Lagondas Of The Maharajas: The Lost Lot - Part 5

Images: James Baxendale

In the fifth and last part of the series on the 'Indian' Lagondas, James writes about a few that are known to have made their way to India, and then have disappeared, as well as a couple that visited India - Ed

Lost Lagondas

Inevitably, a few Lagondas have now been lost.

According to Manvendra Barwani in The Automobiles of the Maharajas, his late father, Maharana of Barwani, Devi Singh, was given a Lagonda 16/80 by the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, Sir Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja. (Gautam Sen, in The Automobile: An Indian Love Affair, believes that the Lagonda belonged to the father, Ranji, who was likely the first Indian to own an automobile in the early 1890s). Its current whereabouts is unknown.

Kagal State car

Another maharaja who owned a Lagonda, whose whereabouts is currently unknown, was the Maharaja of Kapurthala, Jagatjit Singh. According to his grandson, Sukhji Singh (quoted in Charles Allen and Sharada Dwivedi’s Lives of the Indian Princes), the Lagonda, painted in two colours, was one of the first cars that the Maharaja bought.

There is a photograph of a V12 in India, which does not appear to match the three V12s known to have been in India. It is labelled as a Kagal State car, although there is no further information to confirm this.

Chassis # 16/80 in northern India in the Second World War

Some Lagondas may have arrived – or been requisitioned – during the Second World War. Club Mag 187 has a picture of a 16/80 in northern India, submitted by John Anderson (formerly member A26), being driven by a Ghurkha called Deokharji. The car, which had been requisitioned, had come from under wraps in a shed in Peshawar (now in Pakistan). (It would be tempting to think that part of this car is linked to the one in the Sanghi collection!).

'Ban' Banerjee also spoke of a 3 Litre: “I managed to get one 3-litre Lagonda’s complete Differential Housing with Crown and Tail pinion and two back shafts plus two reams complete with hub and knock-off nuts for Rs.450/-. That particular 3-litre Lagonda belonged to A.K. Sarkar & Co. Calcutta. During war time that particular Lagonda was used as a lorry by that Company. I happened to visit that Company during 1943-44 and I pleaded them not to abuse a good make car like this. Then later on I came to know that 3-litre was completely smashed by a military lorry, eventually the whole car came to Mallick bazaar, and sold as scrap bit by bit, where I bought the complete differential housing” (Club Mag 64).

David Crow in chassis # 9698 in front of the Maharaja of Bharatpur’s palace

Visiting Lagondas

A couple of Lagondas have visited India. Most noteworthy is the 3 Litre of David Crow, who drove PL 1239 (Chassis 9698) from London to New Delhi between March and June 1965 – a distance of 11,057 miles, without any serious breakdowns (see Club Mags 58 and 59 for his account of the trip). It was perhaps 'Ban' Banerjee’s inspiration for his abortive trip. In India, David was invited by the Maharaja of Bharatpur for lunch at his palace (with bearers standing behind every seat). Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, who was visiting, was also there, photographing David’s Lagonda for the Veteran & Vintage magazine. During his time in India, David saw the two Lagondas then owned by the Nath brothers: the M45 Abbott (chassis # Z11159) and the V12 (chassis # 14096). Chassis # 9698 is currently owned by Anthony Peake.

Chassis # S10466 in Rajasthan

In 2012 and again in 2016, Chris Hallett (H81) took his 1933 16/80 (chassis # S10466) to India for some amazing family holidays.

As James is visiting India now and plans to see four of the Indian members and their cars, a report on his meeting and experience is expected to follow soon - Ed

James Baxendale

A director of the Lagonda Club, James Baxendale OBE owns a 1930 Lagonda 2 Litre, which belonged to his great uncle. His daily driver is a 1963 Porsche 356B.


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