Pre-war racings specials are part of the very fabric of motoring in the UK and each represents a unique story of a car and the people that built and developed it. These specials were common during the pre-war period as factory single seaters were rare and expensive so people looked to the cars with the most potential for speed and handling to convert. An obvious choice for this conversion was the Lagonda Rapier with its twin overhead camshaft, 4-cylinder engine, displacing 1,104cc and breathing through twin SU carburettors. In this original set up it would rev comfortably to 5,500rpm and had a top speed of 75mph. These cars also ran an ENV 4-speed pre-selector transmission and 13” diameter Girling brakes which also added to their appeal for the racers.
We are proud to offer here a well-known and excellent example of a pre-war racing special, made to the highest standards. This is a Lagonda Rapier that started life on the 21st of September 1934 as a saloon bodied car and it had 4 changes of ownership prior to 1958. By this time the original body had fallen into disrepair and it was acquired by Les Thompson, who converted it into a single seat racer in the 1970s. As you would imagine the car was completely reworked to accommodate the new design with every part lightened and focused to give as much performance as possible. Les campaigned the car for many years with in the VSCC enjoying great success and winning many awards. Les eventually sold the car in 1995 and the new owner continued racing the car, often against Les in his new Rapier. Following a minor incident at Silverstone the car was fully rebuilt including fresh paint, overhauled engine, rebuilt gearbox, new block and gearbox. Sadly the car was used very little after this and ended in on display in an art gallery.
The current owners acquired the car at Bonhams in 2009 after which they asked the well respected Graham Millard to complete a front to back going through of the car to return it to top condition in every way. The engine was stripped and rebuilt using the new 1500cc block, which was altered to improve oil pressure, and feed, a new crankshaft was installed and new Fletch Jones high compression pistons were used. The carburettors had new spindles and Cyril Hollingsworth made new brass floats - these were connected to a new fuel pump, regulator and fuel lines. A new Tyson oil pump was also put on. Cecil Schumacher was instructed to do a full rebuild on the pre-selector gearbox, the propshaft was balanced and the ENF differential was rebuilt. The brakes and suspension were rebuilt and new brake liners were installed and the shocks remounted and rebuilt. The fuel tank was opened and cleaned then refilled with fresh foam, the radiator was flushed and checked, the steering wheel was replaced with a sprung racing wheel and a new hub was made up. New electrics were put in and a new master switch. The cockpit was given the treatment as well with a new seat exquisitely made and trimmed by Julian Taylor and the dials were replaced where necessary with period correct ones and then all of them were rebuilt by John Marks so are now working correctly. The switches on the dash marked up by a sign writer to give a soft, period feel and finally a new fire system completed the work.
The car has subsequently been used for numerous events including Kop Hillclimb, Luton Park, Shelsley, etc. The car is in superb condition as you would expect and is fully ready for the next lucky owner with help and advice on hand to get you up and going.
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