Prince wasn’t game to part with his Lagonda

When Australia hosted the Olympics in 1956, the late Prince Phillip shipped his car out so he could drive it while he was here.

That car was a specially customised Aston Martin Lagonda.

Launched in 1953, it was a car favoured by the rich, royals and celebrities.

The Duke of Edinburgh owned a Lagonda convertible.

He had it fitted with a telephone.

This was an almost unheard-of combination of luxury and technology in 1953. 

The white handset was fitted between the front seats with a long cord that allowed back seat passengers to use it.

Another one-off bit of extravagance was a power convertible roof.

This saved the duke the drudgery of having to get out of the car and mess around with doing it himself.

Plus, it would so undignified having wait at the kerb while a royal footman performed the task.

Canberra Times Nov 21 1956
Canberra Times, Nov 21, 1956


In 1953, David Brown, who owned Aston Martin and Lagonda, released two cars that became the favourites of those with plenty of money.

Brown had acquired Aston Martin and Lagonda in 1947. 

He bought the latter because of its W.O. Bentley-designed 2.6 litre six-cylinder engine.

His first unveiling, those 70 years ago, was the Aston Martin DB2/4

It was a slightly longer version of the 1950 DB2.

The 99 inch/2515mm wheelbase and slightly raised roof line allowed just enough room for a very small rear seat.

This 2+2 could be handcrafted for you as a hatchback or convertible. 

In its day it was an exotic and powerful sports tourer. 

Its first power plant was Bentley’s 2.6-litre six engine that developed 92kW/125 hp.

In 1954 the engine was expanded to 2.9 litres (the brochures rounded that up the three litres) and power was upped to 103kW/140 hp.

Top speed was just short of 120mph/193km/h.

This car set the template for the Aston Martins that followed.

A friend of my parents bought a second hand DB2/4 in 1960.

Although I was only five years old at the time, I recall seeing it for the first time.

It was as if a space ship had landed in our driveway.

Neighbours came from everywhere to look at it.

And to ask how much it cost! 

That bit of information was never revealed.

The 1953 Lagonda was the second series of the marque under the guidance of Brown. 

It was built by his subsidiary, Tickford, as a coupe and convertible, and came with the 3.0-litre Bentley’s engine. 

To put the luxury Lagonda into a size context, its length was about the same as the 1953 Chevrolet.

That made it quite a large car.

The royal family must have been impressed by the Lagonda, because Aston Martin gained its first Royal Warrant.

And what would the DB2/4 and Lagonda cost, I hear you ask?

I must say, I’m surprised by your question.

Surely you have staff who could manage those pesky matters of costs and payments when the invoice is presented by the dealer?

However, if you insist, the DB2/4 is around six times the price of a new Triumph Standard 8, which is £481.

The Lagonda is about seven times the price, not including the telephone nor powered convertible roof. 

For those extras, it’s POA.

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos


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