little until its sale by auction in 1987. Afterwards it was actively used in historic racing with its original engine crated. The car was auctioned by Bonhams at their 2008 Quail Lodge sale for $1,382,000 USD inclusive of buyer’s premium.