Am I alone in worrying about Aston Martin’s exhumation of the Lagonda name?
The business case is clear: you can call a luxury limousine a Lagonda and sell it in places an Aston could never venture, which is why Aston Martin reckons it could expand its global footprint from 32 to 100 countries.
Moreover if the much-rumoured tie-up with Mercedes takes place, then a Lagonda based on a Mercedes platform using modified drivetrains might well be an expedient way of executing such a project.
Putting aside all issues about the relevance of such a car in the world as it stands today, my real concern is the strength of the name. How many people out there have actually heard of a Lagonda and how many more would spend a substantial sum to own one?
Who knows or even cares that a Lagonda won Le Mans in 1935, or that its chief engineer used to be WO Bentley? I rang three chums all of whom would consider themselves at least casual car enthusiasts, one of whom would be in a position to buy such a car; and all any of them could recall was the wedge-shaped, Bill Towns-penned Aston Martin Lagonda from the 1970s. And none had anything nice to say about it.
The problem with digging up names from the past is that if they’re going to work, they have to command a massive emotional impact in which case they’d never have been allowed to disappear in the first place.
BMW succeeded with Mini and Rolls-Royce because the names had the kudos to begin with and had never been allowed to die.
Even Bugatti – as blue-blooded a name as you’ll find on the nose of a car - failed once in the 1990s and now continues as a loss leader thanks to the resources of Europe’s largest car manufacturer despite producing one of the most remarkable cars any of us will ever see.
Will a 21st century Aston Martin Lagonda work? I’d be interested to find out what you think.