Lagonda M45R The 1935 Le Mans Winner
This Le Mans-winning Lagonda is completely original; even the upholstery has never been replaced.
The fin at the back of this Lagonda M45R was fitted the night before the 1935 Le Mans race, purely because the participating Alfa Romeos all had one. As it was fitted in haste, it is a little crooked. On replicas the fin is perfectly straight.
This Lagonda M45R won Le Mans in 1935 despite having hardly any oil left in its engine and having damaged steering caused by a collision with a spinning Aston Martin in torrential rain. During the race the Lagonda team, made up of drivers John Hindmarsh and Luís Fontes, was put under extreme pressure by the Alfa Romeo driven by ‘Heldé’ (the pseudonym used by the famous racing driver Dreyfus) and Stoffel. Alfa Romeo was planning to take its fifth consecutive victory and equal Bentley’s record. However, Heldé was misinformed by his pit crew: he thought he was in the lead but was in fact one lap behind the Lagonda which won, having covered 3,006.8 kilometres at an average speed of 125.3 km/h.
It is one of two Lagondas entered for Le Mans in 1935 by car dealer Arthur Fox, who hired test-drivers John Hindmarsh and Luís Fontes to form his racing team. The 21-year-old Fontes was one of the favourites, but this talented driver retired from racing after one successful season. After ‘Le Mans’ the car was sold to the then-new Lagonda chairman Alan Good, who hired a new technical director: Walter Owen Bentley.