The establishment of Lagonda
Lagonda was founded in 1906 by a Scottish-American, Wilbur Gunn, a former opera singer who worked as a speedboat and motorcycle engineer in England. He named the company after the Shawnee settlement "Lagonda" in Springfield, Ohio, where he was born. In 1907 he launched his first car, the 20 horsepower, 6-cylinder Torpedo, which he used to win the Moscow to St. Petersburg trial of 1910.
In 1913 Lagonda introduced an advanced small car, the 11.1 which by 1914 featured a riveted monocoque body and the first ever fly-off handbrake. In 1935 the company was bought by Alan P. Good, who outbid Rolls-Royce and persuaded W. O. Bentley to leave Rolls-Royce and join Lagonda as designer alongside many of his racing department staff. In 1947 the company was taken over by Aston Martin.
A brief history of Alvis Car and Engineering Company
In 1922 George Thomas Smith-Clarke left his job as assistant works manager at Daimler and joined Alvis as Chief Engineer and Works Manager. Smith-Clarke was accompanied by William M. Dunn, who left his job as a draughtsman at Daimler to become Chief Draughtsman at Alvis. This partnership lasted for nearly 28 years and was responsible for producing some of the most successful products in the history of Alvis Car and Engineering Company.
Geoffrey de Freville designed the first Alvis engine and is also responsible for the company name. His first engine design was a four-cylinder engine with aluminium pistons and pressure lubrication, which was unusual for that time. The first car model using de Freville's engine was the Alvis 10/30. It was an instant success and established the company's reputation for quality workmanship and superior performance. The original 10/30 side-valve engine was improved, evolving by 1923 into the overhead valve Alvis 12/50, a highly successful sports car that was produced up until 1932. Around 700 of the 12/50 models and 120 of the later Alvis 12/60 models survive today.
The beginnings of Austin Motor Company
The Austin Motor Company Limited was an English manufacturer of motor vehicles, founded in 1905 by Herbert Austin. Starting in 1895, Herbert Austin built three cars in his free time whilst running the Wolseley Tool & Motor Car Company. They were among Britain's first cars. The third car, a four-wheeler, was completed in 1899. By 1901 his fellow directors could not see future profit in motor vehicles and so Austin started a separate car manufacturing business under the name Wolseley with the backing of the Vickers brothers.
In 1905, Austin secured financial backing to start his own enterprise and the Austin Motor Company Limited was born. In the last week of April 1906 a large number of motorists travelled to see the new Austin car, a conventional four-cylinder model with chain drive. Two things were noticeable about Austin's new design. Not only did it have a vertical engine but it was practically identical to the English-built Clément-Gladiators that had been assembled in the same factory.
In 1952 Austin Motor Company was merged with Morris Motors Limited. The marque Austin was used until 1987.
The origin of Jensen Motors
In 1926 young Alan Jensen and his brother Richard Jensen built a new boat-tailed sporting body on one of the first Chummy baby Austins. This impressed Alfred Herbert Wilde, chief engineer of Standard Motor Company, who went on to persuade Alan Jensen to join New Avon Body Co. With Wilde’s support, Alan Jensen designed the first Standard Avon open two-seaters, which were produced from 1929 to 1933.
In May 1931 they announced an open 4-seater and a lowered 2-seater that became known as Jensen Wolseley Hornets. They later expanded to build exclusively customized bodies for standard cars produced by several manufacturers of the day including Singer, Morris, Wolseley and Standard. In 1934 they were commissioned by American actor Clark Gable to design and build a car for him based on a Ford V-8 chassis. This car won them much acclaim and stimulated huge interest in their work, including a deal with Ford to produce a line of Jensen-Fords characterised by a Ford chassis and engine and Jensen bodywork. In 1934 they also started designing their first true production car under the name White Lady. This evolved into the Jensen S-type which went into production in 1935. Jensen Motors ceased trading in 1976.
Get a quote in seconds
Hiring a Lagonda, Alvis, Austin or Jensen couldn't be easier. Just fill in a few bits of information and you can get a quote in seconds. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We're here to help!