Lagonda Love at First Sight

This super fan now owns 25

Any collector, whether of cars, records or stamps, has a favourite. But to own 25 examples of one car? And the Aston Martin Lagonda? Rodger Dudding explains.

“They’re the ultimate ‘Marmite’ car – you either love them or you don’t,” the businessman says from Studio 434 in Hertfordshire, UK, where the Lagondas are kept. Although his 200-plus car collection is wide ranging, it’s British marques – and this Aston Martin model in particular – that take centre stage.

“There are very few cars that are original thinking,” explains Rodger. “If you look at any other car, then or since, few are completely original. William Towns’ design was true blue-sky thinking, and all credit to Aston Martin for building it.”

The car has become legendary for its foibles and development hell; the budget for the entire car was spent on the wiring, which in the end rarely worked. However, as Rodger points out, for all the negativity, the company owes its very survival to the Lagonda. “Without selling that model at a ridiculous price, the firm would have gone bust,” he says.

Rodger’s experience with his first Lagonda, in the early 1980s, would have put most people off. “I was very proud of it, but my late wife said: ‘That is bloody horrible – sell it!’ I kept it for three months, but we had four or five situations where it would get us to our destination, have a hissy fit and refuse to come home.”

The worst of these occurred on a trip to Devon. After a pub visit, Rodger came out to find a crowd around the Lagonda. “I was suitably proud, of course,” he laughs. “Then I put the key in and the thing wouldn’t start. I was so embarrassed, I wanted the ground to open up before me.”

The car was returned to Aston Martin. “It took them four-and-a-half hours to find the cause; the fuel cut-out. It was behind the dash. What was I to do if it caught fire; take the dash out? If you weren’t mad like I am, you wouldn’t have one.”

That first Lagonda was sold – “it was cheaper than getting a divorce!” – but Rodger’s business successes meant he was able to indulge his passion. He also owns other examples of William Towns’ work, including two Mini-based Hustler six-wheelers. “I met William, and I told him I loved the Lagonda,” Rodger recalls. “‘I’m glad someone does,’ he replied.”

The collection includes two long-wheelbase models, Tickford editions and one with 18ct gold trim inside and out. “I love them all. It’s like having three children – you can’t have a favourite,” he laughs.

One intriguing example belonged to Dodi Fayed. Rodger knew of the car after designing a queueing system for Harrods, which was then owned by Dodi’s father Mohamed Al-Fayed. After Dodi’s death the car was sold to a woman in Edinburgh, who later got in touch.

“I bought it unseen,” Rodger says. “I asked a restorer to look at it. He said if you braked hard, the engine would fall out. Typical Aston Martin – it could never understand the reaction of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The car had rotted all the way through. It was a full restoration.”

Rodger’s latest purchase is the first production car delivered to a customer, in February 1979. “We’ve also got the very last Series 4 built,

a special order for the Drambuie liqueur company,” he says.

But is this the final Lagonda? Rodger’s got house renovations and a wedding to plan for, and he’s still taking an active role in his businesses as he enters his 84th year.


“I have been offered a beautiful, unmarked Series 4. The seller wrote to me and said: ‘We’ve got two cars you WILL buy.’ I like that approach!”