2. Lagonda concept

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2. Lagonda concept

Lagonda is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its first production car with a Geneva show concept that gives a foretaste of a model that will see the return of the historic British brand within the next few years.

The company, fused with Aston Martin since just after the Second World War, has not revealed a new car since the mid-1970s, though there was a strictly limited-edition Virage model in 1994.

Now it is planning a comeback which will see it operate in countries where the roads are unsuitable for Aston Martins.

Dr Ulrich Bez, the company's chief executive, says the brand will be represented in 100 countries, including Russia, where early Lagondas were sold even before they were available in the UK.

'We are definitely going to do Lagonda,' says chairman Dave Richards, 'but 2012 is the earliest we could manage it.

'In the next few years we will see what the reaction to the concept is.'

The show car, known simply as the Lagonda Concept, is based on the platform and four-wheel-drive system of the Mercedes GL, but the engine is Aston's V12, says Richards.

However, Dr Bez says the return of Lagonda will allow the company to explore 'alternate powertrain solutions' including hybrids, flex-fuel systems and clean diesels.

The style of the concept echoes the LG6 of 1937 long bonnet, short tail and 'box' rear window but has the high ground clearance of a 4x4 so that it could take luxury motoring to areas of the world where the roads are often little better than tracks.

'The modern Lagonda will combine heritage with a old statement for the future,' sai Dr Bez.

'It will be avantgarde, luxurious and elegant.'

Lagonda was founded in 1899 but its first production car was built 10 years later in the workshop of American Wilbur Gunn in Staines, Middlesex.

The company's heyday was in the 1930s. In 1933 a six-cylinder M45 raced a train from Dieppe in France to Brindisi in Italy and beat it by 14 hours. Then in 1935 Lagonda won the Le Mans 24 Hour race.

In 1947 it was bought by David Brown, the then owner of Aston Martin, because he wanted access to Lagonda's engine that was designed by W O Bentley.

Why we didn't like it We rather thought - and perhaps hoped - large, thirsty, opulant SUVs were going to be a thing of the past.