01 April 2008

A Lagonda in 1940s London

Although I frequently scan the items posted in Carnival of Genealogy the topic Cars as stars! particularly caught my attention. A special car played a starring role in my family history so here is my first ever contribution to the Carnival. It's only a short one as it's a bit different from the normal news, views and resources content I post. Cars as stars! is being organized by Jasia at Creative Gene.

The year was 1941. London had just come through The Blitz and my father had returned home after his ship, the Rangitane, was sunk in the Pacific in November 1940. He was prisoner of war on a German raider, released and eventually made it back to England; but that's a whole other story!

He was a car fan having trained as a motor mechanic before the war. Though contacts he was able to buy something special, a British-made Lagonda. The car, and the young man driving it, impressed a young secretary who was arranging servicing of the delivery vehicles of Wiffin Bros., the grocery company for which she worked.

She was just delighted when the young man offered to work on her car, a much more modest Morris 8, which he did even before he worked on the company's vehicles. One thing led to another and they were married in 1944.

Online I found a photo of a restored classic red Lagonda. An old black and white photograph of my father's car looks much the same. I asked my mother if she remembered the colour. She didn't think it was red.

One thing about that car did stick in her mind, even more than 60 years later, was a non-standard feature that perhaps helps explain how my father, so recently shipwrecked, could afford such a luxury car.

It had two bullet holes in the body.

The story is that the car had belonged to a London underworld figure who "no longer had any use for it."

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