07 April 2011
David Wright explores Aston Martin’s historic roots with the Lagonda car company. ...
What a lovely and evocative name Lagonda is – ever wondered where it came from?
Well, it is an original Shawnee Indian name for a small town in Springfield, Ohio, called Buck Creek. It was here in 1859 that one Wilbur Gunn was born. Wilbur’s father founded the Lagonda Corporation, making tube-cleaning machinery.
Young Wilbur was interested in both engineering and in singing, and he came to Britain as an opera singer. He built a steam yacht called Giralda, claimed to be the fastest boat on the Thames, and then began, as did so many other motor manufacturers, making motorcycles in 1898 from the greenhouse of his home in Staines.
The Lagonda Company in Great Britain was formally founded in 1899, making 1999 its centenary. A major programme of centenary events were well-organised by the Lagonda Club Ltd in that year, proving that there is a very strong following for Wilbur’s legacy.
The motorbikes were successful and enabled him to progress to 3-wheelers in 1904. A succession of 4-wheel cars using progressively larger engines were developed and raced at Brooklands in 1909. After a particularly successful Moscow – St Petersburg reliability trial in 1910, orders came rushing in from Russia, and were equipped with a six cylinder 30hp engine. None of these early cars are known to survive but, who knows, maybe there is one somewhere over in Russia?