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Airplane Hangar Find: 1985 Aston Martin Lagonda

The Aston Martin Lagonda is one of the more bizarre vehicles ever made, particularly from a company not known for coloring outside of the lines. The Lagonda featured any number of curious design features that almost made it more fun to gawk at than to actually drive. These days, the Lagonda has enjoyed a slight resurgence of popularity after years’ of being considered a bit of a dark point in the company’s history, no doubt helped by reliability issues that follow any low-production luxury car. This particular Lagonda listed here on eBay is said to have been found in an airplane hangar where it had been parked for years after previously being a strong runner.

Mileage is a tick under 70,000 and the current bid price is $15,300 with the reserve unmet. The Lagonda is interesting for reasons beyond its appearance (though that is absolutely the main draw.) The company was in a risky position financially, and needed something – anything – to boost cash reserves. The Lagonda was unveiled as the Hail Mary car, and orders poured in. I often wonder if Aston Martin executives were surprised by this, considering the car’s unusual appearance. Regardless, the tide seemed to be turning in Aston’s direction, at least before the quality control concerns began to dominate the conversation.

While there were undoubtedly issues, I can forgive some of the faults considering Aston was trying to introduce a new breed of executive transport with the Lagonda. The interior was about as forward-thinking as you could make it, with that insane digital dash chief among the design features that set the Lagonda apart. It was as if an Atari engineer was brought into the design charette that led the creation of the space age cockpit. This Aston also features the fascinating single-spoke steering wheel, another feature that shows Aston wasn’t afraid to fly its freak flag high.

A 5.3L V8 resided under the hood, and its mediocre reliability coupled with poor fuel economy didn’t help the Lagonda’s reputation. Despite its futuristic appearance and initial burst of popularity with Aston enthusiasts, electrical issues quickly became the main talking point around the company’s flagship sedan. Today, they are regarded with more appreciation than in the past, when the Lagonda landed on numerous lists and rankings of ill repute. As an icon of the 80s, it’s hard to top the Lagonda as a bastion of futuristic design and whiz-bang gadgetry.


  1. alphasud Member

    Really good write up Jeff. I can only imagine the level of difficulty to bring back a Lagonda from a long slumber. I think it deserves its name in the history books as the car that tried to kill Aston Martin. Or more specifically the electronic dashboard that tried to kill Aston Martin.

    Like 9
  2. Ken

    Despite all it’s faults, I do love the unusual styling of the Lagonda. Not enough to own one.

    Also, thank you Jeff for introducing me to the word, “charrette.”

    Like 6
  3. Douglas Plumer

    Amazing car but could be a large investment to get it perfect again. I would check the futuristic LCD mono-gauge cluster. A known weak point and created from unobtanium. Best of luck!

    Like 2
  4. Jack

    I lived in England in the 80s and I visited the Aston Martin factory. It was fascinating to see the production line. The finished car coming off had been started three months previously. All of the panels were hand beaten over fixtures. The amount of labor to the last detail was incredible. There were five employees assigned to the engine room, each built one of the 5.3L V-8s per week. This limited annual output to 250 vehicles. After completion the engine builder would affix a plaque to the valve cover with his name. He then owned that engine. If there was a mechanical issue it would come back to him. Those were different times but these cars were not all bad. The digital dash is the Achilles heel, the 4 cam V8 is wonderful

    Like 8
  5. gippy

    Fuel economy was not an issue for those with the cash to buy one, but standing alongside the Motorway in the rain as the plebeians passed by honking their horns certainly was. The styling was pure 80’s and the basic reliability was no worse than any other limited production car, but that premature technology was a killer. Somewhere looking down, old Joseph Lucas was probably saying ” That’ll teach you to make fun of MY stuff”.

    Like 5
  6. Bakes

    I remember when this car came out I thought it was somewhere between unusual and stunning but I could never quite decide which. Would definitely be an amazing car if it was reliable. My temptation would be to take a current digital dash and replace the trouble prone one but being able to figure out the wiring for such a conversion could be daunting.

    Like 0
    • SubGothius

      I gather a conversion to analog gauges is available, or of course nowadays you could probably just retrofit a modern aftermarket digital dash display.

