Onlookers were in no doubt about which car was the star of the '76 Earls Court show. The Aston Martin Lagonda fired up a furore of excitement around its stand. 170 orders were placed, there and then. Aston - reeling from recent travails - were cock-a-hoop. Which is when the problems began! The Lagonda sported 'futuristic' styling - by William Towns. His cutting edge design work went beyond the car's exterior lines. It reached into the cabin area, too. A digital dash - and touch-sensitive controls - were straight out of Star Trek! But, this was '70s Britain - not Silicon Valley. Technical issues immediately surfaced. As a result, the Lagonda's launch was delayed three years. By the time it was finally released, its price tag had risen to £32,000. Thankfully for Aston, it was still in demand.
Engineering-wise, the Lagonda was fine. Its chassis was an extended version of a tried and tested set-up. Suspension, too, had been used before. After a few tweaks to cope with the increase in weight, ride and handling were spot-on. Press reviews were upbeat. The Lagonda's engine was especially praised. Its 5.3-litre V8 - with quad-cam layout - made 340bhp. Top speed was 140mph. That was impressive, for a saloon car weighing nearly two tons. Transmission was via a 3-speed auto.
Ultimately, the Lagonda was all about leisure. Avant-garde though it was, in some ways it harked back to a more luxurious past. On its launch - in '79 - Lord and Lady Tavistock were first in line. Air conditioning - and electric seats - came as standard. Coachbuilders Tickford turned out three stretched Lagondas - complete with colour TVs! Sadly, for all of its state-of-the-art buzz - and genteel pretensions - the Lagonda did not sell well. By the end of its run - in 1990 - a scant 645 cars had been built. It had signally failed to back up the hype - commercially, at least. Those high-tech teething troubles had not helped. In that regard, though, it paved the way for cars to come. The Aston Martin Lagonda, then, may be said to have found fulfilment in the future, rather than the present.