Thursday, August 1, 2013

Aston Martin Lagonda 2: Too Long, Too Low?

Lagonda was a British maker of sporting, luxurious cars whose products reached their apogee in the years prior to World War 2.  After the war, the firm was purchased by David Brown and then consolidated with his Aston Martin operation.  Production dwindled to an end in the late 1950s.

Nearly 20 years later, Aston Martin revived the brand in the form of the extremely expensive Aston Martin Lagonda (Wikipedia entry here).  A Series 1 design was soon replaced by the Series 2 styled by William Towns and produced in limited numbers from 1979 to 1985.  Later, facelifted series were then introduced, but production ended in 1990 following continued low sales.

The Aston Martin Lagonda (I'm referring to Series 2 and later) was controversial.  One problem was the incorporation of advanced (for the time) electronics that suffered from reliability problems.  Styling was also controversial, and I'll deal with that here.

During the 1970s a major automobile styling fashion was stark, nearly flat body panels.  Greenhouses featured large areas of glass, and roofs were thin.  The overall effect was a trim, angular, simple, rather classical appearance.  This fashion came to an end during the 1980s when automobile companies had to make their cars more efficient aerodynamically.


Although the AM Lagonda has interesting styling details, in my judgment the design suffers because of the dimensions of the "package."   The car is simply too long and too low; its proportions would make almost any styling seem wrong.  This is most evident in the side view above, but also can be seen in the upper image.  Notice that top of the front wheel housing opening comes so close to the top of the front fender that the fender seems pinched off at that point.  This effect is exaggerated by the long front overhang that adds visual bulk to the front of the car.   If the fenders, roof, hood and trunk had been raised even two or three inches (5-8 cm) and the overhang was reduced perhaps six inches (15 cm), the car would have been better proportioned.  And it would have looked more conventional, less distinctive.

The Wikipedia entry states that only 645 of the Series 2-4 cars were built.  Given that even the newest ones are now nearly 30 years old, AM Lagondas are seldom seen.  Lucky me, I encountered one while driving on a motorway in England last summer between the Lake District and York.  Low and angular it was.

No comments: