|The Louwman Museum's 1939 Lagonda Lancefield Coupe (from the collection of the author)|
Dad is in the Hague today visiting one of the finest collections in the world - the Evert Louwman Museum. While I'm stuck back here in the states, we might as well take a look at a few of these wonderful cars - starting with the 1939 Lagonda Lancefield Coupe.
Lagonda, founded by American Wilbur Gunn, was named after Lagonda Creek, near Springfield, Ohio - Gunn's place of birth. Gunn passed away in 1920, but the company soldiered on, winning Le Mans in 1935. However, creditors were at the gates and the company was sold to Alan Good, who outbid Rolls-Royce. Gunn brought in W.O. Bentley, who had been released from Rolls-Royce (Rolls had acquired Bentley and the services of W.O. Bentley in 1931) and with him came his team, including Stuart Tresillian, Charles Sewell, and Frank Freely. The new V12 was released in 1937 and soon after Alan Good set his sights on returning to Le mans. Bentley and his team prepared two V12 cars for the 1939 race and they made an excellent showing finishing 3rd and 4th respectively. All eyes were now set on a 1940 Le Mans victory. Lagonda sent two V12 cars to Lancefield for aerodynamic coachwork - much like the Embiricos Bentley bodied by Portout in 1938.
The Lancefield Coachworks (1921-1948) was an obvious choice, located close by, they had built sporting bodies for Lagonda and others in the past. Lancefield originally worked from Lancefield Street in Queen's Park - thus the firm's name. However, after the cars were finished, all plans for a victory at the 1940 Le Mans were thrown aside as war was declared in Europe. The museum's website notes that the second Lancefield Coupe was brought to America and crashed at Bonneville. Even though it never got the chance to race, it's still a very unique piece of Lagonda history.