Lagondas Of The Maharajas: The Post-War Cars – Part 4

Images: James Baxendale

In the fourth part of the series on the 'Indian' Lagondas, James writes about the post-War cars that made their way to India - Ed

Post-War Lagondas

If Chassis 14096 and 14097 were the last Lagondas to be shipped to India in 1940, the war years making further imports impossible, India’s economic policies following independence prevented further imports. Into the 1950s, there was a ban on the import of fully built vehicles. Only two Lagondas – both 2.6 Litres – are believed to have been imported to India in this period, both by Garware Motors Ltd, a Bombay car dealer with a branch in South Kensington, London. Garware supplied cars to the maharajas from the 1930s to 1950s. (Other Lagondas delivered to the maharajas, such as Chassis 14096, also came from Garware Motors). Their whereabouts are currently unknown.

Garware badge on chassis # 14096

This 1949 2.6 Litre DHC Lagonda was painted in Alpine blue and grey. Its original UK registration number was UMD 193, although it was marked in factory records as being for export to India. It was bought by the Maharaja of Jawhar when he was studying at the bar (Middle Temple) in England. The car was delivered to Garware Motors Ltd on 17 June 1949, the price being £1,648.10.0.

1. Chassis LAG/50/145

This 1950 2.6 Litre Saloon, painted in silver grey and grey, was delivered to Garware Motors Ltd on 19 July 1950, marked for export to India, the price being £1,400.

The Maharaja of Jawhar taking delivery of chassis # LAG/49/21, Haworth Park Hotel, 1949

Lagondas owned by the maharajas in Great Britain

The ban on importing cars to India post-Independence did not stop the maharajas from acquiring Lagondas, the V12 being their car of choice, although necessarily acquired second-hand.

2. Chassis 14038

This 1938 V12 Drophead Coupe was originally purchased by Major Ian Fraser-Marshall of Kilbarchan, Scotland, from car dealers, Scott Brown & Co, in Glasgow. Fraser-Marshall was “a prize-winning yachtsman, sports and rally car driver, military engineer, businessman and bon viveur.” The bodywork was painted in Lanchester red, with black interior trim and white piping. The interior woodwork was black, inlaid with pewter. Fraser-Marshall had his crest painted on the doors (grey dove, green branch, grey and black pedestal). It had a Renfrewshire registration number: AHS 822.

The Maharaja of Jawhar taking delivery of Chassis LAG/49/21, Haworth Park Hotel, 1949

We cannot be certain when Fraser-Marshall sold Chassis 14038. But it appears that by 1950 it belonged to the Maharaja of Jawhar, Yashwantroa Martandrao Mukne. The Maharaja was partial to Lagondas, as he bought two others in the same period (Chassis 14088 and Chassis LAG/49/21).

An article in the March 1954 issue of the American Cars magazine says that Chassis 14038 was “was built for Maharajah of Jawhar. Reconditioned, it is still in operation.” (By 1974, the story had become rather muddled, the family who bought the car in 1962 conflating Fraser-Marshall with the 'Maharaja of Janhor') (Club Mag 84).

Lagonda factory photograph of chassis # 14038 following the 1951 renovation, taken at Great Fosters

Lagonda factory’s service records note that Chassis 14038 was completely reconditioned in early 1951 – from top to bottom – likely for the Maharaja. All the wings were reshaped, and the running boards removed. The engine was completely rebuilt. The car was resprayed in two colours and the interior was retrimmed in fawn hide with special mohair rugs. Frank Feeley, who had designed the V12 body, was still employed at Aston Martin Lagonda in 1951, and this may have been his last work on the V12.

The factory took a widely disseminated photograph of the restored car at Great Fosters (the original is in the Club archives). The photograph appeared in the 1954 Cars magazine and Geoffrey Seaton’s Lagonda, An Illustrated History 1900-1950, as well as on the cover of Club Mag 81 – each time noting the link to the Maharaja.

Chassis # 14038, in 2023

In 1952, shortly after the car’s restoration, the car’s registration number was changed to an Ayrshire number plate DSD 797. This indicates that Chassis 14038 was kept in the United Kingdom, rather than being exported to India. By 1960, the car had been sold to Stephen Gwyn James (formerly member J9), a solicitor who lived on the river Severn in Gloucestershire.

Ralph Richardson with chassis # 14088, in 1939

Gwyn James sold Chassis 14038 in 1962 to Jim Whitehead (formerly member W78), who exported the car to Sydney, Australia. Its registration number changed to Australian number plate ERF 452 (and latter EDI 528). It remained there, until 2001, under various owners, when it was re-exported back to England by the Club’s chairman, John Sword. John has undertaken a complete restoration of the car.

Alan Heard and Michael Mackley, 1969

1.      Chassis 14088

According to the Club’s records (likely based on the car’s logbook), the Maharaja of Jawhar owned Chassis 14088, a 1939 V12 Drophead Coupe, from 11 June 1951 to 29 January 1963. Chassis 14088 was originally owned by the actor, (Sir) Ralph Richardson. It had UK registration number FUW 491. Alan Heard owned the car for over thirty years from 1967 to 2001 and carried out a major restoration (Club mag 276). It was then acquired by John Sword and, subsequently, in 2008, by Eberhard Thiesen in Germany, who both did further work. The car is still very much in existence, although its current whereabouts is unknown. The car is featured in Geoffrey Seaton’s Lagonda, An Illustrated History 1900-1950.

Chassis # 14088, in 2001

1.      Chassis 16015

Chassis 16015, a 1938 V12 medium chassis De Ville Saloon, belonged to the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Hanwant Singh, during his brief marriage to his Scottish wife, Alexandra McBride (Sundra Devi). He was its fifth owner. Hanwant Singh, of course, already owned a V12 in India, Chassis 14096. The marriage, which was tempestuous, only lasted from September 1948 to February 1950 and the Maharaja’s ownership of the car, from 28 June 1948 to 16 May 1949, more or less coincided with their marriage. He gave his address as Claridge’s, W1, which is where the couple stayed during their much-reported 1949 visit to London.

The Club records note the owner as the 'Maharajah of Jaidhpur'. The Maharaja of Jaipur, Man Singh II, also had a large collection of cars but no Lagondas, as far as is known.

Maharaja of Jodhpur and his wife, Alexandra McBride, at Claridge’s Hotel, London in August 1949

Chassis 16015, registered as EXE 588, was first owned by Colonel Hugh Stobart of Middlethorpe Hall, a Yorkshire coal mine owner. It has had an adventurous life since the Maharaja sold the car. In 1957, it was bought by Donald Overy (formerly member O9) and completely rebodied as a red LG45 Rapide Special, featuring on the cover of Club mag 34. Donald used it in the 1960s for VSCC hill climbs. He sold it in 1985 and under a new owner it was remodelled again as a green two-seater V12 Le Mans Replica, winning the class prize for LG6 and V12 cars at the Annual Gathering in 2014. It was sold at Bonhams in October 2020 and is currently owned by California member, Guido Rietdyk.

For the fifth and last part of the Indian Lagonda series, please tune in 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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