Motoring Trailblazers - Aston Martin Lagonda

Sun 20th May 2018

The world of motoring seems to be hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Aston Martin Lagonda
Founded in 1904 and acquired by Aston Martin in 1947, the Lagonda brand has never had a long stint of success within the stable of one of the UK’s most prestigious car manufacturers.

We saw the Lagonda Rapide arrive in 1964 and this was followed by the V8 based four-door Mk1 Lagonda was launched in 1974 at the London Motor Show but was essentially a revamped version of the Aston Martin V8.

It wasn’t until William Towns redesigned both the interior and exterior of the Lagonda that things started to get interesting. Towns has something of a reputation for working on futuristic cars, he had previously been involved in the Minissima, the Microdot and the Hustler, which are all worthy of their own recognition, but it was the Lagonda which was a forerunner for so many vehicles we see today.

The exterior was a little derivative of the classic ‘folded paper’ wedge designs which were popular in the 1970s. This style was matched by the interior, which had an all-leather club ethos. However, it is the state-of-the-art instrumentation which left the largest legacy of all.

Built as one of the most expensive saloons in the world at the time, with only the Rolls Royce Silver Spirit and Bentley Mulsanne getting anywhere near it in terms of price.

It was the electronics which possibly accounted for the high-end price-tag, development of the digital instrument panel, the development cost of which was four times as much the budget for the whole car. Fitted with digital LED dashboards and touch pad controls when the Mk2 was launched in 1976, the onboard computer was based on the same system which was at the heart of the Pac-Man arcade machines.

Aston Martin ‘improved’ their digital display by introducing cathode ray instruments with the Mk3, essentially a TV screen in your dash, and then changed that to a vacuum fluorescent display which had been adopted by Vauxhall, but were more of a nod to the original 1976 design.

Lagonda’s dedication to hi-spec dashboard controls became the benchmark, and some would argue that it’s only with the recent adoption of smartscreen technology that the industry has finally caught up.

What dashboard technology are you looking for in a new motor? has a wide range of options available.