Reader William Hutton of Leeds wrote to agree with our sentiments about the Lagonda Rapide (MOTOR SPORT, November 1993) and to offer advice to fellow owners. Sir, When I first got my Rapide it would break down after about seven miles with symptoms of fuel starvation. After a month or so we worked out, with a little help from our friends, and the loan of a DB5 wiring diagram, that the car had incorrectly been fitted with a 12-volt coil and starter resistor so that after about five or six miles the coil became so hot that the engine could knock the spark out on acceleration. After that was sorted the car has been 100 per cent reliable, regularly doing 400mile round trips. However, it remained thirsty at
1 2-1 4 mpg, never bettering 15 on a trip. The clue to this lay in the plugs, the front three being much darker than the rear three. A trip to GRV Devel
opments revealed all. They attended to and mended the advance-retard spring, replaced the new plugs I had fitted with NGKs and then replaced the contacts and condenser. Only then did they attack the carbs with the rolling road and exhaust analyser. An hour or so later we discovered the main jet in both the main and secondary venturis of the front carb were 210 and the rear 140. Eventually we settled for 160 all round and since then engine idles completely smoothly and revs with consummate ease. The Solex carburettors are very good. Once they’re right, they stay right, and the tickover doesn’t fluctuate. Now the mpg is 18-19 on a trip and up to 17 running around.
It is as you guessed a fantastic car, capable of well over 100mph at Bruntingthorpe, sideways progression at Silverstone, all in great comfort. Mine, I think, is fairly quiet. They really were ahead of their time in terms of quality of ride and electric windows all round, a solenoid to open the petrol cap, twin fans to the footwell for hot weather and a separate heater and fan below the rear window, picnic trays for rear passengers, etc.
The roadholding on 205 radials is fantastic but the ground clearance suffers slightly. The boot is adequate for any Mafia gangster but oddly for such a large car the passenger compartment isn’t as big as that on the Riley Pathfinder I used to own. The Rapide has sometimes been called the ugly duckling of the DB series but I think it is already a swan. I have owned and driven a DB2/4 MkIII, DB Vantage and a V8 and none had this svelte ride and steering, and only the V8 had better straightline performance (which admittedly was staggering so was the rate the fuel gauge moved!). It’s a great chassis thanks to the torsion bar rear end. I used to race mine and the handling at speed is superb. The tail will go out, but it’s terribly forgiving. Mind you, you really need a tailgunner to say, ‘It’s gone, Milord. ..’ William Hutton, Horsforth,
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