Lagondas Of The Maharajas: The M45s & a LG6 – Part 2

Images: James Baxendale

In the second part of the series on the 'Indian' Lagondas, James writes about the M45s - ED


1. Chassis Z10958:

This 1934 M45 was originally owned by the Maharaja of Bikaner, General Sir Ganga Singh (or more likely his son, Sadul Singh, who succeeded as Maharaja in 1943). The car passed in the late 1950s to Dr Himmat Singh (possibly via the Maharaja’s private secretary, Bharat Singh, who died in 1955 and who left his car to Himmat Singh). Raj N Seth acquired the car in 1965, co-owning it with Nandi Nagpal (on whose death, the latter’s share was passed to Babi Nobis). The car was registered as RJF 255.

Chassis # Z100958 with Raj Seth

Raj Seth, a leading light in the vintage car movement in India, lovingly described his ownership of the car in his 2017 book, Driving Across the Borders. “When we bought the car, it had done approximately 25000 miles. It has, to date, participated in fifty-five rallies and each time, won a trophy or two. She is still capable of doing 75 mph in top gear. If there was a better stretch of road available, she could probably do more.

On Mr Seth’s death, his share of the car passed to Babi Nobis.

A recent photo of chassis # Z100958

2. Chassis Z11159

The M45 Rapide Tourer has a Tourist Trophy Replica body by coachmaker E D Abbott Ltd. It was built as a race replica of the factory Rapide racing cars that were prepared by Lagonda’s main agents, Fox & Nicholls, and performed well at the 1934 RAC Tourist Trophy at Ards in Northern Ireland and went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans the following year. The car first appeared at the 1934 London motor show, where it was described as “Special body by exhibitors, employing features as used in the Ulster TT race.” It was advertised for sale at £1,075. It features in Geoffrey Seaton’s Lagonda, An Illustrated History 1900-1950.

An image of chassis # Z11159 from Geoffrey Seaton’s book on Lagondas

The car was originally owned by the Maharaja of Bhavnagar, Krishna Kumarsinhji Bhavsinhji, who bought it at the motor show, and who was a keen car collector. The car had passed before 1965 to Subodh Nath (formerly member N2 and president of the Gujarat Vintage & Classic Car Club). Mr Nath drove the car from Ahmedabad to Bombay to participate in the first Bombay Concours in 1966.

After nearly 25 years in Mr Nath’s possession, it was acquired in 1989 by Sharad Sanghi of Indore. The Sanghi family, authorised dealers for Tata Motors since 1950 (including Jaguar and Land Rover), have a passion for collecting vintage cars. Under their ownership, the car has been beautifully restored. It appeared at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the 2019 Cartier Concours d’Elegance in Jaipur.

The M45 is currently part of the Sanghi car collection in Indore.

Chassis # Z10662 photographed during recent years

3.     Chassis Z10662

This 1934 M45 Drophead Coupe was variously in the Indian states of Assam (where it had registration number ASA 2338), Nagaland (where it had registration number NLA 2944) and West Bengal. From 1958, it belonged to Maurice Normington (formerly member N4), who was working on a tea estate in Assam at the time. He may be the person who brought the car to India. The car was originally a saloon, the DHC body being built in Delhi.

The car was owned from 1988 to 1994 by David Balfour and stored in Kolkata with Manab Pal. It was purchased from Mr Balfour in 1994 by Delhi and London-based businessman and car collector, Sudhir Choudhrie, in whose collection it remains.

Chassis # 12514 at Auto World, the museum established by Pranlal Bhogilal, near Ahmedabad, in 2005


1.   12514

This 1938 LG6 De Ville (registration number GRD 7878, previously MYM 101 and MYM 2664) was originally owned by the Governor of Madras, Sir Arthur Hope. It is uncertain whether he bought the car to India from England. In 1938, he was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Birmingham Aston, becoming Governor of Madras in 1940. The car was subsequently owned in the mid 1960s by Bobby Jayaram (formerly member J24). He sold it to the Sanghi family. It was acquired by Pranlal Bhogilal in around 1978. It is now part of the Bhogilal Collection in the Auto World Museum in Ahmedabad.

For the third part of this five-part series on the 'Indian' Lagondas, please tune in into the magazine tomorrow - 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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