Lagonda Vignale

Lagonda Vignale Description

Prototype show car built by Ghia unveiled – 1993

AM built prototype built – 1997

The Lagonda Vignale was commissioned in 1992 by AML (already fully owned by Ford) from Ghia Design (also part of the Ford family) to be shown at the 1993 Geneva Motor Show. The exterior design was by Moray Callum - an interesting co-incidence as at the same Geneva Motor Show, the DB7 (the work of Moray's brother, Ian) was shown for the very first time. Sadly, instead of being on the AML stand, the Lagonda took second place on the Ford display to the then new Mondeo. The Lagonda was built on a Lincoln Town Car chassis with Lincoln independent front and solid self-levelling rear suspension and was powered by a 4.6 litre (190bhp, 260 lb/ft) Town Car V8 engine. The elegant retro styling looked incredibly modern and a real departure from the William Towns ‘wedge’ Lagonda. Standing tall with a high waistline, shallow windows, minimal overhangs and tapering rounded tail, there was not a single sharp edge in sight. The Art Deco ‘jukebox’ inspired interior was the work of David Wilkie and featured swathes of semi-aniline leather, a single piece beech wood facia and nickel brightwork.

The reality of the concept was that it had no recognisable AML parts at all. Had this fabulous car made production (and many thought that it would), the chassis would have become an extruded aluminium tub much like the Vanquish’s, the suspension was to be fully independent all round and the engine would have been a now familiar 5.9 litre V12. Whilst these features never appeared in a production Vignale - they are exactly what were used in the V12 Vanquish a few years later. It is not at all clear why this incredible automobile was not produced. Its retro yet radical styling looks as fresh today as it did in 1993.

Certainly two Vignales were built by Ghia, a silver grey example that made its debut at Geneva, and a Sorrento Blue car. The Geneva show car, whilst a running prototype, was not fully engineered for safe use on the road and is believed to have been destroyed. The Sorrento Blue one somehow survived and was sold at the famous auction of Ford prototypes in Dearborn in June 2002 for $403,500 (including buyer’s premium), many times above the estimate of $60,000 to $120,000. A review of the sale in CAR Magazine, August 2002, described the blue car as ‘the least usable one of three’ and ‘Ford’s kept the others for itself’, although the Registrar has no evidence for a third built Ghia car.

A further car, codenamed DP2138, was built in secret at Newport Pagnell, with styling closely based on the previous Ghia cars. DP2138 was based on a Ford platform and powered by a V12 engine (the Registrar suspects a Jaguar XJ platform and V12 engine). The coachwork and interior were solely the work of the Newport Pagnell factory - no-one else in the world could have produced such a fine automobile. Apart from the styling, this car had mechanically little in common with the 1993 Ghia concept.

The DP2138 project did not proceed further and the car was sold to a collector in the Far East.

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