      Like 3
    • SubGothius

      Also found this interesting history of Lagonda digital dashes, of which this one would appear to have the first-gen LED display:


      Like 2
      • alphasud Member

        Thanks for that link. I remembered they had 3 versions with the LED being the first but I couldn’t remember which one came after the LED. Never a big fan of digital dashboards but the Lagonda is different due to the companies struggles to stay afloat in the pursuit of being cutting edge. Love or hate the sharp design I think it’s brilliant. Back in the 70’s if you were wealthy the ultra luxury upper crust cars were all very conservative and old in design. Sure you could have a bespoke car to your liking but the Lagonda was from a different planet.

        Like 3
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        After reading that very interesting article about the dashboards, I noticed that there is something off about this listed vehicle.

        If it is a 1985, and that is a true interior shot of this vehicle, then it has the early first gen capacitive touch button dash and steering wheel where the 1985 should have the 3rd and last-gen more reliable (and boring) LCD gauges.

        And, it looks to have the 2nd gen console.

        I am far from a Lagonda expert, but this one looks pieced together and might be why it did not sell.

        Like 1
  7. stembridge

    I was an industrial design student in 1985, and the Lagonda sure got our attention! IIRC, they sent a tailor out to take your measurements for use when crafting the interior. “Dress left or right, sir?”

    Like 3
  8. Joeee

    Appears there is a black one right next to it. I met Evil Knievel in Spokane when he drove his over from Montana to check on a bar he had won in a poker game. Small world!

    Like 1
  9. Joe Mec Member

    It’s a big square vehicle! Is it worth the investment to bring it back because it is an Aston Martin? To me, when I think of Aston Martin, I think of the DB series…. ( yes, I am older). When I watch the older version of the ‘The Italian Job” I cringe to see them crush a DB and throw it off the side of a mountain!!
    No interest in this vehicle!!

    Like 0
  10. Solosolo UK Solosolo UK Member

    There is a gentleman here in UK that hires out cars and motorcycles to the film industry and he now owns at least 24 Aston Martin Lagonda’s along with about 300 other classic cars. I had a 1980 model in 2003 which didn’t have the digital dashboard so never gave any problems. It was a wonderful car, heavy on petrol and the rear seat had very little leg room for such a big car. Sold it to a fellow club member who sold it to one of his friends who just had to have it about 2 months later. The friendship soon died when my friend discovered that his friend had sold it for a great profit only 3 days after buying it!

    Like 4
  11. Dan

    What’s guaranteed is that you’ll be a real standout at C&C with this car. I’m not seeing these surging in value as Jeff is implying, but the abundance of software engineers who can design an onboard computer to handle the complex electronics can make this car roadworthy from an electrical standpoint; that still leaves the engine rebuild to deal with. I can see spending close to $100K to get this running again but that investment will never be recouped.

    Like 0
  12. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Looks like an 80s Volvo’s smarter brother.

    Like 3
  13. Frank Barrett Member

    Years ago, a dark red one just like this used to drive by my house. First time I saw it, I was slack-jawed and just about fell over! Before bidding, consult with a Lagonda expert. I remember an old Road & Track article describing the owners of various marques that concluded, “NO ONE drives a Lagonda!”

    Like 0
    • Solosolo UK

      That’s like saying “Nobody drives a de Soto”

      Like 0
  14. Jerry

    The Good News: your rich uncle died and left you an Aston Martin
    The Bad News: It’s a Lagonda

    Like 3
  15. Larry D*

    Built from (model years)1975 to 1990, these cars sell for more than their reputation might indicate. 5 sold in the last year (2-23 to 2-24) with a low price of $33K and a high price of $123, with the most recent selling at $53K. 645 were built.

    Like 0
  16. Daniel

    “Easy project.”

    Yeah, right.

    Like 0
  17. Big C

    Did every English engineer that worked in their auto industry flunk the electronics class in University?

    Like 1
    • Solosolo UK Solosolo UK Member

      With every single British car that I have owned that had any sort of electrical problem, and there were very few, the problem was 99% of the time due to a bed earth (Ground in American parlance). So I don’t think it was the electrical engineers that were flunking their classes but the electricans that were working on the cars that had forgotten the absolute necessity of having a good earth.

      Like 1

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