‘It’s like noth­ing else on Earth!’

Andy Mor­ton had two dream cars when he was young. He’s owned one – A Porsche 928 – and was dis­ap­pointed. Will the other, As­ton Martin’s high-tech Lagonda, live up to 40 years of ex­pec­ta­tion?

Classic Cars (UK) - - The List - Words SAM DAW­SON Pho­tog­ra­phy NEIL FRASER

When I first en­counter

Clas­sic Cars reader Andy Mor­ton, he’s strolling across the gravel drive­way be­hind As­ton Martin spe­cial­ist Stratton Mo­tor Com­pany’s Nor­folk premises clutch­ing a small white hard­back book. It’s his cher­ished 1976/1977 copy of The Observer’s Book of Cars.

‘It all started here!’ he ex­claims, ges­tur­ing with it. ‘This was the first car book I ever owned, and I used to use it to de­cide which cars I wanted to own in the fu­ture. My favourites were the Porsche 928, which I’ve owned; the Pan­ther Six, which never made it into pro­duc­tion; and the As­ton Martin Lagonda, which I’ve never been able to af­ford. Now you’ve ar­ranged for me to drive one, which is a chance I know I’m never go­ing to get again. I’ll def­i­nitely be mak­ing the most of it.’

We round a cor­ner bi­sected by a high brick wall, and Mor­ton looks up from his child­hood mem­o­ries. There, its metal­lic blue paint­work shim­mer­ing in the sun­light, is the Lagonda he’s fi­nally go­ing to get to drive. His jaw drops.

‘In the book it was de­scribed as “the space-age su­per-saloon”,’ Mor­ton re­calls as he walks around it, slowly and rev­er­en­tially, un­able to take his eyes off its se­vere lines. ‘It’s like noth­ing else on Earth. It’s also re­ally long – fun­nily enough the last time I saw one – a long time ago now – its driver was try­ing to turn it around in a cul-de-sac. It took him ages.’

Mor­ton de­cides to try the Lagonda out for size, and opens the driv­ers’ door, notic­ing a hum­ble de­tail in a sea of be­spoke ex­oti­cism. ‘It’s got the same door han­dles as my Dad’s old Cortina MKIV,’ he notes. ‘Had I known that at the time I would’ve thought that old Ford was much cooler than I did, to know that the means of en­try was the same as an As­ton.’ Fun­nily enough, the door han­dles cost As­ton more ex­pense than ex­pected be­cause, for diplo­matic rea­sons, the Mid­dle East­ern mar­ket that formed the bulk of its early sales didn’t want to feel it was buy­ing an Amer­i­can prod­uct. An­tic­i­pat­ing this, some­one at the New­port Pag­nell fac­tory was given the la­bo­ri­ous task of fil­ing the Ford badges off the un­der­side of all the han­dles.

Mor­ton set­tles into the deep-pile pad­ding of the driv­ers’ seat, closes his eyes and in­hales the leather odour. When he opens them again he finds him­self star­ing at a be­wil­der­ing dash­board, all black dig­i­tal pan­els and touch-sen­si­tive plas­tic membrane switches, and it takes us a full five min­utes and a fruit­less re­course to the own­ers’ man­ual to work out how to ac­ti­vate the fa­mous pop-up head­lights. ‘If the dash­board goes wrong, does a Red­if­fu­sion man in a Bed­ford Bea­gle van come out to fix it? The wheel’s so tiny

‘The last time I saw one its driver was try­ing to turn it around in a culde-sac. It took him ages’

Raw data harder to as­sim­i­late with­out the con­text of a guage

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.