New V12 Lagonda SHOCK!
Aston Martin not only has the DB7 to show at Geneva,
but also a flamboyant new Lagonda.
March 3rd 1993
Peter Robinson
courtesy and copyright of Autocar

This is the new Laguna – a luxurious four-door saloon aimed at giving a resurgent Aston Martin a true rival for Rolls-Royce.

Unveiled at the Geneva show today (3 March) along with the new Aston Martin DB7, the Lagonda Vignale is the creation of a small team from Ford’s Ghia studio in Turin.

This is the first Lagonda since the last of the 645 William Towns-designed cars was finished in May 1990. The Vignale couldn’t be more different in appearance to its predecessor, although it too is both flamboyant and individual.

Today the Lagonda is a concept car, a striking visionary that – like Giugiaro’s new Bugatti EB112 saloon concept – snubs its nose at the egalitarian ‘90s.

However, there’s a possibility that it could be used by Ford as a small-volume production sample to test new extruded aluminium frame and aluminium body construction methods. Alternatively, if enough interest is shown at Geneva, the Lagonda could be built at Newport Pagnell using the prototype’s steel perimeter frame chassis (from the Lincoln Town Car) and incorporating Aston’s de Dion rear suspension and a V12 version of Ford’s modular all-alloy 4.6-litre dohc V8.

“Although we have no firm programme for the production of a car of this type,” says Aston Martin Lagonda chairman Walter Hayes, “we believe it is appropriate to investigate and research its appeal with potential customers.”

Hayes took over the reigns at Aston Martin from Victor Gauntlett in September 1991. As a former vice-chairman of Ford of Europe, he was well aware of the design resources available within Ford and first discussed the possibility of a new Lagonda with Ford’s US design chief, Jack Telnack, and international design boss, Tom Scott, in May last year.

Ghia had been working intermittently on a super-luxury car. The idea of creating a Lagonda for the ‘90s focussed its objectives.

Coincidentally, the Lagonda is the work of 34-year-old Scottish designer Moray Callum, whose brother Ian is responsible for the design of the DB7.

Whereas the Towns-designed Lagonda is flat and squared off, the Vignale has swoopy multi-curved panels, a contemporary interpretation of the vertical Lagonda grille, a high waistline with shallow glass areas (including a small inset rear window), and a tapered and elegantly sloping tail. The stubby nose, relatively short overhangs, immense doors and low rear cleverly disguise the car’s size.

Without another car as reference, the Lagonda doesn’t look anything as big as a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit II, yet it’s both taller (1449mm) and wider (1955mm), although at 5236mm it’s not quite as long. It sits on a 3118mm wheelbase and wears giant 19ins rims carrying 255/50 Goodyear tyres.

The interior is huge, even stately, with four massive seats and a virtually flat floor with no step-down. Yet it also incorporates advanced electrics for the steering wheel and seat adjustment, navigational system, automatic gearbox selector and a desktop computer built into a tray in the back of one of the front seats.

The interior is the work of David Wilkie, another Scot, while Sally Wilson, an English designer who worked on the Ghia Focus, choose natural materials – aniline-dyed leather, nickel instead of chrome, brass and beachwood for the instrument panel – to create a sumptuous club atmosphere.