Antony Bowie (The EX1 Special)

Lagonda 2.6 Special. This car was advertised for sale in 1994 when the asking price was in the region of £35,000 (complete with damaged spare engine). The car was described as "1947 Lagonda Prototype Sports Racing Car, Chassis no. EX1". It was originally badged LAGONDA-BENTLEY which caused Rolls-Royce to sue and the Lagonda company's collapse.

The car in its current form was the product of staff at the company when it was in receivership and endevouring to manufacture a one-off sports racing car based on the prototype 2.6 chassis from the first prototype LBS/EX1. The car had been crashed and substantially stripped for spares and was rebodied as a lightweight, open two seater. Major suspension modifications were made to lower the car which was fitted with a tuned engine, this was moved slightly rearward, together with a close-ratio gearbox. The rear outriggers on the chassis were removed and the fuel tank repositioned.

The idea behind building the car was to offer prospective buyer David Brown a car for racing use, as a possible rival to the prototype DB2 Aston Martin that was being developed then.

In 1981 an Ian Harris went to a farm sale in Lincolnshire to buy some hay. He spotted the partly hidden wreck in a farm outbuilding and on a more detailed look he found the crushed bodywork contained a Bentley engine of a similar type to the one he was fitting in his latest restoration project, an Aston Martin DB2. Realising that any spares might come in handy he bought the car for £50. On getting it home he found that it was something a bit more special. The plate on the bulkhead read LAG/49/77 and after a full investigation by Arnold Davey the car was found to be the first car built by Lagonda after the war and the last involving W.O.Bentley. The car was named LBS EX1 and was built to rival the prototype Aston Martin DB2 at the 1949 Le Mans. The Aston Martin was finished ahead of the Lagonda and competed in the 1949 Le Mans race.

The car was fully restored with the original body panels being removed and reshaped by hand. The engine was rebuilt to give about 140bhp, resulting in speeds in excess of 150mph.

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE (01/08/2010)
This car was sold at the H&H Auction in Buxton on 21 July 2010, a note was added to the catalogue description which brings into question some of the earlier information contained in the above article which when written was thought to be correct. The auctioneers added note reads as follows:-

PLEASE NOTE: Since the catalogue went to press we have been informed by Arnold Davey of the Lagonda Club that 'LBS EX1' is the only prototype '2.5 Litre' chassis to have survived (though, most of its running gear has been replaced over the years). Apparently, EX2 and EX3 were fitted with new chassis before being sold as production cars. The Lagonda Club has also been sent photos within the last few years which show 'LBS EX1' was converted into a Service Van and used as a tender for the AML Works Team during the mid 1950s. As such, its current two-seater configuration is thought to have been the handiwork of an unknown special builder.

For interest the car sold for 45,100 which includes a 10% buyers premium.

Antony Bowie